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Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Belated Conscience


To buy for school a copy-book
I asked my Dad for two-pence;
He gave it with a gentle look,
Although he had but few pence.
'Twas then I proved myself a crook
And came a moral cropper,
I bought a penny copy-book
And blued the other copper.

I spent it on a sausage roll
Gulped down with guilt suggestion,
To the damnation of my soul
And awful indigestion.
Poor Dad! His job was hard to hold;
His mouths to feed were many;
Were he alive a millionfold
I'd pay him for his penny.

Now nigh the grave I think with grief,
Though other sins are many,
I am a liar and a thief
'Cause once I stole a penny:
Yet be he pious as a friar
It is my firm believing,
That every man has been a liar
And most of us done thieving.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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