Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Dumb Swede - Poem by Robert William Service

With barbwire hooch they filled him full,
Till he was drunker than all hell,
And then they peddled him the bull
About a claim they had to sell.
A thousand bucks they made him pay,
Knowing that he had nothing more,
And when he begged it back next day,
And wept! - they kicked him from the door.

They reckoned they were mighty slick,
Them two tinhorns from Idaho;
That poor dumb Swede could swing a pick,
but that was all he'd ever know.
So sitting in a poker game,
They lost the price for which they sold
To that bonehead a poor dud claim
That didn't have a speck of gold.

My story's true as gospel creed
Of these bright boys from Idaho;
They made a sucker of that Swede
And laughed to see the poor boob go,
And work like nigger on his ground,
Bucked by the courage of despair . . .
Till lo! A rich pay-streak he found,
That made him twice a millionaire.

So two smart Alecs, mighty sick,
Begged jobs at fifteen bucks a day.
Then said the Swede: "Give each a pick
And let them sweat to make their pay."
And though he don't know what it means,
Folks call that Swede "magnanimous"
- But picking nuggets big as beans,
you oughta' hear them fellers cuss!

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Read poems about / on: smart, courage, sick, despair, work, lost

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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