Robert William Service
A Life Tragedy
A pistol shot rings round and round the world;
In pitiful defeat a warrior lies.
A last defiance to dark Death is hurled,
A last wild challenge shocks the sunlit skies.
Alone he falls, with wide, wan, woeful eyes:
Eyes that could smile at death -- could not face shame.
Alone, alone he paced his narrow room,
In the bright sunshine of that Paris day;
Saw in his thought the awful hand of doom;
Saw in his dream his glory pass away;
Tried in his heart, his weary heart, to pray:
"O God! who made me, give me strength to face
The spectre of this bitter, black disgrace."
* * * * *
The burn brawls darkly down the shaggy glen;
The bee-kissed heather blooms around the door;
He sees himself a barefoot boy again,
Bending o'er page of legendary lore.
He hears the pibroch, grips the red claymore,
Runs with the Fiery Cross, a clansman true,
Sworn kinsman of Rob Roy and Roderick Dhu.
Eating his heart out with a wild desire,
One day, behind his counter trim and neat,
He hears a sound that sets his brain afire --
The Highlanders are marching down the street.
Oh, how the pipes shrill out, the mad drums beat!
"On to the gates of Hell, my Gordons gay!"
He flings his hated yardstick away.
He sees the sullen pass, high-crowned with snow,
Where Afghans cower with eyes of gleaming hate.
He hurls himself against the hidden foe.
They try to rally -- ah, too late, too late!
Again, defenseless, with fierce eyes that wait
For death, he stands, like baited bull at bay,
And flouts the Boers, that mad Majuba day.
He sees again the murderous Soudan,
Blood-slaked and rapine-swept. He seems to stand
Upon the gory plain of Omdurman.
Then Magersfontein, and supreme command
Over his Highlanders. To shake his hand
A King is proud, and princes call him friend.
And glory crowns his life -- and now the end,
The awful end. His eyes are dark with doom;
He hears the shrapnel shrieking overhead;
He sees the ravaged ranks, the flame-stabbed gloom.
Oh, to have fallen! -- the battle-field his bed,
With Wauchope and his glorious brother-dead.
Why was he saved for this, for this? And now
He raises the revolver to his brow.
* * * * *
In many a Highland home, framed with rude art,
You'll find his portrait, rough-hewn, stern and square;
It's graven in the Fuyam fellah's heart;
The Ghurka reads it at his evening prayer;
The raw lands know it, where the fierce suns glare;
The Dervish fears it. Honor to his name
Who holds aloft the shield of England's fame.
Mourn for our hero, men of Northern race!
We do not know his sin; we only know
His sword was keen. He laughed death in the face,
And struck, for Empire's sake, a giant blow.
His arm was strong. Ah! well they learnt, the foe
The echo of his deeds is ringing yet --
Will ring for aye. All else . . . let us forget.
Robert William Service's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem ("Fighting Mac" by Robert William Service )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
- A Homage To The Freedom Fighters Of India, Raja Basu
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- A Red, Red Rose, Robert Burns
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
Poem of the Day
- A Journey of Treasure, Raymond A. Foss
- spinning 2 StAnd $tiLL - can i cHaRge it?, sEaN nOrTh
- un-nerves sh#t - sweet child of mime, sEaN nOrTh
- The Wise Man, Brian J. Stafford
- Cos Their Real Money 2, sEaN nOrTh
- Indian Republic Day,2015, Dr John Celes
- humans, lee fones
- hunger, oskar hansen
- Ideals Of Views, Margaret Alice Second
- [CW]Watch The Flash Season 1 Episode 11 .., Renz Barns