Treasure Island

Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Jobson Of The Star


Within a pub that's off the Strand and handy to the bar,
With pipe in mouth and mug in hand sat Jobson of the Star.
"Come, sit ye down, ye wond'ring wight, and have a yarn," says he.
"I can't," says I, "because to-night I'm off to Tripoli;
To Tripoli and Trebizond and Timbuctoo mayhap,
Or any magic name beyond I find upon the map.
I go errant trail to try, to clutch the skirts of Chance,
To make once more before I die the gesture of Romance."
The Jobson yawned above his jug, and rumbled: "Is that so?
Well, anyway, sit down, you mug, and have a drink before you go."

Now Jobson is a chum of mine, and in a dusty den,
Within the street that's known as Fleet, he wields a wicked pen.
And every night it's his delight, above the fleeting show,
To castigate the living Great, and keep the lowly low.
And all there is to know he knows, for unto him is spurred
The knowledge of the knowledge of the Thing That Has Occurred.
And all that is to hear he hears, for to his ear is whirled
The echo of the echo of the Sound That Shocks The World.
Let Revolutions rage and rend, and Kingdoms rise and fall,
There Jobson sits and smokes and spits, and writes about it all.

And so we jawed a little while on matters small and great;
He told me his cynic smile of graves affairs of state.
Of princes, peers and presidents, and folks beyond my ken,
He spoke as you and I might speak of ordinary men.
For Jobson is a scribe of worth, and has respect for none,
And all the mighty ones of earth are targets for his fun.
So when I said good-bye, says he, with his satyric leer:
"Too bad to go, when life is so damned interesting here.
The Government rides for a fall, and things are getting hot.
You'd better stick around, old pal; you'll miss an awful lot."

Yet still I went and wandered far, by secret ways and wide.
Adventure was the shining star I took to be my guide.
For fifty moons I followed on, and every moon was sweet,
And lit as if for me alone the trail before my feet.
From cities desolate with doom my moons swam up and set,
On tower and temple, tent and tomb, on mosque and minaret.
To heights that hailed the dawn I scaled, by cliff and chasm sheer;
To far Cathy I found my way, and fabolous Kashmir.
From camel-back I traced the track that bars the barren bled,
And leads to hell-and-blazes, and I followed where it led.
Like emeralds in sapphire set, and ripe for human rape,
I passed with passionate regret the Islands of Escape.
With death I clinched a time or two, and gave the brute a fall.
Hunger and cold and thirst I knew, yet...how I loved it all!
Then suddenly I seemed to tire of trecking up and town,
And longed for some domestic fire, and sailed for London Town.

And in a pub that's off the Strand, and handy to the bar,
With pipe in mouth and mug in hand sat Jobson of the Star.
"Hullo!" says he, "come, take a pew, and tell me where you've been.
It seems to me that lately you have vanished from the scene."
"I've been," says I, "to Kordovan and Kong and Calabar,
To Sarawak and Samarkand, to Ghat and Bolivar;
To Caracas and Guayaquil, to Lhasa and Pekin,
To Brahmapurta and Brazil, to Bagdad and Benin.
I've sailed the Black Sea and the White, The Yellow and the Red,
The Sula and the Celebes, the Bering and the Dead.
I've climbed on Chimborazo, and I've wandered in Peru;
I've camped on Kinchinjunga, and I've crossed the Great Karoo.
I've drifted on the Hoang-ho, the Nile and Amazon;
I've swam the Tiber and the Po.." thus I was going on,
When Jobson yawned above his beer, and rumbled: "Is that so?...
It's been so damned exciting here, too bad you had to go.
We've had the devil of a slump; the market's gone to pot;
You should have stuck around, you chump, you've missed an awful lot."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In haggard lands where ages brood, on plains burnt out and dim,
I broke the bread of brotherhood with ruthless men and grim.
By ways untrod I walked with God, by parched and bitter path;
In deserts dim I talked with Him, and learned to know His Wrath.
But in a pub that's off the Strand, sits Jobson every night,
And tells me what a fool I am, and maybe he is right.
For Jobson is a man of stamp, and proud of him am I;
And I am just a bloody tramp, and will be till I die.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Erin Thomas (4/1/2013 5:33:00 PM)

    And there is no have a in the drink line, just drink. Well anyway, sit down you mug, and drink before you go. have a turns the line into an octameter, and the line is meant to be a heptameter. My god are all of Service's poems like this here? (Report) Reply

  • Erin Thomas (4/1/2013 5:31:00 PM)

    Jesus what's with all the errors? Does anyone happen to have the book with this poem in it so as to correct it? A lot of it is really basic, *the errant trail? *Then Jobson yawned? Hello? (Report) Reply

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