Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Little Puddleton


I

Let others sing of Empire and of pomp beyond the sea,
A song of Little Puddleton is good enough for me,
A song of kindly living, and of coming home to tea.

I seldom read the papers, so I don't know what goes on.
I go to bed at sunset, and I leap alert at dawn,
To gossip with my garden, which I'll have you understand,
Is the neatest and the sweetest little garden in the land;
A span of sunny quietude, with walls so high and stout,
They shut me in from all the world, and shut the whole world out,
So that its sad bewilderment seems less than true to me:
As placid as a pool I live, as tranquil as a tree;
And all its glory I would give for glint of linnet's wings;
My cabbages are more to me than continents and kings.
Dominion have I of my own, where feud and faction cease,
A heaven of tranquillity, a paradise of peace.

II

Let continents be bathed in blood and cities leap in flame;
The life of Little Puddleton goes on and on the same;
Its ritual we follow, as we play a pleasant game.

The village wortkies sit and smoke their long-stemmed pipes of clay.
And cheerily they nod to me, and pass the time of day.
We talk of pigs and clover, and the prospect of the crops,
And the price of eggs and butter - there the conversation drops.
For in a doubt-distracted world I keep the rustic touch;
I think it better not to think too deeply nor too much;
But just to dream and take delight in all I hear and see,
The tinker in the tavern, with his trollop on his knee;
The ivied church, the anvil clang, the geese upon the green,
The drowsy noon, the hush of eve so holy and screne.
This is my world, then back again with heart of joy I go
To cottage walls of mellow stain, and garden all aglow.

III

For all I've been and all I've seen I have no vain regret
One comes to Little Puddleton, contented to forget;
Accepting village values, immemorially set.

I did not make this world and so it's not my job to mend;
But I have fought for fifty years and now I hear the end;
And I am heart-faint from the fight, and claim the right to rest,
And dare to hope the last of life will prove to be the best.
For there have I four sturdy walls with low and humble thatch,
A smiling little orchard and a big potato patch.
And so with hoe in hand I stand and mock the dubious sky;
let revolution rock the land, serene, secure am I.
I grow my simple food, I groom my lettuce and my beans;
I feast in colour, form and song, and ask not what it means.
Beauty suffiices in itself; then when my strength is spent,
like simple hind with empty mind, I cultivate content.

Behold then Little Puddleton, the end of all my dreams.
Not much to show for life, I know; yet O how sweet it seems!
For when defeated day goes down in carnage in the West,
How blesses sanctuary is, and peace and love and rest!

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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