Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Man Child


All day he lay upon the sand
When summer sun was bright,
And let the grains sift through his hand
With infantile delight;
Just like a child, so soft and fair,
Though he was twenty-five -
An innocent, my mother -care
Had kept so long alive.

Oh it is hard to bear a cross
For five-and-twenty years;
A daft son and a husband's loss
Are woes out-weighing tears.
Yet bright and beautiful was he,
Though barely could he walk;
And when he signaled out to sea
His talk was baby talk.

The man I loved was drowned out there
When we were ten weeks wed.
'Tis bitter hard a boy to bear
That's fathered by the dead.
And now I give my life to him
Because he needs me so;
And as I look my sight is dim
With pity, love and woe. . . .

Then suddenly I see him rise,
Tall, stalwart and serene . . .
Lo! There he stands before my eyes,
The man he might have been.

"Dear Mother mine," I hear him say,
"The curse that bound me fast,
Some miracle has swept away,
And all you pain is past.
Now I am strong and sane and free,
And you shall have your due;
For as you loved and cherished me,
I'll love and cherish you."

His kisses sooth away my pain,
His clasp is paradise . . .
Then - then I look at him again
With terror in my eyes:

For down he sinks upon the sand,
And heavy droops his head;
The golden grains drift through his hand . . .
I know - my boy is dead.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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