Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

My Centenarian


A hundred years is a lot of living
I've often thought. and I'll know, maybe,
Some day if the gods are good in giving,
And grant me to turn the century.
Yet in all my eighty years of being
I've never known but one ancient man
Who actively feeling, hearing, seeing,
Survived t beyond the hundred span.

Thinking? No, I don't guess he pondered;
He had the brains of a tiny tot,
And in his mind he so often wandered,
I doubted him capable of thought.
He hadn't much to think of anyway,
There in the village of his birth,
Painfully poor in a pinching penny-way,
And grimed with the soiling of Mother Earth.

Then one day motoring past his cottage,
The hovel in which he had been born,
I saw him supping a mess of pottage,
on the sill door, so fail forlorn.
Thinks I: I'll give him a joy that's thrilling,
A spin in my open Cadillac;
And so I asked him, and he was willing,
And I installed him there in the back.

en I put the big bus through its paces,
A hundred miles an hour or more;
And he clutched at me with queer grimaces,
(He's never been in a car before.)
The motor roared and the road was level,
The old chap laughed like an impish boy,
And as I drove like the very devil,
Darn him! he peed his pants with joy.

And so I crowned his long existence
By showing him how our modern speed
Easily can annihilate distance,
And answer to all our modern need.
And I went on my way but little caring,
Until I heard to mild dismay,
His drive had thrilled him beyond all bearing . . .
The poor old devil! - He died next day.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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