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Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

My Masters


Of Poetry I've been accused,
But much more often I have not;
Oh, I have been so much amused
By those who've put me on the spot,
And measured me by rules above
Those I observe with equal love.

An artisan of verse am I,
Of simple sense and humble tone;
My Thesaurus is handy by,
A rhyming lexicon I own;
Without them I am ill at ease -
What bards would use such aids as these?

Bad poets make good verse, they say;
The Great have not distained to woo
The modest muse of every day;
Read Longfellow and Byron through,
The fabric test - much verse you'll see
Compared with what is poetry.

Small blame; one cannot always soar
To heights of hyaline sublime;
Melodious prose one must deplore,
And fetters of rebellious rhyme:
Keats, Browning - that's another tale,
But even Giants fail and fail.

I've worshipped Ryley, Harte and Field,
And though their minstrelsy I lack,
To them heart-homage here I yield,
And follow with my verseman's pack:
To them with gratitude I look,
For briefing me to make this book.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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