Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

My Typewriter


I used to think a pot of ink
Held magic in its fluid,
And I would ply a pen when I
Was hoary a a Druid;
But as I scratch my silver thatch
My battered old Corona
Calls out to me as plaintively
As dying Desdemona.

"For old time's sake give me a break:
To you I've been as loyal
As ever could an Underwood,
Or Remington or Royal.
The globe we've spanned together and
Two million words, maybe,
For you I've tapped - it's time you rapped
A rhyme or two for me.

"I've seen you sit and smoke and spit
With expletives profane,
Then tear with rage the virgin page
I tendered you in vain.
I've watched you glare in dull despair
Through hours of brooding thought,
Then with a shout bang gaily out
The 'word unique' you sought.

"I've heard you groan and grunt and moan
That rhyme's a wretched fetter;
That after all you're just a small
Fat-headed verse-begetter;
You'd balance me upon your knee
Like any lady friend,
Then with a sigh you'd lay me by
For weeks and weeks on end.

"I've known when you were mighty blue
And hammered me till dawn,
Dire poverty! But I would be
The last thing you would pawn.
Days debt-accurst! Then at its worst
The sky, behold, would clear;
A poem sold, the garret cold
Would leap to light and cheer.

"You've toted me by shore and sea
From Mexico to Maine;
From Old Cathay to Mandalay,
From Samarkand to Spain.
You've thumped me in the battle's din
And pounded me in peace;
By air and land you've lugged me and
Your shabby old valise.

"But now my keys no more with ease
To your two fingers yield;
With years of use my joints are loose,
With wear of flood and field.
And even you are slipping too:
You're puffy, stiff and grey:
Old Sport, we're done, our race is run -
Why not call it a day?"

Why not? You've been, poor old machine!
My tried and faithful friend.
With fingertip your keys I'll flip
Serenely to the end.
For even though you're stiff and slow,
No other will I buy.
And though each word be wan and blurred
I'll tap you till I die.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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