Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

O Lovely Lie


I told a truth, a tragic truth
That tore the sullen sky;
A million shuddered at my sooth
And anarchist was I.
Red righteousness was in my word
To winnow evil chaff;
Yet while I swung crusading sword
I heard the devil laugh.

I framed a lie, a rainbow lie
To glorify a thought;
And none was so surprised as I
When fast as fire it caught.
Like honey people lapped my lie
And peddled it abroad,
Till in a lift of sunny sky
I saw the smile of God.

If falsehood may be best, I thought,
To hell with verity;
Dark truth may be a cancer spot
'Twere better not to see.
Aye, let a lie be big and bold
Yet ripe with hope and ruth,
Beshrew me! but its heart may hold
More virtue than the truth.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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