Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Rhyme-Smith


Oh, I was born a lyric babe
(That last word is a bore -
It's only rhyme is astrolabe,"
Whose meaning I ignore.)
From cradlehood I lisped in numbers,
Made jingles even in my slumbers.
Said Ma: "He'll be a bard, I know it."
Said Pa: "let's hoe he will outgrow it."

Alas! I never did and so
A dreamer and a drone was I,
Who persevered in want and woe
His misery to versify.
Yea, I was doomed to be a failure
(Old Browning rhymes that last with "pale lure"):
And even starving in the gutter,
My macaronics I would utter.

Then in a poor, cheap book I crammed,
And to the public maw I tossed
My bitter Dirges of the Damned,
My Lyrics of the Lost.
"Let carping critic flay and flout
My Ditties of the Down and Out -
"There now," said I, "I've done with verse,
My love, my weakness and my curse."

Then lo! (As I would fain believe,
Before they crown, the fates would shame us)
I went to sleep one bitter eve,
And woke to find that I was famous. . . .
And so the sunny sequels were a
Gay villa on the Riviera,
A bank account, a limousine, a
Life patterned dolce e divina.

Oh, yes, my lyric flight is flighty;
My muse is much more mite than mighty:
But poetry has been my friend,
And rhyming's saved me in the end.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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