Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Centenarians


I asked of ancient gaffers three
The way of their ripe living,
And this is what they told to me
Without Misgiving.

The First: 'The why I've lived so long,
To my fond recollection
Is that for women, wine and song
I've had a predilection.
Full many a bawdy stave I've sung
With wenches of my choosing,
But of the joys that kept me young
The best was boozing.'

The Second: 'I'm a sage revered
Because I was a fool
And with the bourgeon of my beard
I kept my ardour cool.
On health I have conserved my hold
By never dissipating:
And that is why a hundred old
I'm celebrating.'

The Third: 'The explanation I
Have been so long a-olding,
Is that to wash I never try,
Despite conjugal scolding.
I hate the sight of soap and so
I seldom change my shirt:
Believe me, Brother, there is no
Preservative like dirt.'

So there you have the reasons three
Why age may you rejoice:
Booze, squalour and temerity,--
Well, you may take your choice.
Yet let me say, although it may
Your egoism hurt,
Of all the three it seems to me
The best is DIRT.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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