Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Hat


In city shop a hat I saw
That to my fancy seemed to strike,
I gave my wage to buy the straw,
And make myself a one the like.

I wore it to the village fair;
Oh proud I was, though poor was I.
The maids looked at me with a stare,
The lads looked at me with a sigh.

I wore it Sunday to the Mass.
The other girls wore handkerchiefs.
I saw them darkly watch and pass,
With sullen smiles, with hidden griefs.

And then with sobbing fear I fled,
But they waylayed me on the street,
And tore the hat from off my head,
And trampled it beneath their feet.

I sought the Church; my grief was wild,
And by my mother's grave I sat:
. . . I've never cried for clay-cold child,
As I wept for that ruined hat.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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