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Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Telegraph Operator


I will not wash my face;
I will not brush my hair;
I "pig" around the place--
There's nobody to care.
Nothing but rock and tree;
Nothing but wood and stone,
Oh, God, it's hell to be
Alone, alone, alone!

Snow-peaks and deep-gashed draws
Corral me in a ring.
I feel as if I was
The only living thing
On all this blighted earth;
And so I frowst and shrink,
And crouching by my hearth
I hear the thoughts I think.

I think of all I miss--
The boys I used to know;
The girls I used to kiss;
The coin I used to blow:
The bars I used to haunt;
The racket and the row;
The beers I didn't want
(I wish I had 'em now).

Day after day the same,
Only a little worse;
No one to grouch or blame--
Oh, for a loving curse!
Oh, in the night I fear,
Haunted by nameless things,
Just for a voice to cheer,
Just for a hand that clings!

Faintly as from a star
Voices come o'er the line;
Voices of ghosts afar,
Not in this world of mine;
Lives in whose loom I grope;
Words in whose weft I hear
Eager the thrill of hope,
Awful the chill of fear.

I'm thinking out aloud;
I reckon that is bad;
(The snow is like a shroud)--
Maybe I'm going mad.
Say! wouldn't that be tough?
This awful hush that hugs
And chokes one is enough
To make a man go "bugs".

There's not a thing to do;
I cannot sleep at night;
No wonder I'm so blue;
Oh, for a friendly fight!
The din and rush of strife;
A music-hall aglow;
A crowd, a city, life--
Dear God, I miss it so!

Here, you have moped enough!
Brace up and play the game!
But say, it's awful tough--
Day after day the same
(I've said that twice, I bet).
Well, there's not much to say.
I wish I had a pet,
Or something I could play.

Cheer up! don't get so glum
And sick of everything;
The worst is yet to come;
God help you till the Spring.
God shield you from the Fear;
Teach you to laugh, not moan.
Ha! ha! it sounds so queer--
Alone, alone, alone!

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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