Treasure Island

Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Window Shopper


I stood before a candy shop
Which with a Christmas radiance shone;
I saw my parents pass and stop
To grin at me and then go on.
The sweets were heaped in gleamy rows;
On each I feasted - what a game!
Against the glass with flatted nose,
Gulping my spittle as it came;
So still I stood, and stared and dreamed,
Savouring sweetness with my eyes,
Devouring dainties till it seemed
My candy shop was paradise.

I had, I think, but five years old,
And though three-score and ten have passed,
I still recall the craintive cold,
The grimy street, the gritty blast;
And how I stared into that shop,
Its gifts so near and yet so far,
Of marzipan and toffee drop,
Of chocolate and walnut bar;
Imagining what I would buy
Amid delights so rich and rare . . .
The glass was misted with my sigh:
"If just one penny Pop could spare!"

And then when I went home to tea
Of bread and butter sparsely spread,
Oh, how my parents twitted me:
"You stood for full an hour," they said.
"We saw you as we passed again;
Your eyes upon the sweets were glued;
Your nose was flattened to the pane,
Like someone hypnotized you stood."
But when they laughed as at a joke,
A bitterness I could not stem
Within my little heart awoke. . . .
Oh, I have long forgiven them;
For though I know they did no own
Pennies to spare, they might, it seems
More understanding love have shown
More sympathy for those vain dreams,
Which make of me with wistful gaze
God's Window Shopper all days.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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