Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

A Verseman's Apology - Poem by Robert William Service

Alas! I am only a rhymer,
I don't know the meaning of Art;
But I learned in my little school primer
To love Eugene Field and Bret Harte.
I hailed Hoosier Ryley with pleasure,
To John Hay I took off my hat;
These fellows were right to my measure,
And I've never gone higher than that.

The Classics! Well, most of them bore me,
The Moderns I don't understand;
But I keep Burns, my kinsman before me,
And Kipling, my friend, is at hand.
They taught me my trade as I know it,
Yet though at their feet I have sat,
For God-sake don't call me a poet,
For I've never been guilty of that.

A rhyme-rustler, rugged and shameless,
A Bab Balladeer on the loose;
Of saccarine sonnets I'm blameless,
My model has been - Mother Goose.
And I fancy my grave-digger griping
As he gives my last lodging a pat:
"This guy wrote McGrew;
'Twas the best he could do" . . .
So I'll go to my maker with that.

Comments about A Verseman's Apology by Robert William Service

  • Susan Williams (9/5/2018 4:44:00 PM)

    I don't think I will take his talent at his word- -his poetry often has a bite beneath its words, a wry look below the surface (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (9/5/2018 7:50:00 AM)

    She always loves a humble poet (Report) Reply

  • Glen Kappy (9/5/2018 7:46:00 AM)

    Service is pointing out something in this poem that I think it’s important to note—the gap between what I’ll call popular poetry and what I can only think of, at the moment, as the more refined or high-brow stuff. But Service, I’m guessing, is not representing his own tastes completely. The reason “classics” like the Odyssey and Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s plays endure is that they were able to cross the gap and appeal to low and high-brow both. -GK (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (9/5/2018 4:45:00 AM)

    An ironic view of his own ability as a poet. 'For God's sake don't call me a poet, For I've never been guilty of that' (Report) Reply

  • Mahtab Bangalee (9/5/2018 3:58:00 AM)

    the great poetic expression on the thought of apology -

    For God-sake don't call me a poet,
    For I've never been guilty of that.
    (Report) Reply

  • Rajnish Manga (9/5/2018 3:04:00 AM)

    A fine and humble tribute to great poets of the past and to their invaluable contribution to the world of literature. Thanks for sharing this timeless piece of poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Petals Azureblue (9/5/2018 2:52:00 AM)

    An amazing denial/ apology by Robert. Enjoyed the read (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (9/5/2018 1:10:00 AM)

    Such a fine work by Robert William Service............................ (Report) Reply

Read all 8 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: school, friend, mother, god

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]