Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Man From Cook's - Poem by Robert William Service

"You're bloody right - I was a Red,"
The Man from Cook's morosely said.
And if our chaps had won the War
Today I'd be the Governor
Of all Madrid, and rule with pride,
Instead of just a lousy guide.

"For I could talk in Councils high
To draw down angels from the sky.
They put me seven years in gaol, -
You see how I am prison-pale . . .
Death sentence! Each dawn I thought
They'd drag me out and have me shot.

"Maybe far better if they had:
Suspense like that can make one mad.
Yet here I am serene and sane,
And at your service to explain
That gory battlefield out there,
The Cité Universitaire.

"See! Where the Marzanillo flows,
The women used to wash our cloths;
And often, even in its flood,
It would be purpled by our blood.
Contemptuous of shot and shell
Our women sang and - fought like hell.

"Deep trenches there ran up and down,
And linked us with the sightless town;
And every morn and every night
We sallied savagely to fight . . .
By yon ravine in broken clad
I shot and killed a soldier lad.

"Such boys they were: methinks that one
Looked to me like my only son.
He might have been; they told my wife
Before Madrid he lost his life.
Sweet Mary! Oh if I but knew
It was not my own son I slew. . . ."

So spoke that man with eye remote
And stains of gravy on his coat;
I offered him a cigarette,
And as he sighed with vain regret,
Said he: "Don't change your dollars - wait:
I'll get you twice the market rate."


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Read poems about / on: women, son, soldier, pride, today, change, war, red, lost, sky, death, night, woman, angel, running



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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