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Rhymes of a Rolling Stone by Robert W. Service

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(But that's "another story", pal; I'll tell it you some day.)

How strange two "irresponsibles" should chum away up here!
But round the Arctic Circle friends are few and far between.
We've shared the same camp-fire and tent for nigh on seven year,
And never had a word that wasn't cheering and serene.
We've halved the toil and split the spoil, and borne each other's packs;
By all the Wild's freemasonry we're brothers, tried and true;
We've swept on danger side by side, and fought it back to back,
And you would die for me, old pal, and I would die for you.

Now there was that time I got lost in Rory Bory Land,
(How quick the blizzards sweep on one across that Polar sea!)
You formed a rescue crew of One, and saw a frozen hand
That stuck out of a drift of snow -- and, partner, it was Me.
But I got even, did I not, that day the paddle broke?
White water on the Coppermine -- a rock -- a split canoe --
Two fellows struggling in the foam (one couldn't swim a stroke):
A half-drowned man I dragged ashore . . . and partner, it was You.

* * * * *

In Rory Borealis Land the winter's long and black.
The silence seems a solid thing, shot through with wolfish woe;
And rowelled by the eager stars the skies vault vastly back,
And man seems but a little mite on that weird-lit plateau.
No thing to do but smoke and yarn of wild and misspent lives,
Beside the camp-fire there we sat -- what tales you told to me
Of love and hate, and chance and fate, and temporary wives!
In Rory Borealis Land, beside the Arctic Sea.

One yarn you told me in those days I can remember still;
It seemed as if I visioned it, so sharp you sketched it in;
Bellona was the name, I think; a coast town in Brazil,
Where nobody did anything but serenade and sin.
I saw it all -- the jewelled sea, the golden scythe of sand,
The stately pillars of the palms, the feathery bamboo,
The red-roofed houses and the swart, sun-dominated land,
The people ever children, and the heavens ever blue.

You told me of that girl of yours, that blossom of old Spain,
All glamour, grace and witchery, all passion, verve and glow.
How maddening she must have been! You made me see her plain,
There by our little camp-fire, in the silence and the snow.
You loved her and she loved you. She'd a husband, too, I think,
A doctor chap, you told me, whom she treated like a dog,
A white man living on the beach, a hopeless slave to drink --
(Just turn that bannock over there, that's propped against the log.)

That story seemed to strike me, pal -- it happens every day:
You had to go away awhile, then somehow it befell
The doctor chap discovered, gave her up, and disappeared;
You came back, tired of her in time . . . there's nothing more to tell.
Hist! see those willows silvering where swamp and river meet!
Just reach me up my rifle quick; that's Mister Moose, I know --
There now, I'VE GOT HIM DEAD TO RIGHTS . . . but hell! we've lots to eat
I don't believe in taking life -- we'll let the beggar go.

Heigh ho! I'm tired; the bannock's cooked; it's time we both turned in.
The morning mist is coral-kissed, the morning sky is gold.
The camp-fire's a confessional -- what funny yarns we spin!
It sort of made me think a bit, that story that you told.
The fig-leaf belt and Rory Bory are such odd extremes,
Yet after all how very small this old world seems to be . . .
Yes, that was quite a yarn, old pal, and yet to me it seems
You missed the point: the point is that
the "doctor chap" . . . was ME. . . .

The Lost Master

"And when I come to die," he said,
"Ye shall not lay me out in state,
Nor leave your laurels at my head,
Nor cause your men of speech orate;
No monument your gift shall be,
No column in the Hall of Fame;
But just this line ye grave for me:
`He played the game.'"

So when his glorious task was done,
It was not of his fame we thought;
It was not of his battles won,
But of the pride with which he fought;
But of his zest, his ringing laugh,
His trenchant scorn of praise or blame:
And so we graved his epitaph,
"He played the game."

And so we, too, in humbler ways
Went forth to fight the fight anew,
And heeding neither blame nor praise,
We held the course he set us true.
And we, too, find the fighting sweet;
And we, too, fight for fighting's sake;
And though we go down in defeat,
And though our stormy hearts may break,
We will not do our Master shame:
We'll play the game, please God,
We'll play the game.

Little Moccasins

Come out, O Little Moccasins, and frolic on the snow!
Come out, O tiny beaded feet, and twinkle in the light!
I'll play the old Red River reel, you used to love it so:
Awake, O Little Moccasins, and dance for me to-night!

Your hair was all a gleamy gold, your eyes a corn-flower blue;
Your cheeks were pink as tinted shells, you stepped light as a fawn;
Your mouth was like a coral bud, with seed pearls peeping through;
As gladdening as Spring you were, as radiant as dawn.

Come out, O Little Moccasins! I'll play so soft and low,
The songs you loved, the old heart-songs that in my mem'ry ring;
O child, I want to hear you now beside the campfire glow!
With all your heart a-throbbing in the simple words you sing.

For there was only you and I, and you were all to me;
And round us were the barren lands, but little did we fear;
Of all God's happy, happy folks the happiest were we. . . .
(Oh, call her, poor old fiddle mine, and maybe she will hear!)

Your mother was a half-breed Cree, but you were white all through;
And I, your father was -- but well, that's neither here nor there;
I only know, my little Queen, that all my world was you,
And now that world can end to-night, and I will never care.

For there's a tiny wooden cross that pricks up through the snow:
(Poor Little Moccasins! you're tired, and so you lie at rest.)
And there's a grey-haired, weary man beside the campfire glow:
(O fiddle mine! the tears to-night are drumming on your breast.)

The Wanderlust

The Wanderlust has lured me to the seven lonely seas,
Has dumped me on the tailing-piles of dearth;
The Wanderlust has haled me from the morris chairs of ease,
Has hurled me to the ends of all the earth.
How bitterly I've cursed it, oh, the Painted Desert knows,
The wraithlike heights that hug the pallid plain,
The all-but-fluid silence, -- yet the longing grows and grows,
And I've got to glut the Wanderlust again.

Soldier, sailor, in what a plight I've been!
Tinker, tailor, oh what a sight I've seen!
And I'm hitting the trail in the morning, boys,
And you won't see my heels for dust;
For it's "all day" with you
When you answer the cue
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust has got me . . . by the belly-aching fire,
By the fever and the freezing and the pain;
By the darkness that just drowns you, by the wail of home desire,
I've tried to break the spell of it -- in vain.
Life might have been a feast for me, now there are only crumbs;
In rags and tatters, beggar-wise I sit;
Yet there's no rest or peace for me, imperious it drums,
The Wanderlust, and I must follow it.

Highway, by-way, many a mile I've done;
Rare way, fair way, many a height I've won;
But I'm pulling my freight in the morning, boys,
And it's over the hills or bust;
For there's never a cure
When you list to the lure
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust has taught me . . . it has whispered to my heart
Things all you stay-at-homes will never know.
The white man and the savage are but three short days apart,
Three days of cursing, crawling, doubt and woe.
Then it's down to chewing muclucs, to the water you can EAT,
To fish you bolt with nose held in your hand.
When you get right down to cases, it's King's Grub that rules the races,
And the Wanderlust will help you understand.

Haunting, taunting, that is the spell of it;
Mocking, baulking, that is the hell of it;
But I'll shoulder my pack in the morning, boys,
And I'm going because I must;
For it's so-long to all
When you answer the call
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust has blest me . . . in a ragged blanket curled,
I've watched the gulf of Heaven foam with stars;
I've walked with eyes wide open to the wonder of the world,
I've seen God's flood of glory burst its bars.
I've seen the gold a-blinding in the riffles of the sky,
Till I fancied me a bloated plutocrat;
But I'm freedom's happy bond-slave, and I will be till I die,
And I've got to thank the Wanderlust for that.

Wild heart, child heart, all of the world your home.
Glad heart, mad heart, what can you do but roam?
Oh, I'll beat it once more in the morning, boys,
With a pinch of tea and a crust;
For you cannot deny
When you hark to the cry
Of the Wan-der-lust.

The Wanderlust will claim me at the finish for its own.
I'll turn my back on men and face the Pole.
Beyond the Arctic outposts I will venture all alone;
Some Never-never Land will be my goal.
Thank God! there's none will miss me, for I've been a bird of flight;
And in my moccasins I'll take my call;
For the Wanderlust has ruled me,
And the Wanderlust has schooled me,
And I'm ready for the darkest trail of all.

Grim land, dim land, oh, how the vastness calls!
Far land, star land, oh, how the stillness falls!
For you never can tell if it's heaven or hell,
And I'm taking the trail on trust;
But I haven't a doubt
That my soul will leap out
On its Wan-der-lust.

The Trapper's Christmas Eve

It's mighty lonesome-like and drear.
Above the Wild the moon rides high,
And shows up sharp and needle-clear
The emptiness of earth and sky;
No happy homes with love a-glow;
No Santa Claus to make believe:
Just snow and snow, and then more snow;
It's Christmas Eve, it's Christmas Eve.

And here am I where all things end,
And Undesirables are hurled;
A poor old man without a friend,
Forgot and dead to all the world;
Clean out of sight and out of mind . . .
Well, maybe it is better so;
We all in life our level find,
And mine, I guess, is pretty low.

Yet as I sit with pipe alight
Beside the cabin-fire, it's queer
This mind of mine must take to-night
The backward trail of fifty year.
The school-house and the Christmas tree;
The children with their cheeks a-glow;
Two bright blue eyes that smile on me . . .
Just half a century ago.

Again (it's maybe forty years),
With faith and trust almost divine,
These same blue eyes, abrim with tears,
Through depths of love look into mine.
A parting, tender, soft and low,
With arms that cling and lips that cleave . . .
Ah me! it's all so long ago,
Yet seems so sweet this Christmas Eve.

Just thirty years ago, again . . .
We say a bitter, LAST good-bye;
Our lips are white with wrath and pain;
Our little children cling and cry.
Whose was the fault? it matters not,
For man and woman both deceive;
It's buried now and all forgot,
Forgiven, too, this Christmas Eve.

And she (God pity me) is dead;
Our children men and women grown.
I like to think that they are wed,
With little children of their own,
That crowd around their Christmas tree . . .
I would not ever have them grieve,
Or shed a single tear for me,
To mar their joy this Christmas Eve.

Stripped to the buff and gaunt and still
Lies all the land in grim distress.
Like lost soul wailing, long and shrill,
A wolf-howl cleaves the emptiness.
Then hushed as Death is everything.
The moon rides haggard and forlorn . . .
"O hark the herald angels sing!"
God bless all men -- it's Christmas morn.

The World's All Right

Be honest, kindly, simple, true;
Seek good in all, scorn but pretence;
Whatever sorrow come to you,
Believe in Life's Beneficence!

The World's all right; serene I sit,
And cease to puzzle over it.
There's much that's mighty strange, no doubt;
But Nature knows what she's about;
And in a million years or so
We'll know more than to-day we know.
Old Evolution's under way --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Could things be other than they are?
All's in its place, from mote to star.
The thistledown that flits and flies
Could drift no hair-breadth otherwise.
What is, must be; with rhythmic laws
All Nature chimes, Effect and Cause.
The sand-grain and the sun obey --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Just try to get the Cosmic touch,
The sense that "you" don't matter much.
A million stars are in the sky;
A million planets plunge and die;
A million million men are sped;
A million million wait ahead.
Each plays his part and has his day --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Just try to get the Chemic view:
A million million lives made "you".
In lives a million you will be
Immortal down Eternity;
Immortal on this earth to range,
With never death, but ever change.
You always were, and will be aye --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Be glad! And do not blindly grope
For Truth that lies beyond our scope:
A sober plot informeth all
Of Life's uproarious carnival.
Your day is such a little one,
A gnat that lives from sun to sun;
Yet gnat and you have parts to play --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

And though it's written from the start,
Just act your best your little part.
Just be as happy as you can,
And serve your kind, and die -- a man.
Just live the good that in you lies,
And seek no guerdon of the skies;
Just make your Heaven here, to-day --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

Remember! in Creation's swing
The Race and not the man's the thing.
There's battle, murder, sudden death,
And pestilence, with poisoned breath.
Yet quick forgotten are such woes;
On, on the stream of Being flows.
Truth, Beauty, Love uphold their sway --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

The World's all right; serene I sit,
And joy that I am part of it;
And put my trust in Nature's plan,
And try to aid her all I can;
Content to pass, if in my place
I've served the uplift of the Race.
Truth! Beauty! Love! O Radiant Day --
What ho! the World's all right, I say.

The Baldness of Chewed-Ear

When Chewed-ear Jenkins got hitched up to Guinneyveer McGee,
His flowin' locks, ye recollect, wuz frivolous an' free;
But in old Hymen's jack-pot, it's a most amazin' thing,
Them flowin' locks jest disappeared like snow-balls in the Spring;
Jest seemed to wilt an' fade away like dead leaves in the Fall,
An' left old Chewed-ear balder than a white-washed cannon ball.

Now Missis Chewed-ear Jenkins, that wuz Guinneyveer McGee,
Wuz jest about as fine a draw as ever made a pair;
But when the boys got joshin' an' suggested it was she
That must be inflooenshul for the old man's slump in hair --
Why! Missis Chewed-ear Jenkins jest went clean up in the air.

"To demonstrate," sez she that night, "the lovin' wife I am,
I've bought a dozen bottles of Bink's Anty-Dandruff Balm.
'Twill make yer hair jest sprout an' curl like squash-vines in the sun,
An' I'm propose to sling it on till every drop is done."
That hit old Chewed-ear's funny side, so he lays back an' hollers:
"The day you raise a hair, old girl, you'll git a thousand dollars."

Now, whether 'twas the prize or not 'tis mighty hard to say,
But Chewed-ear didn't seem to have much comfort from that day.
With bottles of that dandruff dope she followed at his heels,
An' sprinkled an' massaged him even when he ate his meals.
She waked him from his beauty sleep with tender, lovin' care,
An' rubbed an' scrubbed assiduous, yet never sign of hair.

Well, naturally all the boys soon tumbled to the joke,
An' at the Wow-wow's Social 'twas Cold-deck Davis spoke:
"The little woman's working mighty hard on Chewed-ear's crown;
Let's give her for a three-fifth's share a hundred dollars down.
We stand to make five hundred clear -- boys, drink in whiskey straight:
`The Chewed-ear Jenkins Hirsute Propagation Syndicate'."

The boys wuz on, an' soon chipped in the necessary dust;
They primed up a committy to negotiate the deal;
Then Missis Jenkins yielded, bein' rather in disgust,
An' all wuz signed an' witnessed, an' invested with a seal.
They rounded up old Chewed-ear, an' they broke it what they'd done;
Allowed they'd bought an interest in his chance of raisin' hair;
They yanked his hat off anxiouslike, opinin' one by one
Their magnifyin' glasses showed fine prospects everywhere.
They bought Hairlene, an' Thatchem, an' Jay's Capillery Juice,
An' Seven Something Sisters, an' Macassar an' Bay Rum,
An' everyone insisted on his speshul right to sluice
His speshul line of lotion onto Chewed-ear's cranium.
They only got the merrier the more the old man roared,
An' shares in "Jenkins Hirsute" went sky-highin' on the board.

The Syndicate wuz hopeful that they'd demonstrate the pay,
An' Missis Jenkins laboured in her perseverin' way.
The boys discussed on "surface rights", an' "out-crops" an' so on,
An' planned to have it "crown" surveyed, an' blue prints of it drawn.
They ran a base line, sluiced an' yelled, an' everyone wuz glad,
Except the balance of the property, an' he wuz "mad".
"It gives me pain," he interjects, "to squash yer glowin' dream,
But you wuz fools when you got in on this here `Hirsute' scheme.
You'll never raise a hair on me," when lo! that very night,
Preparin' to retire he got a most onpleasant fright:
For on that shinin' dome of his, so prominently bare,
He felt the baby outcrop of a second growth of hair.

A thousand dollars! Sufferin' Caesar! Well, it must be saved!
He grabbed his razor recklesslike, an' shaved an' shaved an' shaved.
An' when his head was smooth again he gives a mighty sigh,
An' sneaks away, an' buys some Hair Destroyer on the sly.
So there wuz Missis Jenkins with "Restorer" wagin' fight,
An' Chewed-ear with "Destroyer" circumventin' her at night.
The battle wuz a mighty one; his nerves wuz on the strain,
An' yet in spite of all he did that hair began to gain.

The situation grew intense, so quietly one day,
He gave his share-holders the slip, an' made his get-a-way.
Jest like a criminal he skipped, an' aimed to defalcate
The Chewed-ear Jenkins Hirsute Propagation Syndicate.
His guilty secret burned him, an' he sought the city's din:
"I've got to get a wig," sez he, "to cover up my sin.
It's growin', growin' night an' day; it's most amazin' hair";
An' when he looked at it that night, he shuddered with despair.
He shuddered an' suppressed a cry at what his optics seen --
For on my word of honour, boys, that hair wuz growin' GREEN.

At first he guessed he'd get some dye, an' try to dye it black;
An' then he saw 'twas Nemmysis wuz layin' on his track.
He must jest face the music, an' confess the thing he done,
An' pay the boys an' Guinneyveer the money they had won.
An' then there came a big idee -- it thrilled him like a shock:
Why not control the Syndicate by buyin' up the Stock?

An' so next day he hurried back with smoothly shaven pate,
An' for a hundred dollars he bought up the Syndicate.
'Twas mighty frenzied finance an' the boys set up a roar,
But "Hirsutes" from the market wuz withdrawn for evermore.
An' to this day in Nuggetsville they tell the tale how slick
The Syndicate sold out too soon, and Chewed-ear turned the trick.

The Mother

There will be a singing in your heart,
There will be a rapture in your eyes;
You will be a woman set apart,
You will be so wonderful and wise.
You will sleep, and when from dreams you start,
As of one that wakes in Paradise,
There will be a singing in your heart,
There will be a rapture in your eyes.

There will be a moaning in your heart,
There will be an anguish in your eyes;
You will see your dearest ones depart,
You will hear their quivering good-byes.
Yours will be the heart-ache and the smart,
Tears that scald and lonely sacrifice;
There will be a moaning in your heart,
There will be an anguish in your eyes.

There will come a glory in your eyes,
There will come a peace within your heart;
Sitting 'neath the quiet evening skies,
Time will dry the tear and dull the smart.
You will know that you have played your part;
Yours shall be the love that never dies:
You, with Heaven's peace within your heart,
You, with God's own glory in your eyes.

The Dreamer

The lone man gazed and gazed upon his gold,
His sweat, his blood, the wage of weary days;
But now how sweet, how doubly sweet to hold
All gay and gleamy to the campfire blaze.
The evening sky was sinister and cold;
The willows shivered, wanly lay the snow;
The uncommiserating land, so old,
So worn, so grey, so niggard in its woe,
Peered through its ragged shroud. The lone man sighed,
Poured back the gaudy dust into its poke,
Gazed at the seething river listless-eyed,
Loaded his corn-cob pipe as if to smoke;
Then crushed with weariness and hardship crept
Into his ragged robe, and swiftly slept.

. . . . .

Hour after hour went by; a shadow slipped
From vasts of shadow to the camp-fire flame;
Gripping a rifle with a deadly aim,
A gaunt and hairy man with wolfish eyes . . .

* * * * *

The sleeper dreamed, and lo! this was his dream:
He rode a streaming horse across a moor.
Sudden 'mid pit-black night a lightning gleam
Showed him a way-side inn, forlorn and poor.
A sullen host unbarred the creaking door,
And led him to a dim and dreary room;
Wherein he sat and poked the fire a-roar,
So that weird shadows jigged athwart the gloom.
He ordered wine. 'Od's blood! but he was tired.
What matter! Charles was crushed and George was King;
His party high in power; how he aspired!
Red guineas packed his purse, too tight to ring.
The fire-light gleamed upon his silken hose,
His silver buckles and his powdered wig.
What ho! more wine! He drank, he slowly rose.
What made the shadows dance that madcap jig?
He clutched the candle, steered his way to bed,
And in a trice was sleeping like the dead.

. . . . .

Across the room there crept, so shadow soft,
His sullen host, with naked knife a-gleam,
(A gaunt and hairy man with wolfish eyes.) . . .
And as he lay, the sleeper dreamed a dream.

* * * * *

'Twas in a ruder land, a wilder day.
A rival princeling sat upon his throne,
Within a dungeon, dark and foul he lay,
With chains that bit and festered to the bone.
They haled him harshly to a vaulted room,
Where One gazed on him with malignant eye;
And in that devil-face he read his doom,
Knowing that ere the dawn-light he must die.
Well, he was sorrow-glutted; let them bring
Their prize assassins to the bloody work.
His kingdom lost, yet would he die a King,
Fearless and proud, as when he faced the Turk.
Ah God! the glory of that great Crusade!
The bannered pomp, the gleam, the splendid urge!
The crash of reeking combat, blade to blade!
The reeling ranks, blood-avid and a-surge!
For long he thought; then feeling o'er him creep
Vast weariness, he fell into a sleep.

. . . . .

The cell door opened; soft the headsman came,
Within his hand a mighty axe a-gleam,
(A gaunt and hairy man with wolfish eyes,) . . .
And as he lay, the sleeper dreamed a dream.

* * * * *

'Twas in a land unkempt of life's red dawn;
Where in his sanded cave he dwelt alone;
Sleeping by day, or sometimes worked upon
His flint-head arrows and his knives of stone;
By night stole forth and slew the savage boar,
So that he loomed a hunter of loud fame,
And many a skin of wolf and wild-cat wore,
And counted many a flint-head to his name;
Wherefore he walked the envy of the band,
Hated and feared, but matchless in his skill.
Till lo! one night deep in that shaggy land,
He tracked a yearling bear and made his kill;
Then over-worn he rested by a stream,
And sank into a sleep too deep for dream.

. . . . .

Hunting his food a rival caveman crept
Through those dark woods, and marked him where he lay;
Cowered and crawled upon him as he slept,
Poising a mighty stone aloft to slay --
(A gaunt and hairy man with wolfish eyes.) . . .

* * * * *

The great stone crashed. The Dreamer shrieked and woke,
And saw, fear-blinded, in his dripping cell,
A gaunt and hairy man, who with one stroke
Swung a great ax of steel that flashed and fell . . .

So that he woke amid his bedroom gloom,
And saw, hair-poised, a naked, thirsting knife,
A gaunt and hairy man with eyes of doom --
And then the blade plunged down to drink his life . . .
So that he woke, wrenched back his robe, and looked,
And saw beside his dying fire upstart
A gaunt and hairy man with finger crooked --
A rifle rang, a bullet searched his heart . . .

* * * * *

The morning sky was sinister and cold.
Grotesque the Dreamer sprawled, and did not rise.
For long and long there gazed upon some gold
A GAUNT AND HAIRY MAN WITH WOLFISH EYES.

At Thirty-Five

Three score and ten, the psalmist saith,
And half my course is well-nigh run;
I've had my flout at dusty death,
I've had my whack of feast and fun.
I've mocked at those who prate and preach;
I've laughed with any man alive;
But now with sobered heart I reach
The Great Divide of Thirty-five.

And looking back I must confess
I've little cause to feel elate.
I've played the mummer more or less;
I fumbled fortune, flouted fate.
I've vastly dreamed and little done;
I've idly watched my brothers strive:
Oh, I have loitered in the sun
By primrose paths to Thirty-five!

And those who matched me in the race,
Well, some are out and trampled down;
The others jog with sober pace;
Yet one wins delicate renown.
O midnight feast and famished dawn!
O gay, hard life, with hope alive!
O golden youth, forever gone,
How sweet you seem at Thirty-five!

Each of our lives is just a book
As absolute as Holy Writ;
We humbly read, and may not look
Ahead, nor change one word of it.
And here are joys and here are pains;
And here we fail and here we thrive;
O wondrous volume! what remains
When we reach chapter Thirty-five?

The very best, I dare to hope,
Ere Fate writes Finis to the tome;
A wiser head, a wider scope,
And for the gipsy heart, a home;
A songful home, with loved ones near,
With joy, with sunshine all alive:
Watch me grow younger every year --
Old Age! thy name is Thirty-five!

The Squaw Man

The cow-moose comes to water, and the beaver's overbold,
The net is in the eddy of the stream;
The teepee stars the vivid sward with russet, red and gold,
And in the velvet gloom the fire's a-gleam.
The night is ripe with quiet, rich with incense of the pine;
From sanctuary lake I hear the loon;
The peaks are bright against the blue, and drenched with sunset wine,
And like a silver bubble is the moon.

Cloud-high I climbed but yesterday; a hundred miles around
I looked to see a rival fire a-gleam.
As in a crystal lens it lay, a land without a bound,
All lure, and virgin vastitude, and dream.
The great sky soared exultantly, the great earth bared its breast,
All river-veined and patterned with the pine;
The heedless hordes of caribou were streaming to the West,
A land of lustrous mystery -- and mine.

Yea, mine to frame my Odyssey: Oh, little do they know
My conquest and the kingdom that I keep!
The meadows of the musk-ox, where the laughing grasses grow,
The rivers where the careless conies leap.
Beyond the silent Circle, where white men are fierce and few,
I lord it, and I mock at man-made law;
Like a flame upon the water is my little light canoe,
And yonder in the fireglow is my squaw.

A squaw man! yes, that's what I am; sneer at me if you will.
I've gone the grilling pace that cannot last;
With bawdry, bridge and brandy -- Oh, I've drank enough to kill
A dozen such as you, but that is past.
I've swung round to my senses, found the place where I belong;
The City made a madman out of me;
But here beyond the Circle, where there's neither right or wrong,
I leap from life's straight-jacket, and I'm free.

Yet ever in the far forlorn, by trails of lone desire;
Yet ever in the dawn's white leer of hate;
Yet ever by the dripping kill, beside the drowsy fire,
There comes the fierce heart-hunger for a mate.
There comes the mad blood-clamour for a woman's clinging hand,
Love-humid eyes, the velvet of a breast;
And so I sought the Bonnet-plumes, and chose from out the band
The girl I thought the sweetest and the best.

O wistful women I have loved before my dark disgrace!
O women fair and rare in my home land!
Dear ladies, if I saw you now I'd turn away my face,
Then crawl to kiss your foot-prints in the sand!
And yet -- that day the rifle jammed -- a wounded moose at bay --
A roar, a charge . . . I faced it with my knife:
A shot from out the willow-scrub, and there the monster lay. . . .
Yes, little Laughing Eyes, you saved my life.

The man must have the woman, and we're all brutes more or less,
Since first the male ape shinned the family tree;
And yet I think I love her with a husband's tenderness,
And yet I know that she would die for me.
Oh, if I left you, Laughing Eyes, and nevermore came back,
God help you, girl! I know what you would do. . . .
I see the lake wan in the moon, and from the shadow black,
There drifts a little, EMPTY birch canoe.

We're here beyond the Circle, where there's never wrong nor right;
We aren't spliced according to the law;
But by the gods I hail you on this hushed and holy night
As the mother of my children, and my squaw.
I see your little slender face set in the firelight glow;
I pray that I may never make it sad;
I hear you croon a baby song, all slumber-soft and low --
God bless you, little Laughing Eyes! I'm glad.

Home and Love

Just Home and Love! the words are small
Four little letters unto each;
And yet you will not find in all
The wide and gracious range of speech
Two more so tenderly complete:
When angels talk in Heaven above,
I'm sure they have no words more sweet
Than Home and Love.

Just Home and Love! it's hard to guess
Which of the two were best to gain;
Home without Love is bitterness;
Love without Home is often pain.
No! each alone will seldom do;
Somehow they travel hand and glove:
If you win one you must have two,
Both Home and Love.

And if you've both, well then I'm sure
You ought to sing the whole day long;
It doesn't matter if you're poor
With these to make divine your song.
And so I praisefully repeat,
When angels talk in Heaven above,
There are no words more simply sweet
Than Home and Love.

I'm Scared of it All

I'm scared of it all, God's truth! so I am;
It's too big and brutal for me.
My nerve's on the raw and I don't give a damn
For all the "hoorah" that I see.
I'm pinned between subway and overhead train,
Where automobillies swoop down:
Oh, I want to go back to the timber again --
I'm scared of the terrible town.

I want to go back to my lean, ashen plains;
My rivers that flash into foam;
My ultimate valleys where solitude reigns;
My trail from Fort Churchill to Nome.
My forests packed full of mysterious gloom,
My ice-fields agrind and aglare:
The city is deadfalled with danger and doom --
I know that I'm safer up there.

I watch the wan faces that flash in the street;
All kinds and all classes I see.
Yet never a one in the million I meet,
Has the smile of a comrade for me.
Just jaded and panting like dogs in a pack;
Just tensed and intent on the goal:
O God! but I'm lonesome -- I wish I was back,
Up there in the land of the Pole.

I wish I was back on the Hunger Plateaus,
And seeking the lost caribou;
I wish I was up where the Coppermine flows
To the kick of my little canoe.
I'd like to be far on some weariful shore,
In the Land of the Blizzard and Bear;
Oh, I wish I was snug in the Arctic once more,
For I know I am safer up there!

I prowl in the canyons of dismal unrest;
I cringe -- I'm so weak and so small.
I can't get my bearings, I'm crushed and oppressed
With the haste and the waste of it all.
The slaves and the madman, the lust and the sweat,
The fear in the faces I see;
The getting, the spending, the fever, the fret --
It's too bleeding cruel for me.

I feel it's all wrong, but I can't tell you why --
The palace, the hovel next door;
The insolent towers that sprawl to the sky,
The crush and the rush and the roar.
I'm trapped like a fox and I fear for my pelt;
I cower in the crash and the glare;
Oh, I want to be back in the avalanche belt,
For I know that it's safer up there!

I'm scared of it all: Oh, afar I can hear
The voice of my solitudes call!
We're nothing but brute with a little veneer,
And nature is best after all.
There's tumult and terror abroad in the street;
There's menace and doom in the air;
I've got to get back to my thousand-mile beat;
The trail where the cougar and silver-tip meet;
The snows and the camp-fire, with wolves at my feet;
Good-bye, for it's safer up there.

To be forming good habits up there;
To be starving on rabbits up there;
In your hunger and woe,
Though it's sixty below,
Oh, I know that it's safer up there!

A Song of Success

Ho! we were strong, we were swift, we were brave.
Youth was a challenge, and Life was a fight.
All that was best in us gladly we gave,
Sprang from the rally, and leapt for the height.
Smiling is Love in a foam of Spring flowers:
Harden our hearts to him -- on let us press!
Oh, what a triumph and pride shall be ours!
See where it beacons, the star of success!

Cares seem to crowd on us -- so much to do;
New fields to conquer, and time's on the wing.
Grey hairs are showing, a wrinkle or two;
Somehow our footstep is losing its spring.
Pleasure's forsaken us, Love ceased to smile;
Youth has been funeralled; Age travels fast.
Sometimes we wonder: is it worth while?
There! we have gained to the summit at last.

Aye, we have triumphed! Now must we haste,
Revel in victory . . . why! what is wrong?
Life's choicest vintage is flat to the taste --
Are we too late? Have we laboured too long?
Wealth, power, fame we hold . . . ah! but the truth:
Would we not give this vain glory of ours
For one mad, glad year of glorious youth,
Life in the Springtide, and Love in the flowers.

The Song of the Camp-Fire

I

Heed me, feed me, I am hungry, I am red-tongued with desire;
Boughs of balsam, slabs of cedar, gummy fagots of the pine,
Heap them on me, let me hug them to my eager heart of fire,
Roaring, soaring up to heaven as a symbol and a sign.
Bring me knots of sunny maple, silver birch and tamarack;
Leaping, sweeping, I will lap them with my ardent wings of flame;
I will kindle them to glory, I will beat the darkness back;
Streaming, gleaming, I will goad them to my glory and my fame.
Bring me gnarly limbs of live-oak, aid me in my frenzied fight;
Strips of iron-wood, scaly blue-gum, writhing redly in my hold;
With my lunge of lurid lances, with my whips that flail the night,
They will burgeon into beauty, they will foliate in gold.
Let me star the dim sierras, stab with light the inland seas;
Roaming wind and roaring darkness! seek no mercy at my hands;
I will mock the marly heavens, lamp the purple prairies,
I will flaunt my deathless banners down the far, unhouseled lands.
In the vast and vaulted pine-gloom where the pillared forests frown,
By the sullen, bestial rivers running where God only knows,
On the starlit coral beaches when the combers thunder down,
In the death-spell of the barrens, in the shudder of the snows;
In a blazing belt of triumph from the palm-leaf to the pine,
As a symbol of defiance lo! the wilderness I span;
And my beacons burn exultant as an everlasting sign
Of unending domination, of the mastery of Man;
I, the Life, the fierce Uplifter, I that weaned him from the mire;
I, the angel and the devil, I, the tyrant and the slave;
I, the Spirit of the Struggle; I, the mighty God of Fire;
I, the Maker and Destroyer; I, the Giver and the Grave.

II

Gather round me, boy and grey-beard, frontiersman of every kind.
Few are you, and far and lonely, yet an army forms behind:
By your camp-fires shall they know you, ashes scattered to the wind.

Peer into my heart of solace, break your bannock at my blaze;
Smoking, stretched in lazy shelter, build your castles as you gaze;
Or, it may be, deep in dreaming, think of dim, unhappy days.

Let my warmth and glow caress you, for your trails are grim and hard;
Let my arms of comfort press you, hunger-hewn and battle-scarred:
O my lovers! how I bless you with your lives so madly marred!

For you seek the silent spaces, and their secret lore you glean:
For you win the savage races, and the brutish Wild you wean;
And I gladden desert places, where camp-fire has never been.

From the Pole unto the Tropics is there trail ye have not dared?
And because you hold death lightly, so by death shall you be spared,
(As the sages of the ages in their pages have declared).

On the roaring Arkilinik in a leaky bark canoe;
Up the cloud of Mount McKinley, where the avalanche leaps through;
In the furnace of Death Valley, when the mirage glimmers blue.

Now a smudge of wiry willows on the weary Kuskoquim;
Now a flare of gummy pine-knots where Vancouver's scaur is grim;
Now a gleam of sunny ceiba, when the Cuban beaches dim.

Always, always God's Great Open: lo! I burn with keener light
In the corridors of silence, in the vestibules of night;
'Mid the ferns and grasses gleaming, was there ever gem so bright?

Not for weaklings, not for women, like my brother of the hearth;
Ring your songs of wrath around me, I was made for manful mirth,
In the lusty, gusty greatness, on the bald spots of the earth.

Men, my masters! men, my lovers! ye have fought and ye have bled;
Gather round my ruddy embers, softly glowing is my bed;
By my heart of solace dreaming, rest ye and be comforted!

III

I am dying, O my masters! by my fitful flame ye sleep;
My purple plumes of glory droop forlorn.
Grey ashes choke and cloak me, and above the pines there creep
The stealthy silver moccasins of morn.
There comes a countless army, it's the Legion of the Light;
It tramps in gleaming triumph round the world;
And before its jewelled lances all the shadows of the night
Back in to abysmal darknesses are hurled.

Leap to life again, my lovers! ye must toil and never tire;
The day of daring, doing, brightens clear,
When the bed of spicy cedar and the jovial camp-fire
Must only be a memory of cheer.
There is hope and golden promise in the vast portentous dawn;
There is glamour in the glad, effluent sky:
Go and leave me; I will dream of you and love you when you're gone;
I have served you, O my masters! let me die.

A little heap of ashes, grey and sodden by the rain,
Wind-scattered, blurred and blotted by the snow:
Let that be all to tell of me, and glorious again,
Ye things of greening gladness, leap and glow!
A black scar in the sunshine by the palm-leaf or the pine,
Blind to the night and dead to all desire;
Yet oh, of life and uplift what a symbol and a sign!
Yet oh, of power and conquest what a destiny is mine!
A little heap of ashes -- Yea! a miracle divine,
The foot-print of a god, all-radiant Fire.

Her Letter

"I'm taking pen in hand this night, and hard it is for me;
My poor old fingers tremble so, my hand is stiff and slow,
And even with my glasses on I'm troubled sore to see. . . .
You'd little know your mother, boy; you'd little, little know.
You mind how brisk and bright I was, how straight and trim and smart;
'Tis weariful I am the now, and bent and frail and grey.
I'm waiting at the road's end, lad; and all that's in my heart,
Is just to see my boy again before I'm called away."

"Oh well I mind the sorry day you crossed the gurly sea;
'Twas like the heart was torn from me, a waeful wife was I.
You said that you'd be home again in two years, maybe three;
But nigh a score of years have gone, and still the years go by.
I know it's cruel hard for you, you've bairnies of your own;
I know the siller's hard to win, and folks have used you ill:
But oh, think of your mother, lad, that's waiting by her lone!
And even if you canna come -- JUST WRITE AND SAY YOU WILL."

"Aye, even though there's little hope, just promise that you'll try.
It's weary, weary waiting, lad; just say you'll come next year.
I'm thinking there will be no `next'; I'm thinking soon I'll lie
With all the ones I've laid away . . . but oh, the hope will cheer!
You know you're all that's left to me, and we are seas apart;
But if you'll only SAY you'll come, then will I hope and pray.
I'm waiting by the grave-side, lad; and all that's in my heart
Is just to see my boy again before I'm called away."

The Man Who Knew

The Dreamer visioned Life as it might be,
And from his dream forthright a picture grew,
A painting all the people thronged to see,
And joyed therein -- till came the Man Who Knew,
Saying: "'Tis bad! Why do ye gape, ye fools!
He painteth not according to the schools."

The Dreamer probed Life's mystery of woe,
And in a book he sought to give the clue;
The people read, and saw that it was so,
And read again -- then came the Man Who Knew,
Saying: "Ye witless ones! this book is vile:
It hath not got the rudiments of style."

Love smote the Dreamer's lips, and silver clear
He sang a song so sweet, so tender true,
That all the market-place was thrilled to hear,
And listened rapt -- till came the Man Who Knew,
Saying: "His technique's wrong; he singeth ill.
Waste not your time." The singer's voice was still.

And then the people roused as if from sleep,
Crying: "What care we if it be not Art!
Hath he not charmed us, made us laugh and weep?
Come, let us crown him where he sits apart."
Then, with his picture spurned, his book unread,
His song unsung, they found their Dreamer -- DEAD.

The Logger

In the moonless, misty night, with my little pipe alight,
I am sitting by the camp-fire's fading cheer;
Oh, the dew is falling chill on the dim, deer-haunted hill,
And the breakers in the bay are moaning drear.
The toilful hours are sped, the boys are long abed,
And I alone a weary vigil keep;
In the sightless, sullen sky I can hear the night-hawk cry,
And the frogs in frenzied chorus from the creek.

And somehow the embers' glow brings me back the long ago,
The days of merry laughter and light song;
When I sped the hours away with the gayest of the gay
In the giddy whirl of fashion's festal throng.
Oh, I ran a grilling race and I little recked the pace,
For the lust of youth ran riot in my blood;
But at last I made a stand in this God-forsaken land
Of the pine-tree and the mountain and the flood.

And now I've got to stay, with an overdraft to pay,
For pleasure in the past with future pain;
And I'm not the chap to whine, for if the chance were mine
I know I'd choose the old life once again.
With its woman's eyes a-shine, and its flood of golden wine;
Its fever and its frolic and its fun;
The old life with its din, its laughter and its sin --
And chuck me in the gutter when it's done.

Ah, well! it's past and gone, and the memory is wan,
That conjures up each old familiar face;
And here by fortune hurled, I am dead to all the world,
And I've learned to lose my pride and keep my place.
My ways are hard and rough, and my arms are strong and tough,
And I hew the dizzy pine till darkness falls;
And sometimes I take a dive, just to keep my heart alive,
Among the gay saloons and dancing halls.

In the distant, dinful town just a little drink to drown
The cares that crowd and canker in my brain;
Just a little joy to still set my pulses all a-thrill,
Then back to brutish labour once again.
And things will go on so until one day I shall know
That Death has got me cinched beyond a doubt;
Then I'll crawl away from sight, and morosely in the night
My weary, wasted life will peter out.

Then the boys will gather round, and they'll launch me in the ground,
And pile the stones the timber wolf to foil;
And the moaning pine will wave overhead a nameless grave,
Where the black snake in the sunshine loves to coil.
And they'll leave me there alone, and perhaps with softened tone
Speak of me sometimes in the camp-fire's glow,
As a played-out, broken chum, who has gone to Kingdom Come,
And who went the pace in England long ago.

The Passing of the Year

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
And wait to FEEL the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter's chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
Let us all read, whate'er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right
So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope? O Optimist!
What read you in that withered face?

And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
What see you in the dying year?

And so from face to face I flit,
The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
Old weary year! it's time to go.

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that's true,
For we've been comrades, you and I --
I THANK GOD FOR EACH DAY OF YOU;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

The Ghosts

Smith, great writer of stories, drank; found it immortalised his pen;
Fused in his brain-pan, else a blank, heavens of glory now and then;
Gave him the magical genius touch; God-given power to gouge out, fling
Flat in your face a soul-thought -- Bing!
Twiddle your heart-strings in his clutch.
"Bah!" said Smith, "let my body lie stripped to the buff in swinish shame,
If I can blaze in the radiant sky out of adoring stars my name.
Sober am I nonentitized; drunk am I more than half a god.
Well, let the flesh be sacrificed; spirit shall speak and shame the clod.
Who would not gladly, gladly give Life to do one thing that will live?"

Smith had a friend, we'll call him Brown;
dearer than brothers were those two.
When in the wassail Smith would drown,
Brown would rescue and pull him through.
When Brown was needful Smith would lend; so it fell as the years went by,
Each on the other would depend: then at the last Smith came to die.

There Brown sat in the sick man's room, still as a stone in his despair;
Smith bent on him his eyes of doom, shook back his lion mane of hair;
Said: "Is there one in my chosen line, writer of forthright tales my peer?
Look in that little desk of mine; there is a package, bring it here.
Story of stories, gem of all; essence and triumph, key and clue;
Tale of a loving woman's fall; soul swept hell-ward, and God! it's true.
I was the man -- Oh, yes, I've paid, paid with mighty and mordant pain.
Look! here's the masterpiece I've made out of my sin, my manhood slain.
Art supreme! yet the world would stare, know my mistress and blaze my shame.
I have a wife and daughter -- there! take it and thrust it in the flame."

Brown answered: "Master, you have dipped
pen in your heart, your phrases sear.
Ruthless, unflinching, you have stripped naked your soul and set it here.
Have I not loved you well and true? See! between us the shadows drift;
This bit of blood and tears means You -- oh, let me have it, a parting gift.
Sacred I'll hold it, a trust divine; sacred your honour, her dark despair;
Never shall it see printed line: here, by the living God I swear."
Brown on a Bible laid his hand; Smith, great writer of stories, sighed:
"Comrade, I trust you, and understand. Keep my secret!" And so he died.

Smith was buried -- up soared his sales; lured you his books in every store;
Exquisite, whimsy, heart-wrung tales; men devoured them and craved for more.
So when it slyly got about Brown had a posthumous manuscript,
Jones, the publisher, sought him out, into his pocket deep he dipped.
"A thousand dollars?" Brown shook his head.
"The story is not for sale," he said.

Jones went away, then others came. Tempted and taunted, Brown was true.
Guarded at friendship's shrine the fame
of the unpublished story grew and grew.
It's a long, long lane that has no end,
but some lanes end in the Potter's field;
Smith to Brown had been more than friend: patron, protector, spur and shield.
Poor, loving-wistful, dreamy Brown, long and lean, with a smile askew,
Friendless he wandered up and down, gaunt as a wolf, as hungry too.
Brown with his lilt of saucy rhyme, Brown with his tilt of tender mirth
Garretless in the gloom and grime, singing his glad, mad songs of earth:
So at last with a faith divine, down and down to the Hunger-line.

There as he stood in a woeful plight,
tears a-freeze on his sharp cheek-bones,
Who should chance to behold his plight,
but the publisher, the plethoric Jones;
Peered at him for a little while, held out a bill: "NOW, will you sell?"
Brown scanned it with his twisted smile:
"A thousand dollars! you go to hell!"

Brown enrolled in the homeless host, sleeping anywhere, anywhen;
Suffered, strove, became a ghost, slave of the lamp for other men;
For What's-his-name and So-and-so in the abyss his soul he stripped,
Yet in his want, his worst of woe, held he fast to the manuscript.
Then one day as he chewed his pen, half in hunger and half despair,
Creaked the door of his garret den; Dick, his brother, was standing there.
Down on the pallet bed he sank, ashen his face, his voice a wail:
"Save me, brother! I've robbed the bank; to-morrow it's ruin, capture, gaol.
Yet there's a chance: I could to-day pay back the money, save our name;
You have a manuscript, they say,
worth a thousand -- think, man! the shame. . . ."
Brown with his heart pain-pierced the while,
with his stern, starved face, and his lips stone-pale,
Shuddered and smiled his twisted smile: "Brother, I guess you go to gaol."

While poor Brown in the leer of dawn wrestled with God for the sacred fire,
Came there a woman weak and wan, out of the mob, the murk, the mire;
Frail as a reed, a fellow ghost, weary with woe, with sorrowing;
Two pale souls in the legion lost; lo! Love bent with a tender wing,
Taught them a joy so deep, so true,
it seemed that the whole-world fabric shook,
Thrilled and dissolved in radiant dew; then Brown made him a golden book,
Full of the faith that Life is good, that the earth is a dream divinely fair,
Lauding his gem of womanhood in many a lyric rich and rare;
Took it to Jones, who shook his head: "I will consider it," he said.

While he considered, Brown's wife lay clutched in the tentacles of pain;
Then came the doctor, grave and grey; spoke of decline, of nervous strain;
Hinted Egypt, the South of France -- Brown with terror was tiger-gripped.
Where was the money? What the chance? Pitiful God! . . . the manuscript!
A thousand dollars! his only hope!
he gazed and gazed at the garret wall. . . .
Reached at last for the envelope, turned to his wife and told her all.
Told of his friend, his promise true; told like his very heart would break:
"Oh, my dearest! what shall I do? shall I not sell it for your sake?"
Ghostlike she lay, as still as doom; turned to the wall her weary head;
Icy-cold in the pallid gloom, silent as death . . . at last she said:
"Do! my husband? Keep your vow! Guard his secret and let me die. . . .
Oh, my dear, I must tell you now -- THE WOMAN HE LOVED AND WRONGED WAS I;
Darling! I haven't long to live: I never told you -- forgive, forgive!"

For a long, long time Brown did not speak;
sat bleak-browed in the wretched room;
Slowly a tear stole down his cheek,
and he kissed her hand in the dismal gloom.
To break his oath, to brand her shame;
his well-loved friend, his worshipped wife;
To keep his vow, to save her name, yet at the cost of what? Her life!
A moment's space did he hesitate, a moment of pain and dread and doubt,
Then he broke the seals, and, stern as fate,
unfolded the sheets and spread them out. . . .
On his knees by her side he limply sank,
peering amazed -- EACH PAGE WAS BLANK.

(For oh, the supremest of our art are the stories we do not dare to tell,
Locked in the silence of the heart,
for the awful records of Heav'n and Hell.)

Yet those two in the silence there, seemed less weariful than before.
Hark! a step on the garret stair, a postman knocks at the flimsy door.
"Registered letter!" Brown thrills with fear;
opens, and reads, then bends above:
"Glorious tidings! Egypt, dear! The book is accepted -- life and love."

Good-Bye, Little Cabin

O dear little cabin, I've loved you so long,
And now I must bid you good-bye!
I've filled you with laughter, I've thrilled you with song,
And sometimes I've wished I could cry.
Your walls they have witnessed a weariful fight,
And rung to a won Waterloo:
But oh, in my triumph I'm dreary to-night --
Good-bye, little cabin, to you!

Your roof is bewhiskered, your floor is a-slant,
Your walls seem to sag and to swing;
I'm trying to find just your faults, but I can't --
You poor, tired, heart-broken old thing!
I've seen when you've been the best friend that I had,
Your light like a gem on the snow;
You're sort of a part of me -- Gee! but I'm sad;
I hate, little cabin, to go.

Below your cracked window red raspberries climb;
A hornet's nest hangs from a beam;
Your rafters are scribbled with adage and rhyme,
And dimmed with tobacco and dream.
"Each day has its laugh", and "Don't worry, just work".
Such mottoes reproachfully shine.
Old calendars dangle -- what memories lurk
About you, dear cabin of mine!

I hear the world-call and the clang of the fight;
I hear the hoarse cry of my kind;
Yet well do I know, as I quit you to-night,
It's Youth that I'm leaving behind.
And often I'll think of you, empty and black,
Moose antlers nailed over your door:
Oh, if I should perish my ghost will come back
To dwell in you, cabin, once more!

How cold, still and lonely, how weary you seem!
A last wistful look and I'll go.
Oh, will you remember the lad with his dream!
The lad that you comforted so.
The shadows enfold you, it's drawing to-night;
The evening star needles the sky:
And huh! but it's stinging and stabbing my sight --
God bless you, old cabin, good-bye!

Heart o' the North

And when I come to the dim trail-end,
I who have been Life's rover,
This is all I would ask, my friend,
Over and over and over:

A little space on a stony hill
With never another near me,
Sky o' the North that's vast and still,
With a single star to cheer me;

Star that gleams on a moss-grey stone
Graven by those who love me --
There would I lie alone, alone,
With a single pine above me;

Pine that the north wind whinneys through --
Oh, I have been Life's lover!
But there I'd lie and listen to
Eternity passing over.

The Scribe's Prayer

When from my fumbling hand the tired pen falls,
And in the twilight weary droops my head;
While to my quiet heart a still voice calls,
Calls me to join my kindred of the Dead:
Grant that I may, O Lord, ere rest be mine,
Write to Thy praise one radiant, ringing line.

For all of worth that in this clay abides,
The leaping rapture and the ardent flame,
The hope, the high resolve, the faith that guides:
All, all is Thine, and liveth in Thy name:
Lord, have I dallied with the sacred fire!
Lord, have I trailed Thy glory in the mire!

E'en as a toper from the dram-shop reeling,
Sees in his garret's blackness, dazzling fair,
All that he might have been, and, heart-sick, kneeling,
Sobs in the passion of a vast despair:
So my ideal self haunts me alway --
When the accounting comes, how shall I pay?

For in the dark I grope, nor understand;
And in my heart fight selfishness and sin:
Yet, Lord, I do not seek Thy helping hand;
Rather let me my own salvation win:
Let me through strife and penitential pain
Onward and upward to the heights attain.

Yea, let me live my life, its meaning seek;
Bear myself fitly in the ringing fight;
Strive to be strong that I may aid the weak;
Dare to be true -- O God! the Light, the Light!
Cometh the Dark so soon. I've mocked Thy Word;
Yet do I know Thy Love: have mercy, Lord. . . .

FINIS

Some of Service's Books of Poetry:

The Spell of the Yukon (1907) a.k.a. Songs of a Sourdough
Ballads of a Cheechako (1909)
[Note: A Sourdough is an old-timer, while a Cheechako is a newbie.]
Rhymes of a Rolling Stone (1912)
Rhymes of a Red Cross Man (1916)
Ballads of a Bohemian (1921)
Bar-Room Ballads (1940)
The Complete Poems (1947?) [This is a compilation of the first six books.]
Songs of a Sunlover
Rhymes of a Roughneck
Lyrics of a Low Brow
Rhymes of a Rebel
The Collected Poems
Songs For My Supper (1953)
Rhymes For My Rags (1956)

Some other books by Robert W. Service:

Novels:

The Trail of '98 -- A Northland Romance (1910)
The Pretender
The Poisoned Paradise
The Roughneck
The Master of the Microbe
The House of Fear

Autobiography:

Ploughman of the Moon (1945)
Harper of Heaven (1948)

Miscellaneous:

Why not grow Young

Book of the day: