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Old Trouper

 I was Mojeska's leading man
And famous parts I used to play,
But now I do the best I can
To earn my bread from day to day;
Here in this Burg of Breaking Hears,
Where one wins as a thousand fail,
I play a score of scurvy parts
Till Time writes Finis to my tale.
My wife is dead, my daughter wed, With heaps of trouble of their own; And though I hold aloft my head I'm humble, scared and all alone .
To-night I burn each photograph, Each record of my former fame, And oh, how bitterly I laugh And feed them to the hungry flame! Behold how handsome I was then - What glowing eye, what noble mien; I towered above my fellow men, And proudly strode the painted scene.
Ah, Vanity! What fools are we, With empty ends and foolish aims .
There now, I fling with savage glee My David Garrick to the flames.
"Is this a dagger that I see": Oh, how I used to love that speech; We were old-fashioned - "hams" maybe, Yet we Young Arrogance could teach.
"Out, out brief candle!" There are gone My Lear, my Hamlet and MacBeth; And now by ashes cold and wan I wait my cue, my prompter Death.
This life of ours is just a play; Its end is fashioned from the start; Fate writes each word we have to say, And puppet-like we strut our part.
Once I wore laurels on my brow, But now I wait, a sorry clown, To make my furtive, farewell bow .
Haste Time! Oh, ring the Curtain down.

by Robert William Service
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