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Best Famous Robert William Service Poems

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by Robert William Service | |

The Comforter

 As I sat by my baby's bed
That's open to the sky,
There fluttered round and round my head
A radiant butterfly.
And as I wept -- of hearts that ache The saddest in the land -- It left a lily for my sake, And lighted on my hand.
I watched it, oh, so quietly, And though it rose and flew, As if it fain would comfort me It came and came anew.
Now, where my darling lies at rest, I do not dare to sigh, For look! there gleams upon my breast A snow-white butterfly.


by Robert William Service | |

The Score

 I asked a silver sage
 With race nigh run:
'Tell me in old of age
 Your wisdom won?'
Said he: 'From fret and strife
 And vain vexation,
The all I've learned from life
 Is--Resignation.
' I asked a Bard who thrummed A harp clay-cold: 'How is your story summed Now you are old?' Though golden voice was his, And fame had he, He sighed: 'The finish is --Futility.
' I'm old; I have no wealth Toil to reward; Yet for the boon of health I thank the Lord.
While Beauty I can see, To live is good; And so life's crown to me Is--Gratitude


by Robert William Service | |

The Visionary

 If fortune had not granted me
 To suck the Muse's teats,
I think I would have liked to be
 A sweeper of the streets;
And city gutters glad to groom,
 Have heft a bonny broom.
There--as amid the crass and crush The limousines swished by, I would have leaned upon my brush With visionary eye: Deeming despite their loud allure That I was rich, they poor.
Aye, though in garb terrestrial, To Heaven I would pray, And dream with broom celestial I swept the Milky Way; And golden chariots would ring, And harps of Heaven sing.
And all the strumpets passing me, And heelers of the Ward Would glorified Madonnas be, And angels of the Lord; And all the brats in gutters grim Be rosy cherubim.


More great poems below...

by Robert William Service | |

A Bachelor

 'Why keep a cow when I can buy,'
 Said he, 'the milk I need,'
I wanted to spit in his eye
 Of selfishness and greed;
But did not, for the reason he
 Was stronger than I be.
I told him: ''Tis our human fate, For better or for worse, That man and maid should love and mate, And little children nurse.
Of course, if you are less than man You can't do what we can.
'So many loving maids would wed, And wondrous mothers be.
' 'I'll buy the love I want,' he said, 'No squally brats for me.
' .
.
.
I hope the devil stoketh well For him a special hell.


by Robert William Service | |

The Receptionist

 France is the fairest land on earth,
 Lovely to heart's desire,
And twice a year I span its girth,
 Its beauty to admire.
But when a pub I seek each night, To my profound vexation On form they hand me I've to write My occupation.
So once in a derisive mood My pen I nibbled; And though I know I never should: 'Gangster' I scribbled.
But as the clerk with startled face Looked stark suspicion, I blurred it out and in its place Put 'Politician.
' Then suddenly dissolved his frown; His face fused to a grin, As humorously he set down The form I handed in.
His shrug was eloquent to view.
Quoth he: 'What's in a name? In France, alas! the lousy two Are just the same.
'


by Robert William Service | |

Birthdays

 Let us have birthdays every day,
(I had the thought while I was shaving)
Because a birthday should be gay,
And full of grace and good behaving.
We can't have cakes and candles bright, And presents are beyond our giving, But let lt us cherish with delight The birthday way of lovely living.
For I have passed three-score and ten And I can count upon my fingers The years I hope to bide with men, (Though by God's grace one often lingers.
) So in the summers left to me, Because I'm blest beyond my merit, I hope with gratitude and glee To sparkle with the birthday spirit.
Let me inform myself each day Who's proudmost on the natal roster; If Washington or Henry Clay, Or Eugene Field or Stephen Foster.
oh lots of famous folks I'll find Who more than measure to my rating, And so thanksgivingly inclined Their birthdays I'll be celebrating.
For Oh I know the cheery glow| Of Anniversary rejoicing; Let me reflect its radiance so My daily gladness I'll be voicing.
And though I'm stooped and silver-haired, Let me with laughter make the hearth gay, So by the gods I may be spared Each year to hear: "Pop, Happy Birthday.
"


by Robert William Service | |

If You Had A Friend

 If you had a friend strong, simple, true,
Who knew your faults and who understood;
Who believed in the very best of you,
And who cared for you as a father would;
Who would stick by you to the very end,
Who would smile however the world might frown:
I'm sure you would try to please your friend,
You never would think to throw him down.
And supposing your friend was high and great, And he lived in a palace rich and tall, And sat like a King in shining state, And his praise was loud on the lips of all; Well then, when he turned to you alone, And he singled you out from all the crowd, And he called you up to his golden throne, Oh, wouldn't you just be jolly proud? If you had a friend like this, I say, So sweet and tender, so strong and true, You'd try to please him in every way, You'd live at your bravest -- now, wouldn't you? His worth would shine in the words you penned; You'd shout his praises .
.
.
yet now it's odd! You tell me you haven't got such a friend; You haven't? I wonder .
.
.
What of God?


by Robert William Service | |

I Have Some Friends

 I have some friends, some worthy friends,
And worthy friends are rare:
These carpet slippers on my feet,
That padded leather chair;
This old and shabby dressing-gown,
So well the worse of wear.
I have some friends, some honest friends, And honest friends are few; My pipe of briar, my open fire, A book that's not too new; My bed so warm, the nights of storm I love to listen to.
I have some friends, some good, good friends, Who faithful are to me: My wrestling partner when I rise, The big and burly sea; My little boat that's riding there So saucy and so free.
I have some friends, some golden friends, Whose worth will not decline: A tawny Irish terrier, a purple shading pine, A little red-roofed cottage that So proudly I call mine.
All other friends may come and go, All other friendships fail; But these, the friends I've worked to win, Oh, they will never stale; And comfort me till Time shall write The finish to my tale.


by Robert William Service | |

Rhyme Builder

 I envy not those gay galoots
Who count on dying in their boots;
For that, to tell the sober truth
Sould be the privilege of youth;
But aged bones are better sped
To heaven from a downy bed.
So prop me up with pillows two, And serve me with the barley brew; And put a pencil in my hand, A copy book at my command; And let my final effort be To ring a rhyme of homely glee.
For since I've loved it oh so long, Let my last labour be in song; And when my pencil falters down, Oh may a final couplet crown The years of striving I have made To justify the jinglers trade.
Let me surrender with a rhyme My long and lovely lease of time; Let me be grateful for the gift To couple words in lyric lift; Let me song-build with humble hod, My last brick dedicate to God.


by Robert William Service | |

Divine Device

 Would it be loss or gain
To hapless human-kind
If we could feel no pain
Of body or of mind?
Would it be for our good
If we were calloused so,
And God in mercy should
End all our woe?

I wonder and I doubt:
It is my bright belief
We should be poor without
The gift of grief.
For suffering may be A blessing, not a bane, And though we sorrow we Should praise for Pain.
Aye, it's my brave belief That grateful we should be, Since in the heart of grief Is love and sympathy, We do not weep in vain, So let us kiss the rod, And see in purging Pain The Grace of God.


by Robert William Service | |

Segregation

 I stood beside the silken rope,
 Five dollars in my hand,
And waited in my patient hope
 To sit anear the Band,
And hear the famous Louie play
 The best hot trumpet of today.
And then a waiter loafing near Says in a nasty tone: "Old coon, we don't want darkies here, Beat it before you're thrown.
" So knowin' nothin' I could do I turned to go and--there was Lou.
I think he slapped that Dago's face; His voice was big an' loud; An' then he leads me from my place Through all that tony crowd.
World-famous Louie by the hand Took me to meet his famous Band.
"Listen, you folks," I heard him say.
"Here's Grand-papa what's come.
Savin' he teached me how to play, I mighta been a bum.
Come on, Grand-pop, git up an' show How you kin trumpet Ol' Black Joe.
" Tremblin' I played before his Band: You should have heard the cheers.
Them swell folks gave me such a hand My cheeks was wet wi' tears .
.
.
An' now I'm off to tell the wife The proudest night o' all ma life.


by Robert William Service | |

A Lyric Day

 I deem that there are lyric days
So ripe with radiance and cheer,
So rich with gratitude and praise
That they enrapture all the year.
And if there is a God babove, (As they would tell me in the Kirk,) How he must look with pride and love Upon his perfect handiwork! To-day has been a lyric day I hope I shall remember long, Of meadow dance and roundelay, Of woodland glee, of glow and song.
Such joy I saw in maidens eyes, In mother gaze such tender bliss .
.
.
How earth would rival paradise If every day could be like this! Why die, say I? Let us live on In lyric world of song and shine, With ecstasy from dawn to dawn, Until we greet the dawn Devine.
For I believe, with star and sun, With peak and plain, with sea and sod, Inextricably we are one, Bound in the Wholeness - God.


by Robert William Service | |

Inspiration

 How often have I started out
With no thought in my noodle,
And wandered here and there about,
Where fancy bade me toddle;
Till feeling faunlike in my glee
I've voiced some gay distiches,
Returning joyfully to tea,
A poem in my britches.
A-squatting on a thymy slope With vast of sky about me, I've scribbled on an envelope The rhymes the hills would shout me; The couplets that the trees would call, The lays the breezes proffered .
.
.
Oh no, I didn't think at all - I took what Nature offered.
For that's the way you ought to write - Without a trace of trouble; Be super-charged with high delight And let the words out-bubble; Be voice of vale and wood and stream Without design or proem: Then rouse from out a golden dream To find you've made a poem.
So I'll go forth with mind a blank, And sea and sky will spell me; And lolling on a thymy bank I'll take down what they tell me; As Mother Nature speaks to me Her words I'll gaily docket, So I'll come singing home to tea A poem in my pocket.


by Robert William Service | |

Hate

 I had a bitter enemy,
His heart to hate he gave,
And when I died he swore that he
Would dance upon my grave;
That he would leap and laugh because
A livid corpse was I,
And that's the reason why I was
In no great haste to die.
And then - such is the quirk of fate, One day with joy I read, Despite his vitalizing hate My enemy was dead.
Maybe the poison in his heart Had helped to haste his doom: He was not spared till I depart To spit upon my tomb.
The other day I chanced to go To where he lies alone.
'Tis easy to forgive a foe When he is dead and gone.
.
.
.
Poor devil! Now his day is done, (Though bright it was and brave,) Yet I am happy there is none To dance upon my grave.


by Robert William Service | |

Birthday

 (16th January 1949)

I thank whatever gods may be
For all the happiness that's mine;
That I am festive, fit and free
To savour women, wit and wine;
That I may game of golf enjoy,
And have a formidable drive:
In short, that I'm a gay old boy
Though I be
 Seventy-and-five.
My daughter thinks.
because I'm old (I'm not a crock, when all is said), I mustn't let my feet get cold, And should wear woollen socks in bed; A worsted night-cap too, forsooth! To humour her I won't contrive: A man is in his second youth When he is Seventy-and-five.
At four-score years old age begins, And not till then, I warn my wife; At eighty I'll recant my sins, And live a staid and sober life.
But meantime let me whoop it up, And tell the world that I'm alive: Fill to the brim the bubbly cup - Here's health to Seventy-and-five!


by Robert William Service | |

Your Poem

 My poem may be yours indeed
In melody and tone,
If in its rhythm you can read
A music of your own;
If in its pale woof you can weave
Your lovelier design,
'Twill make my lyric, I believe,
 More yours than mine.
I'm but a prompter at the best; Crude cues are all I give.
In simple stanzas I suggest - 'Tis you who make them live.
My bit of rhyme is but a frame, And if my lines you quote, I think, although they bear my name, 'Tis you who wrote.
Yours is the beauty that you see In any words I sing; The magic and the melody 'Tis you, dear friend, who bring.
Yea, by the glory and the gleam, The loveliness that lures Your thought to starry heights of dream, The poem's yours.


by Robert William Service | |

Courage

 In the shadow of the grave
 I will be brave;
I'll smile,--I know I will
 E'er I be still;
Because I will not smile
 So long a while.
But I'll be sad, I fear, And shed a tear, For those I love and leave My loss to grieve: 'Tis just their grief I'll grieve, Believe, believe.
Not for myself I care As forth I fare; But for those left behind Wae is my mind Knowing how they will miss My careless kiss.
Oh I'll be brave when I Shall come to die; With courage I will quaff The Cup and laugh, Aye, even mock at Death With failing breath.
It is not those who go Who suffer woe; But stricken ones who bide By cold bedside: God comfort you who keep Watch by my sleep!


by Robert William Service | |

The Mother

 Your children grow from you apart,
 Afar and still afar;
And yet it should rejoice your heart
 To see how glad they are;
In school and sport, in work and play,
 And last, in wedded bliss
How others claim with joy to-day
 The lips you used to kiss.
Your children distant will become, And wide the gulf will grow; The lips of loving will be dumb, The trust you used to know Will in another's heart repose, Another's voice will cheer .
.
.
And you will fondle baby clothes And brush away a tear.
But though you are estranged almost, And often lost to view, How you will see a little ghost Who ran to cling to you! Yet maybe children's children will Caress you with a smile .
.
.
Grandmother love will bless you still,-- Well, just a little while.


by Robert William Service | |

Canine Conversation

 If dogs could speak, O Mademoiselle,
What funny stories they could tell!
For instance, take your little "peke,"
How awkward if the dear could speak!
How sad for you and all of us,
Who round you flutter, flirt and fuss;
Folks think you modest, mild and meek .
.
.
But would they - if Fi-Fi could speak? If dogs could tell, Ah Madame Rose, What secrets could they not disclose! If your pet poodle Angeline Could hint at half of what she's seen, Your reputation would, I fear, As absolutely disappear As would a snowball dropped in hell .
.
.
If Angeline could only tell.
If dogs could speak, how dangerous It would be for a lot of us! At what they see and what they hear They wink an eye and wag an ear.
How fortunate for old and young The darlings have a silent tongue! We love them, but it's just as well For all of us that - dogs can't tell.


by Robert William Service | |

Mud

 Mud is Beauty in the making,
Mud is melody awaking;
Laughter, leafy whisperings,
Butterflies with rainbow wings;
Baby babble, lover's sighs,
Bobolink in lucent skies;
Ardours of heroic blood
All stem back to Matrix Mud.
Mud is mankind in the moulding, Heaven's mystery unfolding; Miracles of mighty men, Raphael's brush and Shakespear's pen; Sculpture, music, all we owe Mozart, Michael Angelo; Wonder, worship, dreaming spire, Issue out of primal mire.
In the raw, red womb of Time Man evolved from cosmic slime; And our thaumaturgic day Had its source in ooze and clay .
.
.
But I have not power to see Such stupendous alchemy: And in star-bright lily bud Lo! I worship Mother Mud.


by Robert William Service | |

Grandad

 Heaven's mighty sweet, I guess;
Ain't no rush to git there:
Been a sinner, more or less;
Maybe wouldn't fit there.
Wicked still, bound to confess; Might jest pine a bit there.
Heaven's swell, the preachers say: Got so used to earth here; Had such good times all the way, Frolic, fun and mirth here; Eighty Springs ago to-day, Since I had my birth here.
Quite a spell of happy years.
Wish I could begin it; Cloud and sunshine, laughter, tears, Livin' every minute.
Women, too, the pretty dears; Plenty of 'em in it.
Heaven! that's another tale.
Mightn't let me chew there.
Gotta have me pot of ale; Would I like the brew there? Maybe I'd get slack and stale - No more chores to do there.
Here I weed the garden plot, Scare the crows from pillage; Simmer in the sun a lot, Talk about the tillage.
Yarn of battles I have fought, Greybeard of the village.
Heaven's mighty fine, I know .
.
.
.
Still, it ain't so bad here.
See them maples all aglow; Starlings seem so glad here: I'll be mighty peeved to go, Scrumptious times I've had here.
Lord, I know You'll understand.
With Your Light You'll lead me.
Though I'm not the pious brand, I'm here when You need me.
Gosh! I know that HEAVEN'S GRAND, But dang it! God, don't speed me.


by Robert William Service | |

Growing Old

 Somehow the skies don't seem so blue
 As they used to be;
Blossoms have a fainter hue,
 Grass less green I see.
There's no twinkle in a star, Dawns don't seem so gold .
.
.
Yet, of course, I know they are: Guess I'm growing old.
Somehow sunshine seems less bright, Birds less gladly sing; Moons don't thrill me with delight, There's no kick in Spring.
Hills are steeper now and I'm Sensitive to cold; Lines are not so keen to rhyme .
.
.
Gosh! I'm growing old.
Yet in spite of failing things I've no cause to grieve; Age with all its ailing brings Blessings, I believe: Kindo' gentles up the mind As the hope we hold That with loving we will find Friendliness in human kind, Grace in growing old.


by Robert William Service | |

My Brothers

 While I make rhymes my brother John
Makes shiny shoes which dames try on,
And finding to their fit and stance
They buy and wear with elegance;
But mine is quite another tale,--
 For song there is no sale.
My brother Tom a tailor shop Is owner of, and ladies stop To try the models he has planned, And richly pay, I understand: Yet not even a dingy dime Can I make with my rhyme.
My brother Jim sells stuff to eat Like trotters, tripe and sausage meat.
I dare not by his window stop, Lest he should offer me a chop; For though a starving bard I be, To hell, say I, with charity! My brothers all are proud of purse, But though my poverty I curse, I would not for a diadem Exchange my lowly lot with them: A garret and a crust for me, And reams and dreams of Poetry.


by Robert William Service | |

Anti-Profanity

 I do not swear because I am
A sweet and sober guy;
I cannot vent a single damn
However hard I try.
And in viruperative way, Though I recall it well, I never, never, never say A naughty word like hell.
To rouse my wrath you need not try, I'm milder than a lamb; However you may rile me I Refuse to say: Goddam! In circumstances fury-fraught My tongue is always civil, And though you goad me I will not Consign you to the divvle.
An no, I never, never swear; Profanity don't pay; To cuss won't get you anywhere, (And neither will to pray.
) And so all blasphemy I stem.
When milk of kindness curds: But though I never utter them - Gosh! how I know the words.


by Robert William Service | |

My Future

 "Let's make him a sailor," said Father,
"And he will adventure the sea.
" "A soldier," said Mother, "is rather What I would prefer him to be.
" "A lawyer," said Father, "would please me, For then he could draw up my will.
" "A doctor," said Mother, "would ease me; Maybe he could give me a pill.
" Said Father: "Lt's make him a curate, A Bishop in gaiters to be.
" Said Mother: "I couldn't endure it To have Willie preaching to me.
" Said Father: ""Let him be a poet; So often he's gathering wool.
" Said Mother with temper: "Oh stow it! You know it, a poet's a fool.
" Said Farther: "Your son is a duffer, A stupid and mischievous elf.
" Said Mother, who's rather a huffer: "That's right - he takes after yourself.
" Controlling parental emotion They turned to me, seeking a cue, And sudden conceived the bright notion To ask what I wanted to do.
Said I: "my ambition is modest: A clown in a circus I'd be, And turn somersaults in the sawdust With audience laughing at me.
" .
.
.
Poor parents! they're dead and decaying, But I am a clown as you see; And though in no circus I'm playing, How people are laughing at me!