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Contrast

Robert William Service 1874 – 1958



"Carry your suitcase, Sir?" he said.
I turned away to hide a grin,
For he was shorter by a head
Than I and pitiably thin.
I could have made a pair of him,
So with my load I stoutly legged;
But his tenacity was grim:
"Please let me help you, sir," he begged.

I could not shake the fellow off,
So let him shoulder my valise;
He tottered with a racking cough
That did not give him any peace.
He lagged so limply in my wake
I made him put the burden down,
Saying: "A taxi I will take,"
And grimly gave him half-a-crown.

Poor devil! I am sure he had
Not eaten anything that day;
His eyes so hungrily were glad,
Although his lips were ashen grey.
He vanished in the callous crowd,
Then when he was no more around,
I lugged my bag and thought aloud:
"I wish I'd given him a pound."

And strangely I felt sore ashamed,
As if somehow I had lost face;
And not only myself I blamed
But all the blasted human race;
And all this life of battle where
The poor are beaten to their knees,
And while the weak the burdens bear,
Fat fools like me can stroll at ease.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert William Service

Robert William Service was a poet and writer sometimes referred to as the Bard of the Yukon He is best-known for his writings on the Canadian North including the poems The Shooting of Dan McGrew The Law of the Yukon and The Cremation of Sam McGee His writing was so expressive that his readers took him for a hard-bitten old Klondike prospector not the later-arriving bank clerk he actually was Robert William Service was born 16 January 1874 in Preston England but also lived in Scotland before emigrating to Canada in 1894 Service went to the Yukon Territory in 1904 as a bank clerk and became famous for his poems about this region which are mostly in his first two books of poetry He wrote quite a bit of prose as well and worked as a reporter for some time but those writings are not nearly as well known as his poems He travelled around the world quite a bit and narrowly escaped from France at the beginning of the Second World War during which time he lived in Hollywood California He died 11 September 1958 in France Incidentally he played himself in a movie called The Spoilers starring John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich more…

All Robert William Service poems | Robert William Service Books

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