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Convicts Love Canaries

Dick's dead! It was the Polack guard
Put powdered glass into his cage
When I was tramping round the yard,--
I could have killed him in my rage.
I slugged him with that wrench I stole:
That's why I'm rotting in the Hole.

Dick's dead! Sure I wish I was too.
His honey breast, his lacy claws
I kissed and cried, for well I knew
They murdered him. I cursed because
He was my only chum on earth . . .
Oh how he cheered me with his mirth!

Dick's dead! I know he cared for me.
Being I'm Irish I love song,
And there was heaven in his glee;
I'd bless his heart the dour day long.
I'd let him flutter round the cell;
He'd light upon my hand . . . Oh hell!

Dick's dead! They've thrown me in the Hole.
To break our spirits how they try!
My bed a plank, blind as a mole,
Sure I'll be nuts before I die . . .
Here in the night, dark as the Pit
I'm seeing sunny wings aflit.
Here in the silence, hark his song!
--Poor Dick! Oh Christ, how long, how long!

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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…

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