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Externalism

The Greatest Writer of to-day
(With Maupassant I almost set him)
Said to me in a weary way,
The last occasion that I met him:
"Old chap, this world is more and more
Becoming bourgeois, blasé, blousy:
Thank God I've lived so long before
It got so definitely lousy."

Said I: "Old chap, I don't agree.
Why should one so dispraise the present?
For gainful guys like you and me,
It still can be extremely pleasant.
Have we not Women, Wine and Song -
A gleeful trio to my thinking;
So blithely we can get along
With laughing, loving, eating, drinking."

Said he: "Dear Boy, it may be so,
But I'm fed up with war and worry;
I would escape this world of woe,
Of wrath and wrong, of hate and hurry.
I fain would gain the peace of mind
Of Lamas on Thibetan highlands,
Or maybe sanctuary find
With beach-combers on coral islands."

Said I: "Dear Boy, don't go so far:
Just live a life of simple being;
Forgetting all the ills that are,
Be satisfied with hearing, seeing.
The sense of smell and taste and touch
Can bring you bliss in ample measure:
If only you don't think too much,
Your programme can be packed with pleasure.

"But do not try to probe below
This fairy film of Nature's screening;
Look on it as a surface show,
Without a purpose of a meaning.
Take no account of social strife,
And dread no coming cataclysm:
Let your philosophy of life
Be what I call: EXTERNALISM.

The moon shines down with borrowed light,
So savants say - I do not doubt it.
Suffice its silver trance my sight,
That's all I want to know about it.
A fig for science - 'how' and 'why'
Distract me in my happy dreaming:
Through line and form and colour I
Am all content with outward seeming. . . ."

The Greatest Writer of to-day
(I would have loved to call him Willie),
looked wry at me and went his way -
I think he thought me rather silly.
Maybe I am, but I insist
My point of view will take some beating:
Don't mock this old Externalist -
The pudding's proof is in the eating.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:54 min read
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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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