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Old Ed

Robert William Service 1874 – 1958



Our cowman, old Ed, hadn't much in his head,
And lots of folks though him a witling;
But he wasn't a fool, for he always kept cool,
And his sole recreation was whittling.
When I'd spill him my woes (ifantile, I suppose),
He'd harken and whittle and whittle;
then when I had done, turn his quid and say: "Son,
Ye're a-drownin' yerself in yer spittle."

He's gone to his grave, but the counsel he gave
I've proved in predicaments trying;
When I got in a stew, feeling ever so blue,
My failures and faults magnifying,
I'd think of old Ed as he sniffed and he said:
"Shaw! them things don't mater a tittle.
Ye darned little cuss, why make such a full?
Ye're a-drownin' yerself in yer spittle."

When you're tangled with care till you're up in the air,
And worry and fear have you quaking,
When each tiny trouble seems bigger than double,
Till mountains of mole-hills you're making:
Go easy, my friend, things click in the end,
But maybe 'twill help you a little,
If you take Ed's advise (though it may not sound nice):
Ye're a-drownin' yerself in yer spittle."

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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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    "Old Ed" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 2 Dec. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/32338/old-ed>.

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