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Picture Dealer

Robert William Service 1874 – 1958

There were twin artists A. and B.
Who painted pictures two,
And hung them in my galley
For everyone to view;
The one exhibited by A.
The name "A Sphere" did bear,
While strangely brother B's display
Was catalogued: "A Square".

Now although A. (and this is queer)
Could squeeze a pretty tube,
The picture that he called a Sphere
Was blocky as a cube;
While B. (though no hint he disclosed
To pull the public leg)
The Square he placidly exposed
Was oval as an egg.

Thought I: To sell these pictures two
I never will be able;
There's only one thing I can do,
That's change around the label.
The rotund one I called a Sphere,
The cornered one a Square . . .
And yet, I thought: It's very queer,
Unbought they linger there.

Then strange as it may well appear,
Derision did I bare,
And blandly dubbed the Square a Sphere
And tabbed the Sphere a Square.
Behold the answer I had found,
For to my glad dismay
The curious came crowding round:
A sold the daubs next day.

Well, maybe A. and B. were right,
Not mugs like you and me,
With something missing in our sight
That only artists see.
So what it is and what it ain't
I'll never more discuss . . .
These guys believe in what they paint,
Or . . . are they spoofing us?

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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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