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The Old General

Robert William Service 1874 – 1958

Little Annabelle to please,
  (Lacking grace, I grant),
Grandpa down on hands and knees
  Plays the elephant.
Annabelle shrieks with delight,
  Bouncing up and down,
On his back and holding tight
  To his dressing gown.

As they roll and bowl along,
  Round and round the room,
There is sunshine and a song
  'Spite December gloom.
Yet we hear not Grandpa's groans,
  Hushed his beard inside,
As his old rheumatic bones
  Ache with every stride.

He has known his golden days,
  Soldiered with the best;
And to prove the people's praise
  Medals bright his breast.
Yet though his renown we chant,
  How we love him well
When he plays the elephant
  Just for Annabelle!

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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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