Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Poetry of Robert Service

and this work, in particular, I find to be a haunting one..

I've always been fascinated by wild and primitive places, and the solitary souls that call them home, in spite of their harshness and foreboding.
Robert Service must have felt the same way. He was born to in England to Scottish parents, and emigrated to North America in 1894, where he found employment with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. In 1905 he was directed to the Yukon Territory at Whitehorse. Within five years, he had gained fame as the storyteller of the Yukon gold rush. His first book of verse, "Songs of a Sourdough" made his name.
He left the Yukon in 1912 to become a Red Cross worker and war correspondent.. He subsequently settled in France and married a French woman, but he is ultimately best known for his writings of the Yukon..
I'm a bit of a loner myself, and in another life before having family, maybe I could have gone the way of the men Robert Service writes so eloquently of... because I must admit, I sometimes find myself having trouble "fitting in"...

The Men That Don't Fit In

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.

Robert W. Service 1874-1958

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