Service, Robert W.

Canada/England, (1874-1958)

The Junior God

  1. The Junior God looked from his place
  2. In the conning towers of heaven,
  3. And he saw the world through the span of space
  4. Like a giant golf-ball driven.
  5. And because he was bored, as some gods are,
  6. With high celestial mirth,
  7. He clutched the reins of a shooting star,
  8. And he steered it down to earth.
  9.  
  10. The Junior God, ‘mid leaf and bud,
  11. Passed on with a weary air,
  12. Till lo! he came to a pool of mud,
  13. And some hogs were rolling there.
  14. Then in he plunged with gleeful cries,
  15. And down he lay supine;
  16. For they had no mud in paradise,
  17. And they likewise had no swine.
  18.  
  19. The Junior God forgot himself;
  20. He squelched mud through his toes;
  21. With the careless joy of a wanton boy
  22. His reckless laughter rose.
  23. Till, tired at last, in a brook close by,
  24. He washed off every stain;
  25. Then softly up to the radiant sky
  26. He rose, a god again.
  27.  
  28. The Junior God now heads the roll
  29. In the list of heaven’s peers;
  30. He sits in the House of High Control,
  31. And he regulates the spheres.
  32. Yet does he wonder, do you suppose,
  33. If, even in gods divine,
  34. The best and wisest may not be those
  35. Who have wallowed awhile with the swine?

The Argument

  1. Said Jock McBrown to Tam McSmith,
  2. “A little bet I’m game to take on,
  3. That I can scotch this Shakespeare myth
  4. And prove Will just a stoodge for Bacon.”
  5.  
  6. Said Tam McSmith to Jock McBrown,
  7. “Ye gyke, I canna let ye rave on.
  8. See here, I put a shilling down:
  9. My betting’s on the Bard of Avon.”
  10.  
  11. Said Jock McBrown to Tam McSmith,
  12. “Come on, ye’ll pay a braw wee dramlet;
  13. Bacon’s my bet — the proof herewith…
  14. He called his greatest hero — HAMlet.”

Ruins

  1. Ruins in Rome are four a penny,
  2. And here along the Appian Way
  3. I see the monuments of many
  4. Esteemed almighty in their day. . . .
  5. Or so he makes me understand —
  6. My glib guide of the rubber bus,
  7. And tells me with a gesture grand:
  8. “Behold! the tomb of Romulus.”
  9.  
  10. Whereat I stared with eyes of awe,
  11. And yet a whit dismayed was I,
  12. When on its crumbling wall I saw
  13. A washing hanging out to dry;
  14. Yea, that relict of slow decay,
  15. With peristyle and gnarly frieze,
  16. Was garnished with a daft display
  17. Of bifurcation and chemise.
  18.  
  19. But as we went our Southward way
  20. Another ruin soon I saw;
  21. No antique tower, gaunt and grey,
  22. But modern manor rubbled raw;
  23. And on its sill a maiden sat,
  24. And told me in a tone of rue:
  25. It was your allied bombs did that . . .
  26. But do not think we’re blaming you.”
  27.  
  28. Thought I: Time is more kind than we
  29. Who blot out beauty with a blow;
  30. And truly it was sad to see
  31. A gracious mansion levelled low . . .
  32. While moulderings of ancient Rome
  33. Still serve the peasants for their swine,
  34. We do not leave a lovely home
  35. A wall to hang a washing line.

Robert Service. More Collected Verse. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. (1953).

Eateries

  1. I went into a Hashery:
  2. “Poached eggs on toast,” said I;
  3. “Please let the hen-fruit new-laid be,
  4. And let the toast be dry.”
  5. The waitress looked at me laughed,
  6. As to the cook I heard her bawl:
  7. “Two on a raft.”
  8.  
  9. I went into a Steakery:
  10. “A sirloin grilled,” I said;
  11. “Please let the outside browny be,
  12. And let the in be red.
  13. Let it be thick, with fat a streak,
  14. And with fried onions covered.” . . .
  15. And then I heard that beldame shriek:
  16. “A teebone smothered.”
  17.  
  18. I went into a Beanery,
  19. For I was low on means,
  20. And of the wench who waited me
  21. I ordered: “Pork and beans.”
  22. Yet through me still a horride thrill
  23. Of disapproval runs,
  24. Remembering that maiden’s shrill:
  25. “Pig and the noisy ones.”

© Robert W. Service. Rhymes of a Rebel. New York: Dodd, Mead (1952).

About the Poet

Robert W. Service, (1874-1958), was a Canadian poet who was born in Preston, Lancashire, England of Scottish parents. He spent his childhood in Scotland, educated at the University of Glasgow, and emigrated to Canada in 1894.

While working for the Canadian Bank of Commerce he was stationed for eight years in Whitehorse, Yukon. Service was a correspondent for the Toronto Star during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 and an ambulance driver and correspondent in France during World War I.

Service settled in France after WWI and returned to Canada during WWII. His vagabond career took him throughout the world, with a diversity of jobs from cook to clerk, from correspondent to hobo. He wrote two autobiographical works, Ploughman of the Moon (1945) and Harper of Heaven (1948) and six novels, including The Trail of ’98 (1912) about the Klondike Gold Rush, and more than 45 verse collections containing over 1,000 poems. [DES-6/03]

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