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from Ballads of A Bohemian (1921)
Robert Service (1874-1958)

The Rhyme Maker
Robert Service 1874 to 1958.
Robert Service
1874-1958


Theme:  Wine, Women, and Song


Notes:
Robert Service was one of the most successful poets of the 20th Century.  Although maintaining his British citizenship throughout his life, Robert is considered a North American poet.  His most well-known verse deals with the peoples of Alaska and the neighboring Yukon region of Canada, focusing on the “gold rush” days of this region in the late 19th century.  His most successful poems were "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee".

This wine poem is one in a series of poems from Ballads of A Bohemian, with which Service introduces us to his neighbors in the Paris apartment building where he is living.  Room 5 is occupied by a singer.

In the second stanza, the poet referred to is Robert Service himself and the “dauber” is a struggling young artist.
- S. H. Bass  


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Room 5:  The Concert Singer
Robert Service (1874-1958), N. American poet                


I’m one of these haphazard chaps
Who sit in cafes drinking;
A most improper taste, perhaps,
Yet pleasant, to my thinking.
For, oh, I hate discord and strife;
I’m sadly, weakly human;
And I do think the best of life
Is wine and song and woman.

Now, there’s that youngster on my right
Who thinks himself a poet,
And so he toils from morn to night
And vainly hopes to show it;
And there’s that dauber on my left,
Within his chamber shrinking -
He looks like one of hope bereft;
He lives on air, I’m thinking.

But me, I love the things that are,
My heart is always merry;
I laugh and tune my old guitar:
Sing ho! and hey-down-derry.
Oh, let them toil their lives away
To gild a tawdry era,
But I’ll be gay while yet I may:
Sing tira-lira-lira.

I’m sure you know that picture well,
A monk, all else unheeding,
Within a bare and gloomy cell
A musty volume reading;
While through the window you can see
In sunny glade entrancing,
With cap and bells beneath a tree
A jester dancing, dancing.

Which is the fool and which the sage?
I cannot quite discover;
But you may look in learning’s page
And I’ll be laughter’s lover.
For this our life is none too long,
And hearts were made for gladness;
Let virtue lie in joy and song,
The only sin be sadness.

So let me troll a jolly air,
Come what come will to-morrow;
I’ll be no cabotin of care,
No souteneur of sorrow.
Let those who will indulge in strife,
To my most merry thinking,
The true philosophy of life
Is laughing, loving, drinking.


from Ballads of A Bohemian (1921)


Project Gutenberg logoFree E-Books at Project Gutenberg

Free Audio Books at LibriVox.org
by Robert W. Service


ROBERT SERVICE at Amazon:

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