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SERVICE, Robert W.

A Hero

Three times I had the lust to kill,
To clutch a throat so young and fair,
And squeeze with all my might until
No breath of being lingered there.
Three times I drove the demon out,
Though on my brow was evil sweat. . . .
And yet I know beyond a doubt
He'll get me yet, he'll get me yet.

I know I'm mad, I ought to tell
The doctors, let them care for me,
Confine me in a padded cell
And never, never set me free;
But Oh how cruel that would be!
For I am young - and comely too . . .
Yet dim my demon I can see,
And there is but one thing to do.

Three times I beat the foul fiend back;
The fourth, I know he will prevail,
And so I'll seek the railway track
And lay my head upon the rail,
And sight the dark and distant train,
And hear its thunder louder roll,
Coming to crush my cursed brain . . .
Oh God, have mercy on my soul!

Just Think!

Just think! some night the stars will gleam

   Upon a cold, grey stone,

And trace a name with silver beam,

   And lo! ’twill be your own.

That night is speeding on to greet

   Your epitaphic rhyme.

Your life is but a little beat

   Within the heart of Time.

A little gain, a little pain,

   A laugh, lest you may moan;

A little blame, a little fame,

   A star-gleam on a stone.

The Call of the Wild

They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,

They have soaked you in convention through and through;

They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching --

But can't you hear the Wild? -- it's calling you.

Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;

Let us journey to a lonely land I know.

There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,

And the Wild is calling, calling … let us go.

The Land God Forgot

The lonely sunsets flare forlorn

Down valleys dreadly desolate;

The lordly mountains soar in scorn

As still as death, as stern as fate.

The lonely sunsets flame and die;

The giant valleys gulp the night;

The monster mountains scrape the sky,

Where eager stars are diamond-bright.

So gaunt against the gibbous moon,

Piercing the silence velvet-piled,

A lone wolf howls his ancient rune --

The fell arch-spirit of the Wild.

O outcast land! O leper land!

Let the lone wolf-cry all express

The hate insensate of thy hand,

Thy heart's abysmal loneliness.


If you're up against a bruiser and you're getting knocked about --
If you're feeling pretty groggy, and you're licked beyond a doubt --
Don't let him see you're funking, let him know with every clout,
Though your face is battered to a pulp, your blooming heart is stout;
Just stand upon your pins until the beggar knocks you out --
                                        And grin.
This life's a bally battle, and the same advice holds true
                                        Of grin.
If you're up against it badly, then it's only one on you,
                                        So grin.
If the future's black as thunder, don't let people see you're blue;
Just cultivate a cast-iron smile of joy the whole day through;
If they call you "Little Sunshine",
 wish that they'd no troubles, too --
                                        You may -- grin.
Rise up in the morning with the will that, smooth or rough,
                                        You'll grin.
Sink to sleep at midnight, and although you're feeling tough,
                                        Yet grin.
There's nothing gained by whining, and you're not that kind of stuff;
You're a fighter from away back, and you won't take a rebuff;
Your trouble is that you don't know when you have had enough --
                                        Don't give in.
If Fate should down you, just get up and take another cuff;
You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like bluff,
                                        And grin.

The Spell of the Yukon

I wanted the gold, and I sought it,

I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.

Was it famine or scurvy -- I fought it;

I hurled my youth into a grave.

I wanted the gold, and I got it --

Came out with a fortune last fall, --

Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,

And somehow the gold isn't all.

No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)

It's the cussedest land that I know,

From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it

To the deep, deathlike valleys below.

Some say God was tired when He made it;

Some say it's a fine land to shun;

Maybe; but there's some as would trade it

For no land on earth -- and I'm one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason);

You feel like an exile at first;

You hate it like hell for a season,

And then you are worse than the worst.

It grips you like some kinds of sinning;

It twists you from foe to a friend;

It seems it's been since the beginning;

It seems it will be to the end.

I've stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow

That's plumb-full of hush to the brim;

I've watched the big, husky sun wallow

In crimson and gold, and grow dim,

Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,

And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;

And I've thought that I surely was dreaming,

With the peace o' the world piled on top.

The summer -- no sweeter was ever;

The sunshiny woods all athrill;

The grayling aleap in the river,

The bighorn asleep on the hill.

The strong life that never knows harness;

The wilds where the caribou call;

The freshness, the freedom, the farness --

O God! how I'm stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,

The white land locked tight as a drum,

The cold fear that follows and finds you,

The silence that bludgeons you dumb.

The snows that are older than history,

The woods where the weird shadows slant;

The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,

I've bade 'em good-by -- but I can't.

There's a land where the mountains are nameless,

And the rivers all run God knows where;

There are lives that are erring and aimless,

And deaths that just hang by a hair;

There are hardships that nobody reckons;

There are valleys unpeopled and still;

There's a land -- oh, it beckons and beckons,

And I want to go back -- and I will.

They're making my money diminish;

I'm sick of the taste of champagne.

Thank God! when I'm skinned to a finish

I'll pike to the Yukon again.

I'll fight -- and you bet it's no sham-fight;

It's hell! -- but I've been there before;

And it's better than this by a damsite --

So me for the Yukon once more.

There's gold, and it's haunting and haunting;

It's luring me on as of old;

Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting

So much as just finding the gold.

It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,

It's the forests where silence has lease;

It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,

It's the stillness that fills me with peace.