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God's Warrior

Robert Service Poems

Fortitude
Robert Service

Time, the Jester, jeers at you;
Your life's a fleeting breath;
Your birthday's flimsy I.O.U.
To that old devil, Death.
And though to glory you attain,
Or be to beauty born,
Your pomp and vanity are vain:
Time ticks you off with scorn.

Time, the Cynic, sneers at you,
And stays you in your stride;
He flouts the daring deeds you do,
And pillories your pride.
The triumph of your yesterday
He pages with the Past;
He taunts you with the grave's decay
And calls the score at last.

All this I now, yet what care I!
Despite his dusty word,
I hold my tattered banner high,
And swing my broken sword.
In blackest night I glimpse a gleam,
And nurse a faith sublime,
To do, to dare, to hope, to dream,
to fight you, Foeman Time;
Yea, in the dark, a deathless beam
To smite you, Tyrant Time.
God's Warrior

Brave New World
Robert Service

One spoke: "Come, let us gaily go
With laughter, love and lust,
Since in a century or so
We'll all be boneyard dust.
When unborn shadows hold the screen,
(Our betters, I'll allow)
'Twill be as if we'd never been,
A hundred years from now.

When we have played life's lively game
Right royally we'll rot,
And not a soul will care a damn
The why or how we fought;
To grub for gold or grab for fame
Or raise a holy row,
It will be all the bloody same
A hundred years from now."

Said I: "Look! I have built a tower
Upon you lonely hill,
Designed to be a daughter's dower,
Yet when my heart is still,
The stone I set with horny hand
And salty sweat of brow,
A record of my strength will sand
A hundred years from now.

"There's nothing lost and nothing vain
In all this world so wide;
The ocean hoards each drop of rain
To swell its sweeping tide;
The desert seeks each grain of sand
It's empire to endow,
And we a bright brave world have planned
A hundred years from now.

And all we are and all we do
Will bring that world to be;
Our strain and pain let us not rue,
Though other eyes shall see;
For other hearts will bravely beat
And lips will sing of how
We strove to make life sane and sweet
A hundred years from now.
God's Warrior

Failure
Robert Service

He wrote a play; by day and night
He strove with passion and delight;
Yet knew, long ere the curtain drop,
His drama was a sorry flop.

In Parliament he sought a seat;
Election Day brought dire defeat;
Yet he had wooed with word and pen
Prodigiously his fellow men.

And then he wrote a lighter play
That made him famous in a day.
He won a seat in Parliament,
And starry was the way he went.

Yet as he neared the door of death
They heard him say with broken breath:
'For all I've spoken, planned and penned,
I'm just a wash-out in the end.'

So are we all; our triumphs won
Are mean by what we might have done.
Our victories that men applaud
Are sordid in the sight of God.
God's Warrior

A Busy Man
Robert Service

This crowded life of God's good giving
No man has relished more than I;
I've been so goldarned busy living
I've never had the time to die.
So busy fishing, hunting, roving,
Up on my toes and fighting fit;
So busy singing, laughing, loving,
I've never had the time to quit.

I've never been one for thinking
I've always been the action guy;
I've done my share of feasting, drinking,
And lots of wenching on the sly.
What all the blasted cosmic show meant,
I've never tried to understand;
I've always lived just for the moment,
And done the thing that came to hand.

And now I'll toddle to the garden
And light a good old Henry Clay.
I'm ninety odd, so Lord, please pardon
My frequent lapses by the way.
I'm getting tired; the sunset lingers;
The evening star serenes the sky;
The damn cigar burns to my fingers . . .
I guess . . . I'll take . . . time off . . . to die.
God's Warrior

A Cabbage Patch
Robert Service

Folk ask if I'm alive,
Most think I'm not;
Yet gaily I contrive
To till my plot.
The world its way can go,
I little heed,
So long as I can grow
The grub I need.

For though long overdue,
The years to me,
Have taught a lesson true,
--Humility.
Such better men than I
I've seen pass on;
Their pay-off when they die;
--Oblivion.

And so I mock at fame,
With books unread;
No monument I claim
When I am dead;
Contented as I see
My cottage thatch
That my last goal should be
--A cabbage patch.
God's Warrior

A Character
Robert Service

How often do I wish I were
What people call a character;
A ripe and cherubic old chappie
Who lives to make his fellows happy;
With in his eyes a merry twinkle,
And round his lips a laughing wrinkle;
Who radiating hope and cheer
Grows kindlier with every year.
For this ideal let me strive,
And keep the lad in me alive;
Nor argument nor anger know,
But my own way serenly go;
The woes of men to understand,
Yet walk with humour hand in hand;
To love each day and wonder why
Folks are not so jocund as I.

So be you simple, decent, kind,
With gentle heart and quiet mind;
And if to righteous anger stung,
Restrain your temper and your toungue.
Let thought for others be your guide,
And patience triumph over pride . . .
With charity for those who err,
Live life so folks may say you were--
God bless your heart!--A Character.
God's Warrior

Adoption
Robert Service

Because I was a woman lone
And had of friends so few,
I made two little ones my own,
Whose parents no one knew;
Unwanted foundlings of the night,
Left at the convent door,
Whose tiny hands in piteous plight
Seemed to implore.

By Deed to them I gave my name,
And never will they know
That from the evil slums they came,
Two waifs of want and woe;
I fostered them with love and care
As if they were my own:
Now John, my son, is tall and fair,
And dark is Joan.

My boy's a member of the Bar,
My girl a nurse serene;
Yet when I think of what they are
And what they might have been,
With shuddering I glimpse a hell
Of black and bitter fruit . . .
Where John might be a criminal,
And Joan--a prostitute.
God's Warrior

A Domestic Tragedy
Robert Service

Clorinda met me on the way
As I came from the train;
Her face was anything but gay,
In fact, suggested pain.
"Oh hubby, hubby dear!" she cried,
"I've awful news to tell. . . ."
"What is it, darling?" I replied;
"Your mother -- is she well?"

"Oh no! oh no! it is not that,
It's something else," she wailed,
My heart was beating pit-a-pat,
My ruddy visage paled.
Like lightning flash in heaven's dome
The fear within me woke:
"Don't say," I cried, "our little home
Has all gone up in smoke!"

She shook her head. Oh, swift I clasped
And held her to my breast;
"The children! Tell me quick," I gasped,
"Believe me, it is best."
Then, then she spoke; 'mid sobs I caught
These words of woe divine:
"It's coo-coo-cook has gone and bought
A new hat just like mine."
God's Warrior

Carry On
Robert Service

It's easy to fight when everything's right,
And you're mad with the thrill and the glory;
It's easy to cheer when victory's near,
And wallow in fields that are gory.
It's a different song when everything's wrong,
When you're feeling infernally mortal;
When it's ten against one, and hope there is none,
Buck up, little soldier, and chortle:

Carry on! Carry on!
There isn't much punch in your blow.
You're glaring and staring and hitting out blind;
You're muddy and bloody, but never you mind.
Carry on! Carry on!
You haven't the ghost of a show.
It's looking like death, but while you've a breath,
Carry on, my son! Carry on!

And so in the strife of the battle of life
It's easy to fight when you're winning;
It's easy to slave, and starve and be brave,
When the dawn of success is beginning.
But the man who can meet despair and defeat
With a cheer, there's the man of God's choosing;
The man who can fight to Heaven's own height
Is the man who can fight when he's losing.

Carry on! Carry on!
Things never were looming so black.
But show that you haven't a cowardly streak,
And though you're unlucky you never are weak.
Carry on! Carry on!
Brace up for another attack.
It's looking like hell, but -- you never can tell:
Carry on, old man! Carry on!

There are some who drift out in the deserts of doubt,
And some who in brutishness wallow;
There are others, I know, who in piety go
Because of a Heaven to follow.
But to labour with zest, and to give of your best,
For the sweetness and joy of the giving;
To help folks along with a hand and a song;
Why, there's the real sunshine of living.

Carry on! Carry on!
Fight the good fight and true;
Believe in your mission, greet life with a cheer;
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here.
Carry on! Carry on!
Let the world be the better for you;
And at last when you die, let this be your cry:
Carry on, my soul! Carry on!
God's Warrior

Cheer
Robert Service

It's a mighty good world, so it is, dear lass,
When even the worst is said.
There's a smile and a tear, a sigh and a cheer,
But better be living than dead;
A joy and a pain, a loss and a gain;
There's honey and may be some gall:
Yet still I declare, foul weather or fair,
It's a mighty good world after all.

For look, lass! at night when I break from the fight,
My Kingdom's awaiting for me;
There's comfort and rest, and the warmth of your breast,
And little ones climbing my knee.
There's fire-light and song -- Oh, the world may be wrong!
Its empires may topple and fall:
My home is my care -- if gladness be there,
It's a mighty good world after all.

O heart of pure gold! I have made you a fold,
It's sheltered, sun-fondled and warm.
O little ones, rest! I have fashioned a nest;
Sleep on! you are safe from the storm.
For there's no foe like fear, and there's no friend like cheer,
And sunshine will flash at our call;
So crown Love as King, and let us all sing --
"It's a mighty good world after all."
God's Warrior

Comfort
Robert Service

Say! You've struck a heap of trouble --
Bust in business, lost your wife;
No one cares a cent about you,
You don't care a cent for life;
Hard luck has of hope bereft you,
Health is failing, wish you'd die --
Why, you've still the sunshine left you
And the big, blue sky.

Sky so blue it makes you wonder
If it's heaven shining through;
Earth so smiling 'way out yonder,
Sun so bright it dazzles you;
Birds a-singing, flowers a-flinging
All their fragrance on the breeze;
Dancing shadows, green, still meadows --
Don't you mope, you've still got these.

These, and none can take them from you;
These, and none can weigh their worth.
What! you're tired and broke and beaten? --
Why, you're rich -- you've got the earth!
Yes, if you're a tramp in tatters,
While the blue sky bends above
You've got nearly all that matters --
You've got God, and God is love.
God's Warrior

Compassion
Robert Service

A beggar in the street I saw,
Who held a hand like withered claw,
As cold as clay;
But as I had no silver groat
To give, I buttoned up my coat
And turned away.

And then I watched a working wife
Who bore the bitter load of life
With lagging limb;
A penny from her purse she took,
And with sweet pity in her look
Gave it to him.

Anon I spied a shabby dame
Who fed six sparrows as they came
In famished flight;
She was so poor and frail and old,
Yet crumbs of her last crust she doled
With pure delight.

Then sudden in my heart was born
For my sleek self a savage scorn,--
Urge to atone;
So when a starving cur I saw
I bandaged up its bleeding paw
And bought a bone.

For God knows it is good to give;
We may not have so long to live,
So if we can,
Let's do each day a kindly deed,
And stretch a hand to those in need,
Bird, beast or man.
God's Warrior

Each Day a Life
Robert Service

I count each day a little life,
With birth and death complete;
I cloister it from care and strife
And keep it sane and sweet.

With eager eyes I greet the morn,
Exultant as a boy,
Knowing that I am newly born
To wonder and to joy.

And when the sunset splendours wane
And ripe for rest am I,
Knowing that I will live again,
Exultantly I die.

O that all Life were but a Day
Sunny and sweet and sane!
And that at Even I might say:
"I sleep to wake again."
God's Warrior

Eighty Not Out
Robert Service

In the gay, gleamy morn I adore to go walking,
And oh what sweet people I meet on my way!
I hail them with joy for I love to be talking,
Although I have nothing important to say.
I cheer the old grannies whose needles are plying;
I watch the wee kiddies awhoop at their play:
When sunny the sky is, you'll not be denying
The morning's the bonniest bit of the day.
With hair that is silver the look should be smiling,
And lips that are ageful should surely be wise;
And so I go gaily with gentle beguiling,
Abidding for cheer in the bright of your eyes.
I look at the vines and the blossoms with loving;
I listen with glee to the thrush on the spray:
And so with a song in my heart I am proving
That life is more beautiful every day.

For I think that old age is the rapture of living,
And though I've had many a birthday of cheer,
Of all the delectable days of God's giving,
The best of the bunch is my eightieth year.
So I will go gay in the beam of the morning
Another decade,--Oh I haven't a doubt!
Adoring the world of the Lord's glad adorning,
And sing to the glory of Ninety-not-Out.
God's Warrior

Evenfall
Robert Service

When day is done I steal away
To fold my hands in rest,
And of my hours this moment grey
I love the best;
So quietly I sit alone
And wait for evenfall,
When in the dusk doves sweetly moan
And crickets call.

With heart of humble gratitude
How it is good to bide,
And know the joy of solitude
In eventide!
When one is slow and slips a bit,
And life begins to pall,
How sweet it is in peace to sit
At evenfall!

I play upon a simple lute,
My notes are faint and few,
But ere my melodies be mute,
Pray one be true.
Lord, let the theme be thankfulness!
And as I wait my call,
More than noon rapture let me bless
Life's evenfall!
God's Warrior

Golden Days
Robert Service

Another day of toil and strife,
Another page so white,
Within that fateful Log of Life
That I and all must write;
Another page without a stain
To make of as I may,
That done, I shall not see again
Until the Judgment Day.

Ah, could I, could I backward turn
The pages of that Book,
How often would I blench and burn!
How often loathe to look!
What pages would be meanly scrolled;
What smeared as if with mud;
A few, maybe, might gleam like gold,
Some scarlet seem as blood.

O Record grave, God guide my hand
And make me worthy be,
Since what I write to-day shall stand
To all eternity;
Aye, teach me, Lord of Life, I pray,
As I salute the sun,
To bear myself that every day
May be a Golden One.
God's Warrior

Growing Old
Robert Service

Somehow the skies don't seem so blue
As they used to be;
Blossoms have a fainter hue,
Grass less green I see.
There's no twinkle in a star,
Dawns don't seem so gold . . .
Yet, of course, I know they are:
Guess I'm growing old.

Somehow sunshine seems less bright,
Birds less gladly sing;
Moons don't thrill me with delight,
There's no kick in Spring.
Hills are steeper now and I'm
Sensitive to cold;
Lines are not so keen to rhyme . . .
Gosh! I'm growing old.

Yet in spite of failing things
I've no cause to grieve;
Age with all its ailing brings
Blessings, I believe:
Kindo' gentles up the mind
As the hope we hold
That with loving we will find
Friendliness in human kind,
Grace in growing old.
God's Warrior

Home And Love
Robert Service

Just Home and Love! the words are small
Four little letters unto each;
And yet you will not find in all
The wide and gracious range of speech
Two more so tenderly complete:
When angels talk in Heaven above,
I'm sure they have no words more sweet
Than Home and Love.

Just Home and Love! it's hard to guess
Which of the two were best to gain;
Home without Love is bitterness;
Love without Home is often pain.
No! each alone will seldom do;
Somehow they travel hand and glove:
If you win one you must have two,
Both Home and Love.

And if you've both, well then I'm sure
You ought to sing the whole day long;
It doesn't matter if you're poor
With these to make divine your song.
And so I praisefully repeat,
When angels talk in Heaven above,
There are no words more simply sweet
Than Home and Love.
God's Warrior

Miracles
Robert Service

Each time that I switch on the light
A Miracle it seems to me
That I should rediscover sight
And banish dark so utterly.
One moment I am bleakly blind,
The next--exultant life I find.

Below the sable of the sky
My eyelids double darkness make.
Sleep is divine, yet oh how I
Am glad with wonder to awake!
To welcome, glimmery and wan
The mighty Miracle of Dawn.

For I've mad moments when I seem,
With all the marvel of a child,
To dwell within a world of dream,
To sober fact unreconciled.
Each simple act has struck me thus--
Incredibly miraculous.

When everything I see and do
So magical can seem to me,
How vain it is to seek the True,
The riddle of Reality . . .
So let me with joy lyrical
Proclaim all Life a Miracle!
God's Warrior

My Rocking-Chair
Robert Service

When I am old and worse for wear
I want to buy a rocking-chair,
And set it on a porch where shine
The stars of morning-glory vine;
With just beyond, a gleam of grass,
A shady street where people pass;
And some who come with time to spare,
To yarn beside my rocking-chair.
Then I will light my corn-cob pipe
And dose and dream and rarely gripe.
My morning paper on my knee
I won't allow to worry me.
For if I know the latest news
Is bad,--to read it I'll refuse,
Since I have always tried to see
The side of life that clicks with glee.

And looking back with days nigh done,
I feel I've had a heap of fun.
Of course I guess that more or less
It's you yourself make happiness
And if your needs are small and few,
Like me you may be happy too:
And end up with a hope, a prayer,
A chuckle in a rocking-chair.
God's Warrior

The Joy of Little Things
Robert Service

It's good the great green earth to roam,
Where sights of awe the soul inspire;
But oh, it's best, the coming home,
The crackle of one's own hearth-fire!
You've hob-nobbed with the solemn Past;
You've seen the pageantry of kings;
Yet oh, how sweet to gain at last
The peace and rest of Little Things!

Perhaps you're counted with the Great;
You strain and strive with mighty men;
Your hand is on the helm of State;
Colossus-like you stride . . . and then
There comes a pause, a shining hour,
A dog that leaps, a hand that clings:
O Titan, turn from pomp and power;
Give all your heart to Little Things.

Go couch you childwise in the grass,
Believing it's some jungle strange,
Where mighty monsters peer and pass,
Where beetles roam and spiders range.
'Mid gloom and gleam of leaf and blade,
What dragons rasp their painted wings!
O magic world of shine and shade!
O beauty land of Little Things!

I sometimes wonder, after all,
Amid this tangled web of fate,
If what is great may not be small,
And what is small may not be great.
So wondering I go my way,
Yet in my heart contentment sings . . .
O may I ever see, I pray,
God's grace and love in Little Things.

So give to me, I only beg,
A little roof to call my own,
A little cider in the keg,
A little meat upon the bone;
A little garden by the sea,
A little boat that dips and swings . . .
Take wealth, take fame, but leave to me,
O Lord of Life, just Little Things.
God's Warrior

The Old
Robert Service

Oh bear with me, for I am old
And count on fingers five
The years this pencil I may hold
And hope to be alive;
How sadly soon our dreaming ends!
How brief the sunset glow!
Be kindly to the old, my friends:
You'll miss them when they go.

I've seen so many disappear
That I can scarce forget,
For death has made them doubly dear
And ripened my regret.
How wistfully I've wished them back,
With cherishing to show
The gentleness I used to lack
In years of long ago.

You, young and fit, will falter too,
And when Time's load you bear,
'Twill help if others turn to you
With comforting and car;
With loving look and tender touch . . .
Aye, in their twilight wan
Revere the old - for Oh how much
You'll miss them when they've gone!
God's Warrior

The Ordinary Man
Robert Service

If you and I should chance to meet,
I guess you wouldn't care;
I'm sure you'd pass me in the street
As if I wasn't there;
You'd never look me in the face,
My modest mug to scan,
Because I'm just a commonplace
And Ordinary Man.

But then, it may be, you are too
A guy of every day,
Who does the job he's told to do
And takes the wife his pay;
Who makes a home and kids his care,
And works with pick or pen. . . .
Why, Pal, I guess we're just a pair
Of Ordinary Men.

We plug away and make no fuss,
Our feats are never crowned;
And yet it's common coves like us
Who make the world go round.
And as we steer a steady course
By God's predestined plan,
Hats off to that Almighty Force:
THE ORDINARY MAN.

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