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Poem by Robert William Service


Prelude (In youth I gnawed life's bitter rind)


In youth I gnawed life's bitter rind
And shared the rugged lot
Of fellows rude and unrefined,
Frustrated and forgot;
And now alas! it is too late
My sorry ways to mend,
So sadly I accept my fate,
A Roughneck to the end.

Profanity is in my voice
And slag is in my rhyme,
For I have mucked with men who curse
And grovel in the grime;
My fingers were not formed, I fear,
To frame a pretty pen,
So please forgive me if I veer
From Virtue now and then.

For I would be the living voice,
Though raucous is its tone,
Of men who rarely may rejoice,
Yet barely ever moan:
The rovers of the raw-ribbed lands,
The lads of lowly worth,
The scallywags with scaley hands
Who weld the ends of earth.



Robert William Service


Robert William Service's other poems:
  1. Pullman Porter
  2. The Missal Makers
  3. Trees against the Sky
  4. The Three Voices
  5. Mammy

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