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Poem by Robert William Service


At San Sebastian


The Countess sprawled beside the sea
As naked a she well could be;
Indeed her only garments were
A "G" string and a brassière
Her washerwoman was amazed,
And at the lady gazed and gazed, -
From billowy-bosom swell
To navel like a pink sea shell.

The Countess has of robes three score,
She doffs and leaves them on the floor;
She changes gowns ten times a ay,
Her chambermaid puts them away.
"How funny!" thinks the washer-wife;
"I've toiled and toiled throughout my life,
And only have, to hide my skin,
This old rag that I'm standing in."

The Countess never toiled at all;
She begged for coin when she was small,
And later, in the ancient fashion,
In gay resorts she peddled passion.
But now to noble rank arrived,
(Tom wed the old Count she contrived)
Her youthful lover, lounging there,
Is hirsute as a teddy-bear.

The Countess will be honoured when
She dies past three-score years and ten.
The washer-women will wear out
With labour fifty years about...
Yet as the two look at each other
The Countess thinks: "So was my mother;
And washer-wife to live and die,
But for God's grace so would be I."



Robert William Service


Robert William Service's other poems:
  1. Pullman Porter
  2. The Three Voices
  3. The Missal Makers
  4. Trees against the Sky
  5. The Search (Happiness, a-roving round)


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