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Courage
by
Robert Service


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Today I opened wide my eyes,
And stared with wonder and surprise,
To see beneath November skies
An apple blossom peer;
Upon a branch as bleak as night
It gleamed exultant on my sight,
A fairy beacon burning bright
Of hope and cheer.

"Alas!" said I, "poor foolish thing,
Have you mistaken this for Spring?
Behold, the thrush has taken wing,
And Winter's near."

Serene it seemed to lift its head:
"The Winter's wrath I do not dread,
Because I am," it proudly said,
"A Pioneer.

"Some apple blossom must be first,
With beauty's urgency to burst
Into a world for joy athirst,
And so I dare;
And I shall see what none shall see

December skies gloom over me,
And mock them with my April glee,
And fearless fare.

"And I shall hear what none shall hear

The hardy robin piping clear,
The Storm King gallop dark and drear
Across the sky;
And I shall know what none shall know

The silent kisses of the snow,
The Christmas candles' silver glow,
Before I die.

"Then from your frost-gemmed window pane
One morning you will look in vain,
My smile of delicate disdain
No more to see;
But though I pass before my time,
And perish in the grale and grime,
Maybe you'll have a little rhyme
To spare for me."


This poem is in the public domain.

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Robert Service (1874 - 1958) was a Scottish poet who became smitten with the Yukon Territory when he moved to Canada at the age of 21. Though he longed to be a trail-blazing cowboy, and many thought he indeed lived the life of which he wrote, Robert was, in fact, a bank clerk. After wandering North America for several years, working at odd jobs and various bank branches, he finally settled down in Dawson City, Yukon, some time after the Gold Rush. Robert began writing poems about his stark and beautiful surroundings, and about the legends and lifestyle associated with that part of the world. When his collection of poetry, The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses, was published in 1907, it was an immediate success, made Robert wealthy beyond his greatest expectations, and earned him the nickname "The Bard of the Yukon." Robert alternated living in North America and Europe for the remainder of his life--even spending a few years in Hollywood; the cabin in the Klondike where he made his home is now a Canadian national park site.

 


Post New Comment:
barbsteff:
Robert Service is one of my favorites, and a visit to Dawson City some years ago yielded a Service interpreter who was delightful. This is a very optimistic poem I think, and the rhyme scheme is worthy of salute.
Posted 11/11/2018 04:22 PM
Larry Schug:
Thanks for the background information on Service, Jayne. "Frost-gemmed window pane" applies to my windows this morning.
Posted 11/10/2018 09:49 AM
TheSilverOne:
Welcome on a cold morning in Wisconsin. ~Doris Bezio
Posted 11/10/2018 09:48 AM
KevinArnold:
Ah?Robert Service returns to YDP with this charming offering. With the eighteenth century conflating of courage and war, what a welcome poem.
Posted 11/10/2018 09:30 AM
cork:
The intricate rhyme scheme is worth close study.
Posted 11/10/2018 09:25 AM
CamilleBalla:
And so he did! I enjoyed this poetic affirmation of of the out-of-season apple blossom. I especially like Stanza 4.
Posted 11/10/2018 08:45 AM
bbatcher:
This one's much sweeter than most of the Robert Service poems I've read. He had a delightful sense of humor that some would call macabre. The last four lines of this poem could well apply to most of the men he chose as subjects.
Posted 11/10/2018 07:03 AM


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