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Robert Service


I'd hate to be a centipede (of legs I've only two),
For if new trousers I should need (as oftentimes I do),
The bill would come to such a lot 'twould tax an Astorbilt,
Or else I'd have to turn a Scot and caper in a kilt.

I'm jolly glad I haven't got a neck like a giraffe.
I'd want to tie it in a knot and shorten it by half.
or, as I wear my collars high, how laundry men would gloat!
And what a lot of beer I'd buy to lubricate my throat!

I'd hate to be a goldfish, snooping round a crystal globe,
A naughty little bold fish, that distains chemise or robe.
The public stare I couldn't bear, if naked as a stone,
And when my toilet I prepare, I'd rather be alone.

I'd hate to be an animal, an insect or a fish.
To be the least like bird or beast I've not the slightest wish.
It's best I find to be resigned, and stick to Nature's plan:
Content am I to live and die, just - Ordinary MAN.

This poem is in the public domain.


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:
Delightful~~so clever and entertaining. If I added up all the $ I've gained from writing poetry, I could buy a dress and a pair of shoes IF I hit a sale.
Posted 04/24/2024 12:45 AM
Very enjoyable!!
Posted 04/23/2024 07:56 PM
Darrell Arnold:
What? A poet whose poetry "made (him) wealthy beyond his greatest expectations, . ."! If that isn't elite status I don't know what is. The vast majority of us, we who labor with love over our rhyme and meter, are content just to get an attaboy, now and then, or even a place in Jayne's roster.
Posted 04/23/2024 02:44 PM
Wilda Morris:
A fun poem. I really like Robert Service, though it had been a while since I read any of his poems.
Posted 04/23/2024 01:49 PM
What a fun take on the whole clothing issue! Thank you, Jayne!
Posted 04/23/2024 12:48 PM
What a treat to discover and read a Robert Service poem! Thank you Jayne! To the other commentators, thank you for your various informative background on Mr. Service. I will certainly look him up as I was so delighted and entertained by his wonderful rhythmic storytelling!
Posted 04/23/2024 11:51 AM
Ron Stewart:
Robert Service is my favourite poet. I have visited the Yukon mny times and even seen the humble cabin in Dawson where he spent his time. He often could be seen walking around at night composing his poetry in his head. If you like The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew, have a read of Bill the Bomber.
Posted 04/23/2024 10:29 AM
By the way Jayne, loved your giraffe illustration to start us off... Randy
Posted 04/23/2024 08:43 AM
Bravo!!! Bravo!!! I'll stick my neck and say I loved this poem. I'd even stand on my hind legs if I had any (and had the obligatory leg coverings)and stomp my feet in appreciation of his verses... oh man, what a man-ly poet! Randy Mazie
Posted 04/23/2024 08:42 AM
Darrell Arnold:
Robert Service is one of those classic poets we "writers of rhyme"herald as a "Great," a poet to be studied and instructed by. I doubt if there is even one cowboy poet, anywhere, who hasn't loved his "The Cremation of Sam McGee," a poem so well known in the West, that it is commonly recited, even as part of melodramas in community playhouses.
Posted 04/23/2024 08:32 AM
Larry Schug:
I would have liked being around Service while he wrote. Might have learned something and not just about poetry.
Posted 04/23/2024 07:43 AM

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