University of Toronto
Songs of a Sourdough
Robert W. Service
tBntered accordinz to Act of
the Parliament of Canada,
in tlie year one thousand
nine hundred and seven.
by ROBERT W. SERVICE,
•at the Department of
The Law of the Yukon ....... 5
The Parson's Son ....... 11
The Spell of the Yukon 15
The Call of the Wild 19
The Lone Trail 22
The Song of the Wage Slave 25
The Shooting of Dan McGrew 30
The Cremation of Sam McGee . . . . .35
My Madonna 41
Un forgotten ......... 42
The Reckoning ........ 43
Quatrains ......... 45
The Men that Dont Fit In 47
Music in the Bush ........ 49
The Rhyme of the Remittance Man .... 52
The Low-Down White . . . . . . . 65
The Little Old Log Cabin 57
The Younger Son ........ 59
The March of the Dead 62
"Fighting Mac." 66
The Woman and the Angel ...... 70
The Rhyme of the Restless Ones . . . . .73
New Year's Eve ........ 75
Comfort .......... 79
Premonition ........ 80
The Tramps 81
Songs of a Sourdough
THE LAW OF THE YUKON.
This is the law of the Yukon, and ever she makes it
" Send not your foolish and feeble ; send me your
strong and your sane.
Strong for the red rage of battle ; sane, for I harry
Send me men girt for the combat, men who are grit
to the core;
Swift as the panther in triumph, fierce as the bear in
Sired of a bulldog parent, steeled in the furnace heat.
Send me the best of your breeding, lend me your chosen
Them will I take to my bosom, them will I call my
6 TIJE LAW OF THE YIKOX.
Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut
with my meat;
But the others — the misfits, the failures — I trample
under my feet.
Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied
Ye would send me the spawn of your gutters — Go !
take back your spawn again.
" Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my
From my ruthless throne I have ruled alone for a
million years and a day;
Hugging my mighty treasure, waiting for man to come :
Till he swept like a turbid torrent, and after him swept
— the scum.
The pallid pimp of the dead-line, the enervate of the
One by one I weeded them out, for all that I sought
was — Men.
One by one I dismayed them, frighting them sore with
One by one I betrayed them unto my manifold dooms.
Drowned them like rats in my rivers, starved them
like curs on my plains.
Rotted the flesh that was left them, poisoned the blood
in their veins;
THE LA W OF THE YUKON. 7
Burst with my winter upon them, searing forever their
Lashed them with fungus-white faces, whiraj^ering wild
in the night;
Staggering blind through the storm-whirl, stumbling
mad through the snow,
Frozen stiff in the ice pack, brittle and bent like a bow ;
Featureless, formless, forsaken, scented by wolves in
Left for the wind to make music through ribs that are
Gnawing the black crust of failure, searching the pit
Crooking the toe in the trigger, trying to patter a
Going outside with an escort, raving with lips all
af oam ;
"Writing a cheque for a million, drivelling feebly of
Lost like a louse in the burning ... or else in the
Seeking a drunlvard's solace, sinking and sinking down;
Steeped in the slime at the bottom, dead to a decent
Lost 'mid the human flotsam, far on the frontier
8 THE LAW OF THE YUKON.
In the camp at the bend of the river, with its dozen
Its gambling dens ariot, its gramophones all ablare;
Crimped with the crimes of a city, sin-ridden and
bridled with lies,
In the hush of my mountained vastness, in the flush
of my midnight skies.
Plague-spots, yet tools of my purpose, so natheless I
suffer them thrive,
Crushing my Weak in their clutches, that only my
Strong may survive.
" But the others, the men of my mettle, the men who
would 'stablish my fame.
Unto its ultimate issiie, winning me honor, not shame;
Searching my uttermost valleys, fighting each step as
Shooting the wrath of my rapids, scaling my ramparts
Ripping the guts of my mountains, looting the beds of
Them will I take to my bosom, and speak as a mother
I am the land that listens, I am the land that broods;
Steeped in eternal beauty, crystalline waters and woods.
THE LA W OF THE YUKON. 9
Long have I waited lonely, shunned as a thing accurst,
Monstrous, moody, pathetic, the last of the lands and
Visioning camp-fires at twilight, sad with a longing
Feeling my womb o'er-pregnant with the seed of cities
Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my
And I wait for the men who will win me — and I will
not be won in a day;
And I will not be won by weaklings, subtile, suave and
But by men with the hearts of vikings, and the simple
faith of a child;
Desperate, strong and resistless, unthrottled by fear or
Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut
with my meat.
" Lofty I stand from each sister land, patient and
With the weight of a world of sadness in my quiet,
Dreaming alone of a people, dreaming alone of a day,
When men shall not rape my riches, and curse me and
10 THE LA W OF THE YUKON.
Making a bawd of my bounty, fouling the hand that
Till I rise in my wrath and I sweep on their path and
I stamp them into a grave.
Dreaming of men who will bless me, of women esteem-
ing me good,
Of children born in my borders, of radiant motherhood,
Of cities leaping to stature, of fame like a flag unfurled.
As I pour the tide of my riches in the eager lap of the
This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong
'That surely the Weak shall perisli, and only the Fit
Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied
This is the Will of the Yiikon, — Lo! how she makes
THE PARSON'S SON.
THIS is the song of the parsons son, as he squats in
his shack alone.
On the wild, lueird nights when the Nortliern Lights
shoot up from the frozen zone,
And it's sixty helovj, and couched in the snoiv the
hungry husTcies moan.
^' Vm. one of the Arctic brotherhood, I'm an old-time
I came with the first — God ! how I've cursed this
Yukon — but still I'm here.
I've sweated athirst in its summer heat, I've frozen and
starved in its cold;
I've followed my dreams by its thousand streams, I've
toiled and moiled for its gold.
*' Look at my eyes — been snow-blind twice ; look where
my foot's half gone ;
And that gruesome scar on my left cheek where the
frost-fiend bit to the bone.
12 THE PARSON'S SON.
Each one a brand of this devil's land, where I've played
and I've lost the game,
A broken 'WTeck with a craze for ' hooch/ and never a
cent to my name.
" This mining is only a gamble, the worst is as good as
I was in with the bunch and I might have come out
right on top with the rest;
With Cormack, Ladue and ilacdonald — God ! but
it's hell to think
Of the thousands and thousands I've squandered on
cards and women and drink.
" In the early days we were just a few, and we hunted
and fished around,
Nor dreamt by our lonely camp-fires of the wealth
that lay under the gi^ound.
We traded in skins and whiskey, and I've often slept
under the shade
Of that lone birch tree on Bonanza, where the first big
find was made.
" We were just like a great big family, and every man
had his squaw,
And we lived such a wild, free, fearless life beyond the
pale of the law;
THE PARSON'S SON. 13
Till sudden there came a whisper, and it maddened us
And I got in on Bonanza before the big rush began.
" Oh, those Dawson da3^s, and the sin and the blaze,
and the town all open wide !
(If God made me in His likeness, sure He let the devil
But we all were mad, both the good and the bad, and
as for the women, well —
Xo spot on the map in so short a space has hustled
more souls to hell.
" Money was just like dirt there, easy to get and to
I was all caked in on a dance-hall jade, but she shook
me in the end.
It put me queer, and for near a year I never drew sober
Till I found myself in the bughouse ward with a claim
staked out on death.
" Twenty years in the Yukon, struggling along its
Eoaming its giant valleys, scaling its god-like peaks;
14 THE PARSON'S SON.
Bathed in its fiery sunsets, fighting its fiendish cold,
Twenty years in the Yukon . . . twenty years — and
" Old and weak, but no matter, there's ' hooch ' in
the bottle still.
I'll hitch up the dogs to-morrow, and mush down the
trail to Bill.
It's so long dark, and I'm lonesome — I'll just lay down
on the bed.
To-morrow I'll go . . . to-morrow ... I guess I'll
play on the red.
"... Come, Kit, your pony is saddled. I'm waiting,
dear, in the court . . .
. . . Minnie, you devil, I'll kill you if you skip with
that flossy sport . . .
. . . How much does it go to the pan. Bill ? . . . play
up. School, and play the game . . .
. . . Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy
This was the song of the parson's son, as he lay in his
Ere the fre ivent out and the cold crept in, and his
blue lips ceased to moan,
And the hunger-maddened malamutes had torn him
flesh from hone.
THE SPELL OF THE YUKON.
I WANTED the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy — 1 fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold and I got it —
Came out with a fortune last fall, —
Yet somehow life's not what I thought it.
And somehow the gold isn't all.
No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
It's the cussedest land that I know.
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it,
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe: but there's some as would trade it
For no land on earth — and I'm one.
16 THE :SPELL OF THE YUKOX.
You come to get rich (damned good reason),
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it's beeli since the beginning;
It seems it will be to the end.
I've stood in some miglity-mouthed hollow
That's plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I've watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim.
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gloaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop ;
And I've thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o' the world piled on top.
The summer — no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The greyling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness —
God! how I'm stuck on it all.
THE SPELL OF THE YUKON. 17
The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history.
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I've bade 'em good-bye — but I can't.
There's a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons ;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There's a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back — and I will.
They're making my money diminish;
I'm sick of the taste of cham.pagne.
Thanlv God! when I'm skinned to a finish
I'll pike to the Yukon again.
I'll fight— and you bet it's no sham-fight;
It's hell!— but I've been there before;
And it's better than this by a damsite —
So me for the Yukon once more.
18 THE SPELL OF THE YUKON.
There's gold, and it's haunting and haunting;
It's luring me on as of old ;
Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting,
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder.
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.
THE CALL OF THE WILD.
Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's noth-
ing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar ?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green
stream streaking through it.
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost ?
Have you strung your soul to silence ? Then for God's
sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.
Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sage-brush
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all
And learned to know the desert's little ways?
20 THE CALL OF THE WILD.
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped
o'er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know
its moods and changes ?
Then listen to the wild — it's calling you.
Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-
gemmed twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your
huskies up the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the
Have you marked the map's void spaces, mingled with
the mongrel races.
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it
off with curses?
Then hearken to the wild — it's wanting you.
Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, grovelled
down, yet grasped at irlnry.
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
THE CALL OF THE WILD. 21
"Done things " just for the doing, letting babblers tell
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul ?
Have you seen God in Ills splendors, heard the text
that nature renders?
(You'll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who
do things —
Then listen to the wild — it's calling you.
They have cradled you in custom, they have primed
you with their preaching.
They have soaked you in convention through and
They have put you in a showcase; 3'ou're a credit to
their teaching —
But can't you hear the wild ? — it's calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There's a whisper on the night- wind, there's a star
agleam to guide us,
And the wild is calling, calling ... let us go.
THE LONE TRAIL.
YE who Tcnow the Lone Trail fain ivould follow it.
Though it lead to glory or the darkness of the pit.
Ye who take the Lone Trail, hid your love good-bye;
The Lone Trail, the Lone Trail follow till you die.
The trails of the world be countless, and most of the
trails be tried;
You tread on the heels of the many, till you come
where the ways divide;
And one lies safe in the sunlight, and the other is
dreary and wan,
Yet you look aslant at the Lone Trail, and the Lone
Trail lures you on.
And somehow you're sick of the highwa3% with its noise
and its easy needs,
And you seek the risk of the by-way, and 5'ou reck not
where it leads.
THE LONE TRAIL. 23
And sometimes it leads to the desert, and the tongue
swells out of the mouth,
And 3'ou stagger blind to the mirage, to die in the
And sometimes it leads to the mountain, to the light
of the lone camp-fire.
And you guaw your belt in the anguish of hunger-
And sometimes it leads to the Southland, to the swamp
where the orchid glows,
And you rave to your grave with the fever, and they
rob the corpse for its clothes.
And sometimes it leads to the Northland, and the
scurvy softens your bones.
And your flesh dints in like putty, and you spit out
your teeth like stones.
And sometimes it leads to a coral reef in the wash of a
And you sit and stare at the empty glare where the
gulls wait greedily.
And sometimes it leads to an Arctic trail, and the
snows where your torn feet freeze,
And you whittle away the useless clay, and crawl on
your hands and knees.
Often it leads to the dead-pit ; always it leads to pain ;
24 THE LONE TRAIL.
By the bones of your brothers ye know it, but oh, to
follow you're fain.
By your bones they ^vill follow behind you, till the
ways of the world are made plain.
Bid good-bye to sweetheart, hid good-bye to friend;
The Lone Trail, The Lone Trail follow to the end.
Tarry not, and fear not, chosen of the true;
Lover of the Ijone Trail, the Lone Trail waits for you.
THE SOJ^G OF THE WAGE-SLAVE.
When the long, long day is over, and the Big Boss
gives me my pay,
I hope that it won't be hell-fire, as some of the parsons
And I hope that it won't be heaven, with some of the
parsons I've met —
All I want is just quiet, just to rest and forget.
Look at my face, toil-furrowed; look at my calloused
Master, I've done Thy bidding, wrought in Thy many
Wrought for the little masters, big-bellied they be, and
I've done their desire for a daily hire, and I die like a
dog in a ditch.
I have used the strength Thou hast given. Thou know-
est I did not shirk;
Threescore years of labor — Thine be the long day's
26 THE SONG OF THE WAGE-SLAVE.
And now. Big Master, I'm broken and bent and twisted
But I've held my job, and Thou knowest, and Thou
wilt not judge me hard.
Thou knowest my sins are many, and often I've pla3'ed
the fool —
Whiskey and cards and women, they made me the
I was just like a child with money: I flung it away
with a curse.
Feasting a fawning parasite, or glutting a harlot's
Then back to the woods repentant, back to the mill or
I, the worker of workers, everything in my line.
Everything hard but headwork (I'd no more brains
than a kid),
A brute with brute strength to labor, doing as I was
Living in camps with men-folk, a lonely and loveless
Never knew kiss of sweetheart, never caress of wife.
A brute with brute strength to labor, and they were so
far above —
Yet I'd gladly have gone to the gallows for one little
look of Love.
THE SONG OF THE WAGE-SLAVE. 21
I with the strength of two men, savage and shy and
Yet how I'd ha' treasured a woman, and the sweet,
warm kiss of a child.
Well, 'tis Th}" world, and Thou knowest. I blaspheme
and my ways be rude;
But I've lived my life as I found it, and I've done my
best to be good;
I, the primitive toiler, half naked, and grimed to the
Sweating it deep in their ditches, swining it stark in
Hurling down forests before me, spanning tumultuous
Down in the ditch building o'er me palaces fairer than
Boring the rock to the ore-bed, driving the road through
Eesolute, dumb, uncomplaining, a man in a world of
Master, I've filled my contract, wrought in Thy many
Not by my sins wilt Thou judge me, but by the work
of my hands.
Master, I've done Th}^ bidding, and the light is low in
And the long, long shift is over . . . Master, I've
earned it — Eest.
If you're up against a bruiser and you're getting
knocked about —
If you're feeling pretty groggy, and you're licked
beyond a doubt —
Don't let him see you're funlving, let him know with
Though your face is battered to a pulp, your blooming
heart is stout;
Just stand upon your pins until the beggar knocks you
This life's a bally battle, and the same advice holds
If you're up against it badly, then it's only one on you,
If the future's black as thunder, don't let people see
Just cultivate a cast-iron smile of joy the whole day
If they call you " Little Sunshine/' wish that they'd
no troubles, too —
You may — grin.
Rise up in the morning with the will that, smooth or
Sink to sleep at midnight, and although you're feeling
There's nothing gained by whining, and you're not that
kind of stuff;
You're a fighter from away back, and you won't take
Your trouble is that you don't know when you have
had enough —
Don't give in.
If Fate should down you, just get up and take another
You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like
THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW.
A Buxcii of the boys were whooping it up in the
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan
And watching his luck was his light-o"-love, the lad}'
that's known as Lou.
When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into
the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-
dirt}', and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave, and
scarcely the strength of a louse.
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called
for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger's face, though
we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was
Dangerous Dan McGrew.
THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW. 31
There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, and
hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and ho looked to me like a man who
had lived in hell ;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog
whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the
drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering
what he'd do.
And I turned my head — and there watching him was
the lady that's known as Lou.
His e3'es went rubbering round the room, and he seemed
in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wan-
The rag-time kid was having a drink ; there was no one
else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops
down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat,
and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands — my
God ! but that man could play !
32 THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW.
Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon
was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence
you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped
there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad
for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North
Lights swept in bars —
Then you've a haunch what the music meant . . .
hunger and night and the stars.
And liunger not of the belly kind, that's banished with
bacon and beans;
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and
all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls
and a roof above;
But oh ! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven
is true —
(God! how gliastly she looks through her rouge, — the
lady that's known as Lou).
THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW. 33
Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you
scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of
all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that
her love was a devil's lie;
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to
crawl away and die.
'Twas the crowning cry of a heart's despair, and it
thrilled you through and through —
" I guess I'll make it a spread misere," said Dangerous
The music almost died away ... then it burst like a
And it seemed to say, " Eepay, repay," and my eyes
were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it
stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill , . . then the music
stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in
a most peculiar way ;
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat,
and I saw him sway;
34 THE SUOOTiyO OF DAN McGREW.
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke,
and his voice was calm ;
And, " Boys," sa3's he, " 3'ou don't know me, and none
of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I'll
bet my poke they're true.
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one
is Dan McGrew."
Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and
two guns blazed in the dark;
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and
two men lay stiff and stark ;
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dan-
gerous Dan McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the
breast of the lady that's known as Lou.
These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I
ought to know;
They say that the stranger was crazed with " hooch,"
and I'm not denying it's so.
I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between
us two —
The woman that kissed him and — pinched his poke —
was the lady that's known as Lou.
THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE.
THERE are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men ivho moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your Mood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
BiLt the queerest tliey ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lalce Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Xow Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton
blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam round the
Pole God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold
him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd
sooner live in hell."
36 THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE.
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over
the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold ! through the parka's fold it stabbed
like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze, till some-
times we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was
And that very night as we lay packed tight in our robes
beneath the snow^
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were
dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and, " Cap," says he, " I'll cash in
this trip, I guess ;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last
Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no ; then he
says with a sort of moan:
" It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold till I'm
chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'taint being dead, it's my awful dread of the icy
grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate
my last remains."
THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE. 37
A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would
And we started on at the streak of dawn, but God! he
looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his
home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of
There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I
hurried, horror driven,
With a corpse half-hid that I couldn't get rid, because
of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say : " You
may tax your brawn and brains.
But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate
those last remains."
Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has
its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my
heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the
huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows — God !
how I loathed the thing.
38 THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE.
And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the
grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I
would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it heark-
ened with a grin.
Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a dere-
lict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was
called the '' Alice May."
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at
my frozen chum:
Then, " Here," said I, with a sudden cry, " is my cre-
Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped
the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared — such
a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I
stuffed in Sam McGee.
THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE. 39
Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and
the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my
cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking
down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again
I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said : " I'll just
take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked," . . . then
the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart
of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said:
" Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold
and storm —
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first
time I've been warm."
40 THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE.
There are strange tilings done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That ivould mal'e your Mood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights.
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of LaTce Leharge
I cremated Sam McGee.
I HALED me a woman from the street,
Shameless, but, oh, so fair !
I bade her sit in the model's seat,
And I painted her sitting there.
I hid all trace of her heart unclean;
I painted a babe at her breast;
I painted her as she might have been.
If the Worst had been the Best.
She laughed at my picture, and went away.
Then came, with a knowing nod,
A connoisseur, and I heard him say:
" 'Tis Mary, the Mother of God."
So I painted a halo round her hair,
And I sold her, and took my fee,
And she hangs in the church of Saint Hillaire,
Where you and all may see.
I KNOW a garden where the lilies gleam,
And one who lingers in the sunshine there;
She is than white-stoled lily far more fair,
And oh, her eyes are heaven-lit with dream.
I know a garret, cold and dark and drear,
And one who toils and toils with tireless pen,
Until his brave, sad eyes grow weary — then
He seeks the stars, pale, silent as a seer.
And ah, it's strange, for desolate and dim
Between these two there rolls an ocean wide;
Yet he is in the garden by her side.
And she is in the garret there with him.
It's fine to have a blow-out in a fancy restaurant,
With terrapin and canvas-back and all the wine you
To enjoy the flowers and music, watch the pretty
Smoke a choice cigar, and sip the wealthy water in your
It's bully in a high-toned joint to eat and drink your
But it's quite another matter when you
Pay the bill.
It's great to go out every night on fun or pleasure bent.
To wear your glad rags always, and to never save a
To drift along regardless, have a good time every trip;
To hit the high spots sometimes, and to let your chances
To know you're acting foolish, yet to go on fooling still.
Till Nature calls a show-down, and you
Pay the bill.
44 THE RECKONING.
Time has got a little bill — get wise while yet you may,
For the debit side's increasing in a most alarming way;
The things you had no right to do, the things you
should have done.
They're all put down: it's up to you to pay for every
So eat, drink and be merry, have a good time if you
But Grod help you when the time comes, and you
Foot the bill.
One said: Thy life is thine to make or mar,
To flicker feebly, or to soar, a star;
It lies with thee — the choice is thine, is thine,
To hit the ties or drive thy auto-car.
I answered Her : The choice is mine — ah, no !
We all were made or marred long, long ago.
The parts are written: hear the super wail:
" Who is stage-managing this cosmic show ?"
Blind fools of fate, and slaves of circumstance,
Life is a fiddler, and we all must dance.
From gloom where mocks that will-o'-wisp, Free-will,
I heard a voice cry : " Say, give us a chance."
Chance ! Oh, there is no chance. The scene is set.
Up with the curtain ! Man, the marionette,
Eesumes his part. The gods will work the wires.
They've got it all down fine, you bet, you bet!
It's all decreed: the mighty earthquake crash;
The countless constellations' wheel and flash;
The rise and fall of empires, war's red tide,
The composition of your dinner hash.
There's no hap-hazard in this world of ours.
Cause and effect are grim, relentless powers.
They rule the world. (A king was shot last night.
Last night I held the joker and both bowers.)
From out the mesh of fate our heads we thrust.
We can't do what we would, but what we must.
Heredity has got us in a cinch.
(Consoling thought, when you've been on a "bust.")
Hark to the song where spheral voices blend:
" There's no beginning, never will be end.''
It makes us nutty; hang -the astral chimes!
The table's spread ; come, let us dine, my friend.
THE MEN THAT DOWT FIT IN.
There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin.
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gipsy blood.
And they don't know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are.
And they want the strange and new.
They say : " Could I find my proper groove.
What a deep mark I would make !"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.
48 THE MEN THAT DON'T FIT IN.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs.
With a brilliant, fitful pace.
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
^Vho win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past.
Till he stands one da}^ with a hope that's dead
In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha ! He is one of the Legion Lost ;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who" won't fit in.
MUSIC m THE BUSH.
O'er the dark pines she sees the silver moon,
And in the west, all tremulous, a star;
And soothing sweet she hears the mellow tune
Of cow-bells jangled in the fields afar.
Quite listless, for her daily stent is done.
She stands, sad exile, at her rose-wreathed door.
And sends her love eternal with the sun
That goes to gild the land she'll see no more.
The grave, gaunt pines imprison her sad gaze,
All still the sky and darkling drearily;
She feels the chilly breath of dear, dead days
Come sifting through the alders eerily.
Oh, how the roses riot in their bloom !
The curtains stir as with an ancient pain;
Her old piano gleams from out the gloom.
And waits and waits her tender touch in vain.
50 MUSIC IN THE BUSH.
But now her hands like moonlight brush the keys
With velvet grace, melodious delight;
And now a sad refrain from overseas
Goes sobbing on the bosom of the night.
And now she sings. (0 singer in the gloom,
Voicing a sorrow we can ne'er express,
Here in the Farness where we few have room
Unshamed to show our love and tenderness,
Our hearts will echo, till they beat no more.
That song of sadness and of motherland;
And stretched in deathless love to England's shore,
Some day she'll hearken and she'll understand.)
A prima-donna in the shining past,
But now a mother growing old and grey.
She thinks of how she held a people fast
In thrall, and gleaned the triumphs of a day.
She sees a sea of faces like a dream;
She sees herself a queen of song once more;
She sees lips part in rapture, eyes agleam ;
She sings as never once she sang before.
MUSIC IN THE BUSH. 51
She sings a wild, sweet song that throbs witli pain,
The added pain of life that transcends art,
A song of home, a deep, celestial strain.
The glorious swan-song of a dying heart.
A lame tramp comes along the railway track,
A grizzled dog whose day is nearly done;
He passes, pauses, then comes slowly back
And listens there — an audience of one.
She sings — her golden voice is passion-fraught
As when she charmed a thousand eager ears ;
He listens trembling, and she knows it not,
And down his hollow cheeks roll bitter tears.
She ceases and is still, as if to pray;
There is no sound, the stars are all alight —
Only a wretch who stumbles on his way.
Only a vagrant sobbing in the night.
THE KHYME OF THE REMITTANCE MAN.
There's a four-pronged buck a-swinging in the shadow
of my cabin,
And it roamed the velvet valley till to-day;
But I tracked it by the river, and I trailed it in the
And I killed it on the mountain miles away.
Now I've had my lazy supper, and the level sun is
On the water where the silver salmon play;
And I light my little corn-cob, and I linger softly
In the twilight, of a land that's far away.
Far away, so faint and far, is flaming London, fevered
That I fancy I have gained another star;
Far away the din and hurry, far away the sin and
Far away — ^God knows they cannot be too far.
THE RHYME OF THE REMITTANCE MAN. 53
Gilded galley-slaves of jMammon — how my purse-proud
brothers taunt me!
I might have been as well-to-do as they
Had I clutched like them my chances, learned their
wisdom, crushed my fancies,
Starved my soul and gone to business every day.
Well, the cherry bends with blossom, and the vivid grass
And the star-like lily nestles in the green;
And the frogs tlieir joys are singing, and my heart in
tune is ringing.
And it doesn't matter what I might have been.
While above the scented pine-gloom, piling heights of
The sun-god paints his canvas in the west;
I can couch me deep in clover, I can listen to the story
Of the lazy, lapping water — ^it is best.
While the trout leaps in the river, and the blue grouse
thrills the cover.
And the frozen snow betrays the panther's track,
And the robin greets the dayspring with tlie rapture
of a lover,
I am happy, and I'll nevermore go back.
54 THE RHYME OF THE REMITTANCE MAN.
For I know I'd just be longing for the little old log
With the morning-glory clinging to the door,
Till I loathed the city places, cursed the care on all
Turned my back on lazar London evermore.
So send me far from Lombard Street, and write me
down a failure ;
Put a little in my purse and leave me free.
Say: "He turned from Fortune's offering to follow up
a pale lure,
He is one of us no longer — let him be."
I am one of you no longer : by the trails my feet have
The dizzy peaks I've scaled, the camp-fire's glow.
By the lonely seas I've sailed in — yea, the final word
I am signed and sealed to nature. Be it so.
THE LOW-DOWN WHITE.
This is the pay-day up at the mines, when the bearded
brutes come down;
There's money to burn in the streets to-night, so I've
sent my klooch to town,
With a haggard face and a ribband of red entwined in
her hair of brown.
And I know at the dawn she'll come reeling home with
the bottles, one, two, three;
One for herself to drown her shame, and two big bottles
To make me forget the thing I am and the man I used
To make me forget the brand of the dog, as I crouch
in this hideous place;
To make me forget once I kindled the light of love in
a lady's face,
WTiere even the squalid Siwash now holds me a black
56 TEE LOW-DOWN WHITE.
Oh, I have guarded my secret well ! And who would
dream as I speak
In a tribal tongue like a rogue unhung, 'mid the ranch-
house filth and reek,
I could roll to bed with a Latin phrase, and rise with
a verse of Greek?
Yet I was a senior prizeman once, and the pride of a
Called to the bar — my friends were true ! but they
could not keep me straight;
Then came the divorce, and I went abroad and " died "
on the Eiver Plate.
But I'm not dead yet; though with half a lung there
isn't time to spare.
And I hope that the year will see me out, and, thank
God, no one will care —
Save maybe the little slim Siwash girl with the rose
of shame in her hair.
She will come with the dawn, and the dawn is near; I
can see its evil glow,
Like a corpse-light seen through a frosty pane in a
night of want and woe;
And yonder she comes, by the bleak bull-pines, swift
staggering through the snow.
THE LITTLE OLD LOG CABIN.
WiiEX a man gits on his uppers in a hard-pan sort of
An' he ain't got nothin' comin', an' he can't afford
An' he's in a fix fer lodgin,' an' he wanders up an'
An' you'd fancy he'd been boozin', he's so locoed
'bout the feet;
When he's feel in' sneakin' sorry, an' his belt is hangin'
An' his face is peaked an' grey-like, an' his heart
gits down an' whines.
Then he's apt ter git a-thinkin' an' a-wisliin' he was
In the little ol' log cabin in the shadder of the pines.
TTlien he's on the blazin' desert, an' his canteen's sprung
An' he's all alone an' crazy, an' he's crawlin' like a
58 THE LITTLE OLD LOG CABIN.
An' his tongue's so black an' swollen that it hurts him
fer to speak,
An' he gouges down fer water, an' the raven's on his
When he's done with care and cursin', an' he feels more
lilce to cry,
An' he sees ol' Death a-grinnin', an' he thinks upon
Then he's like ter hev' a vision, as he settles down ter
Of the little ol' log cabin an' the roses an' the vines.
Oh, the little ol' log cabin, it's a solemn shinin' mark.
When a feller gits ter sinnin', an' a-goin' ter the wall.
An' folks don't understand him, an' he's gropin' in the
An' he's sick of bein' cursed at, an' he's longin' fer
When the sun of life's a-sinkin' you can see it 'way
On the hill fro]n nut the shadder in a glory 'gin the
An' your mother's voice is callin', an' her arms are
stretched in love.
An' somehow you're glad you're goin', an' you ain't
a-scared to die;
When you'll be like a kid again, an' nestle to her breast.
An' never leave its shelter, an' forget, an' love, an'
THE YOUNGER SON.
If you leave the gloom of London and you seek a glow-
Where all except the flag is strange and new,
There's a hrouzed and stalwart fellow who will grip
you by the hand,
And greet you with a welcome warm and true ;
For he's your younger brother, the one you sent away,
Because there wasn't room for him at home;
And now he's quite contented, and he's glad he didn't
And he's building Britain's greatness o'er the foam.
When the giant herd is moving at the rising of the sun,
And the prairie is lit with rose and gold;
And the camp is all abustle, and the busy day's begun,
He leaps into the saddle sure and bold.
60 THE YOUNGER SON.
Through the round of heat and hurry, through the
racket and the rout,
He rattles at a pace that nothing mars;
And when the night-winds whisper, and camp-fires
He is sleeping like a child beneath the stars.
"When the wattle-blooms are drooping in the sombre
And the breathless land is lying in a swoon,
He leaves his work a moment, leaning lightly on his
And he hears the bell-bird chime the Austral noon.
The parrakeets are silent in the gum-tree by the creek;
The ferny grove is sunshine-steeped and still;
But the dew will gem the myrtle in the twilight ere he
His little lonely cabin on the hill.
Around the purple, vine-clad slope the argent river
The roses almost hide the house from view;
A snow-peak of the Winterberg in crimson splendor
The shadow deepens down on the karroo.
He seeks the lily-scented dusk beneath the orange tree ;
His pipe in silence glows and fades and glows;
THE YOUNGER SON. 61
And then two little maids come out and climb upon his
And one is like the lily, one the rose.
He sees his white sheep dapple o'er the green New Zea-
And where Vancouver's shaggy ramparts frown,
When the sunlight threads the pine-gloom he is fighting
might and main
To clinch the rivets of an Empire down.
You will find him toiling, toiling, in the soutli or in
A child of nature, fearless, frank and free;
And the warmest heart that beats for you is beating in
And he sends you loyal greeting o'er the sea.
You've a brother in the army, you've another in the
One of you is a diplomatic swell;
You've had the pick of everything and left him in the
And yet I think he's doing very well.
I'm sure his life is happy, and he doesn't envy yours ;
I know he loves the land his pluck has won;
And I fancy in the years unborn, while England's fame
She will come to bless with pride — The Younger Son.
THE MAECH OF THE DEAD.
The cruel war was over — oh, the triunipli was so sweet !
We watelied the troops returning, through our tears ;
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet
And you scarce could hear the music for the .cheers.
And you scarce could see the house-tops for the flags
that flew between.
The bells were pealing madly to the sky;
And everyone was shouting for the Soldiers of the
And the glory of an age was passing by.
And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred.
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to
We waited, and we never spoke a word.
THE MARCH OF THE DEAD. 63
The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread :
" Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up
They are coming — it's the Army of the Dead."
They were coming, they were coming, gaunt and ghastly,
sad and slow;
They were coming, all the crimson wrecks of pride;
With faces seared, and cheeks red smeared, and haunt-
ing eyes of woe,
And clotted holes the khaki couldn't hide.
Oh, the clammy brow of anguish! the livid, foam-
flecked lips !
The reeling ranks of ruin swept along!
The limb that trailed, the hand that failed, the bloody
And oh, the dreary rhythm of their song!
" They left us on the veldt-side, but we felt we couldn't
On this, our England's crowning festal day ;
We're the men of Magersfontein, we're the men of
Colenso, — we're the men who had to pay.
64 THE MARCH OF THE DEAD.
We're the men who paid the blood-price. Shall the
grave be all our gain?
You owe us. Long and heavy is the score.
Then cheer us for our glory now, and cheer us for our
And cheer us as ye never cheered before."
The folks were white and stricken, and each tongae
seemed weighed with lead;
Each heart was clutched in hollow hand of ice;
And every eye was staring at the horror of the dead.
The pity of the men who paid the price.
They were come, were come to mock us, in the first
flush of our peace;
Through writhing lips their teeth were all agleam;
They were coming in their thousands — oh, would they
never cease !
I closed my eyes, and then — it was a dream.
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet
The town was mad, a man was like a boy.
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city
A thousand bells were thundering the joy.
THE MARCH OF THE DEAD. 65
There was music, mirth and sunshine; but some eyes
shone with regret:
And while we stun with cheers our homing braves,
God, in Thy great mercy, let us nevermore forget
The graves they left behind, the bitter graves.
A Life Tragedy.
A PISTOL shot rings round and round the world :
In pitiful defeat a warrior lies.
A last defiance to dark Death is hurled,
A last wild challenge shocks the sunlit skies.
Alone he falls with wide, wan, woeful eyes:
Eyes that could smile at death — could not face shame.
Alone, alone he paced his narrow room,
In the bright sunshine of that Paris day;
Saw in his thought the awful hand of doom;
Saw in his dream his glory pass away;
Tried in his heart, his weary heart, to pray:
" God ! who made me, give me strength to face
The spectre of this bitter, black disgrace."
''FIGHTING mac:' 67
The burn brawls darkl}- down tlie shaggy glen,
The bee-kissed heather blooms around the door;
He sees himself a barefoot boy again,
Bending o'er page of legendary lore.
He hears the pibroch, grips the red claymore,
Runs with the Fiery Cross a clansman true.
Sworn kinsman of Eob Roy and Roderick Dhu.
Eating his heart out with a wild desire,
One day, behind his counter trim and neat.
He hears a sound that sets his brain afire —
The Highlanders are marching down the street.
Oh, how the pipes shrill out, the mad drums beat !
" On to the gates of Hell, my Gordons gay !"
He flings his hated yardstick far away.
He sees the sullen pass, high-crowned with snow.
Where Afghans cower with eyes of gleaming hate.
He hurls himself against the hidden foe.
They try to rally — ah, too late, too late !
Again, defenceless, with fierce eyes that wait
For death, he stands, like baited bull at bay.
And flouts the Boers, that mad Majuba day.
68 ''FIGHTING MAC."
He sees again the murderous Soudan,
Blood-slaked and rapine swept. He seems to stand
Upon the gory plain of Omdurman.
Then ]\Iagersfontein, and supreme command
Over his Highlanders. To shake his hand
A King is proud, and princes call him friend,
And glory crowns his life — and now the end,
The awful end. His eyes are dark with doom;
He hears the shrapnel shrieking overhead;
He sees the ravaged ranks, the flame-stabbed gloom.
Oh, to have fallen! the battle-field his bed,
With Wauchope and his glorious brother-dead.
Why was he saved for this, for this? And now
He raises the revolver to his brow.
In many a Highland home, framed with rude art.
You'll find his portrait, rough-hewn, stern and square :
It's graven in the Fuyam fellah's heart;
The Ghurka reads it at his evening prayer;
The raw lands know it, where the fierce suns glare;
The Dervish fears it. Honor to his name.
Who holds aloft the shield of England's fame.
"FIGHTING MAC." 69
Mourn for our herO;, men of Xorthern race !
We do not know his sin; we only know
His sword was keen. He laughed death in the face,
And struck, for Empire's sake, a giant blow.
His arm was strong. Ah ! well they learnt, the foe.
The echo of his deeds is ringing yet,
Will ring for aye. All else ... let us forget.
THE WOMAN AND THE ANGEL.
An angel was tired of heaven, as he lounged in the
His halo was tilted sideways, and his harp lay mute at
So the Master stooped in His pity, and gave him a pass
For the space of a moon to the earth-world, to mix with
the men below.
He doffed his celestial garments, scarce waiting to lay
He bade good-bye to Peter, who stood by the golden
The sexless singers of heaven chanted a fond farewell,
And the imps looked up as they pattered on the red-hot
flags of hell.
THE WOMAN AND THE ANGEL. 71
Never was seen such an angel : eyes of a heavenly blue,
Features that shamed Apollo, hair of a golden hue;
The women simply adored him, his lips were like
But he never ventured to use them — and so they voted
Till at last there came One Woman, a marvel of love-
And she whispered to him : " Do you love me ?" And
he answered that woman, " Yes."
And she said : " Put your arms around me, and kiss
me, and hold me — so — "
But fiercely he drew back, saying : " This thing is
wrong, and I know."
Then sweetly she mocked his scruples, and softly she
" You, who are verily man among men, speak with the
tongue of a child.
We have outlived the old standards ; we have burst, like
an over-tight thong.
The ancient, outworn, puritanic traditions of Eight
72 THE WOMAN AND THE ANGEL.
Then the Master feared for His angel, and called him
again to His side,
For oh, the woman was wondrous, and oh, the angel
And deep in his hell sang the Devil, and this was the
strain of his song:
" The ancient, outworn, puritanic traditions of Right
THE EHYME OF THE KESTLESS ONES.
We couldn't sit and study for the law;
The stagnation of a bank we couldn't stand;
For our riot blood was surging, and we didn't need
To excitements and excesses that are banned.
So we took to wine and drink and other things,
And the devil in us struggled to be free;
Till our friends rose up in wrath, and they pointed out
And they paid our debts and packed us o'er the sea.
Oh, they shook us off and shipped us o'er the foam.
To the larger lands that lure a man to roam;
And we took the chance they gave.
Of a far and foreign grave,
And we bade good-bye for evermore to home.
And some of us are climbing on the peak,
And some of us are camping on the plain ;
By pine and palm you'll find us, with never claim to
By track and trail 3'ou'll meet us once again.
74 THE RHYME OF THE RESTLESS ONES.
We are fated serfs to freedom — sky and sea ;
We have failed where slummy cities overflow;
But the stranger ways of earth know our pride and
know our worth,
And we go into the dark as fighters go.
Yes, we go into the night as brave men go,
Though our faces they be often streaked with woe;
Yet we're hard as cats to kill,
And our hearts are reckless still.
And we've danced with death a dozen times or so.
And you'll find us in Alaska after gold,
And you'll find us herding cattle in the South.
We like strong drink and fun; and when the race is
We often die with curses in our mouth.
We are wild as colts unbroke, but never mean;
Of our sins we've shoulders broad to bear the blame;
But we'll never stay in town, and we'll never settle
And we'll never have an object or an aim.
No, there's that in us that time can never tame;
And life will always seem a careless game;
And they'd better far forget —
Those who say they love us yet —
Forget, blot out with bitterness our name.
NEW YEAE'S EVE.
It's cruel cold on the water-front, silent and dark and
Only the black tide weltering, only the hissing snow ;
And I, alone, like a storm-tossed wreck, on this night
of the glad New Year,
Shuffling along in the icy wind, ghastly and gaunt
They're playing a tune in McGuffy's saloon, and it's
cheery and bright in there
(God! but I'm weak — since the bitter dawn, and
never a bite of food) ;
I'll just go over and slip inside — I mustn't give way to
Perhaps I can bum a little booze if the boys are feel-
76 NEW YEAR'S EVE.
They'll jeer at me, and they'll sneer at me, and they'll
call me a whiskey soak;
("Have a drink? "Well, thankee kindly, sir, I don't
mind if I do.")
A drivelling, dirty gin-joint fiend, the butt of the bar-
Sunk and sodden and hopeless — " Another ? Well,
here's to you !"
McGuffy is showing a bunch of the boys how Bob Fitz-
The barman is talking of Tammany Hall, and why
the ward boss got fired;
I'll just sneak into a corner, and they'll let me alone a
The room is reeling round and round ... God,
but I'm tired, I'm tired. . . .
Eoses she wore on her breast that night. Oh, but their
scent was sweet;
Alone we sat on the balcony, and the fan-palms
The witching strain of a waltz by Strauss came up to
our cool retreat.
And I prisoned her little hand in mine, and I whis-
pered my plea of love.
NEW TEARS EVE. 11
Then sudden the laughter died on her lips, and lowly
she bent her head;
And oh, there came in the deep, dark eyes a look
that was heaven to see;
And the moments went, and I waited there, and never
a word was said.
And she plucked from her bosom a rose of red, and
shyly gave it to me.
Then the music swelled to a crash of joy, and the lights
blazed up like day;
And I held her fast to my throbbing heart, and I
kissed her bonny brow;
" She is mine, she is mine for evermore !" the violins
seemed to say.
And the bells were ringing the New Year in — God !
I can hear them now.
Don't you remember that long, last waltz, with its sob-
bing, sad refrain?
Don't you remember that last good-bye, and the dear
eyes dim with tears?
Don't you remember that golden dream, with never a
hint of pain,
Of lives that would blend like an angel-song in the
bliss of the coming years?
78 NEW YEARS EVE.
Oh, what have I lost ! What have I lost ! Ethel, for-
The red, red rose is faded now, and it's fifty years
'Twere better to die a thousand deaths than live each
day as I live !
I have sinned, I have sunk to the lowest depths — but
oh, I have suffered so !
Hark ! Oh hark ! I can hear the bells ! . . . Look ! I
can see her there.
Fair as a dream . . . but it fades . . . And now —
I can hear the dreadful hum
Of the crowded court . . . See ! the Judge looks down
. . . Not Guilty, my Lord, I swear . . .
The bells, I can hear the bells again . . . Ethel, I
come, I come! . . .
'•' Rouse up, old man, it's twelve o'clock. You can't
sleep here, you know.
Say! ain't you got no sentiment? Lift up your
Have a drink to the glad ISTew Year, a drop before you
You darned old dirty hobo . . . My God! Here,
boys ! He's dead ! "
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 stUl 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.
'TwAS a year ago and the moon was bright
(Oh, I remember so well, so well),
I walked with my love in a sea of light.
And the voice of my sweet was a silver bell.
And sudden the moon grew strangely dull.
And sudden my love had taken wing ;
I looked on the face of a grinning skull,
I strained to my heart a ghastly thing.
'Twas but fantasy, for my love lay still
In my arms with her tender eyes aglow.
And she wondered why my lips were chill,
Why I was silent and kissed her so.
A year has gone and the moon is bright,
A gibbous moon like a ghost of woe:
I sit by a new-made grave to-night,
And my heart is broken — it's strange, you know.
Can you recall, clear comrade, when we tramped God's
And we sang the old, old Earth-song, for our youth
was very sweet;
When we drank and fought and lusted, as we mocked
at tie and tether.
Along the road to Anywhere, the wide world at our
Along the road to Anywhere, Avhen each day had its
When time was yet our vassal, and life's Jest was
When peace unfathomed filled our hearts as, bathed in
Along the road to Anywhere we watched the sunsets
82 THE TRAMPS.
Alas ! the road to Anywhere is pitf ailed with disaster ;
There's hunger, want, and weariness, yet we loved
As on we tramped exultantly, and no man was our
And no man guessed what dreams were ours, as
swinging heel and toe.
We tramped the road to Anywhere, the magic road to
The tragic road to Anywhere such dear, dim years