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Full text of "Songs of a sourdough"



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Songs of a Sourdough 



BY 

Robert W. Service 



AUTHOR'S EDITION 

WILLIAM BRIGGS 

TORONTO 

1907 



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 
Jlgriculture. 



CONTENTS 



Paqe 

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 

Grin 28 

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 

la ill 



iv CONTENTS. 

Page 

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 

plain: 
" Send not your foolish and feeble ; send me your 

strong and your sane. 
Strong for the red rage of battle ; sane, for I harry 

them sore; 
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 

defeat. 
Sired of a bulldog parent, steeled in the furnace heat. 
Send me the best of your breeding, lend me your chosen 

ones; 
Them will I take to my bosom, them will I call my 

sons; 

5 



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 

and slain, 
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 

sway; 
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 

pen. 
One by one I weeded them out, for all that I sought 

was — Men. 
One by one I dismayed them, frighting them sore with 

my glooms; 
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 

sight, 
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 

their flight. 
Left for the wind to make music through ribs that are 

glittering wliite; 
Gnawing the black crust of failure, searching the pit 

of despair. 
Crooking the toe in the trigger, trying to patter a 

prayer; 
Going outside with an escort, raving with lips all 

af oam ; 
"Writing a cheque for a million, drivelling feebly of 

home; 
Lost like a louse in the burning ... or else in the 

tented town 
Seeking a drunlvard's solace, sinking and sinking down; 
Steeped in the slime at the bottom, dead to a decent 

world, 
Lost 'mid the human flotsam, far on the frontier 

hurled ; 



%* 



8 THE LAW OF THE YUKON. 

In the camp at the bend of the river, with its dozen 

saloons aglare, 
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 

they go, 
Shooting the wrath of my rapids, scaling my ramparts 

of snow; 
Ripping the guts of my mountains, looting the beds of 

my creeks. 
Them will I take to my bosom, and speak as a mother 

speaks. 
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 

the first; 
Visioning camp-fires at twilight, sad with a longing 

forlorn. 
Feeling my womb o'er-pregnant with the seed of cities 

unborn. 
Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my 

sway, 
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 

mild. 
But by men with the hearts of vikings, and the simple 

faith of a child; 
Desperate, strong and resistless, unthrottled by fear or 

defeat. 
Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut 

with my meat. 

" Lofty I stand from each sister land, patient and 

wearily wise, 
With the weight of a world of sadness in my quiet, 

passionless eyes; 
Dreaming alone of a people, dreaming alone of a day, 
When men shall not rape my riches, and curse me and 

go away; 



10 THE LA W OF THE YUKON. 

Making a bawd of my bounty, fouling the hand that 

gave — 
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 
world." 

This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong 

shall thrive; 
'That surely the Weak shall perisli, and only the Fit 

survive. 
Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied 

and slain. 
This is the Will of the Yiikon, — Lo! how she makes 

it plain! 



11 



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 

pioneer. 
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 

the best; 
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 

every man, 
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 

inside.) 
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 

spend. 
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 

breath, 
Till I found myself in the bughouse ward with a claim 

staked out on death. 

" Twenty years in the Yukon, struggling along its 

creeks ; 
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 
I'm old. 

" 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 

name ..." 

This was the song of the parson's son, as he lay in his 

hunTc alone. 
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. 



15 



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. 



19 



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 
sunsets blazon, 
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 
desolation. 
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze? 
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all 
creation. 
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 
through? 
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 
prize? 
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 
the story, 
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 
through ; 
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 
betide us; 
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. 



28 



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 

mocking drouth. 
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- 
goaded desire. 
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 

weedy sea. 
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. 



25 



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 

say. 
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 

hands ; 
Master, I've done Thy bidding, wrought in Thy many 

lands — 
Wrought for the little masters, big-bellied they be, and 

rich; 
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 

work. 



26 THE SONG OF THE WAGE-SLAVE. 

And now. Big Master, I'm broken and bent and twisted 

and scarred. 
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 

devil's tool. 
I was just like a child with money: I flung it away 

with a curse. 
Feasting a fawning parasite, or glutting a harlot's 

purse. 
Then back to the woods repentant, back to the mill or 

the mine, 
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 

bid; 
Living in camps with men-folk, a lonely and loveless 

life; 
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 

wild — 
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 

eyes, 
Sweating it deep in their ditches, swining it stark in 

their styes. 
Hurling down forests before me, spanning tumultuous 

streams ; 
Down in the ditch building o'er me palaces fairer than 

dreams ; 
Boring the rock to the ore-bed, driving the road through 

the fen, 
Eesolute, dumb, uncomplaining, a man in a world of 

men. 
Master, I've filled my contract, wrought in Thy many 

lands ; 
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 

the west, 
And the long, long shift is over . . . Master, I've 

earned it — Eest. 



28 



GRIN. 

If you're up against a bruiser and you're getting 
knocked about — 

Grin. 
If you're feeling pretty groggy, and you're licked 
beyond a doubt — 

Grin. 
Don't let him see you're funlving, let him know with 

every clout, 
Though your face is battered to a pulp, your blooming 

heart is stout; 
Just stand upon your pins until the beggar knocks you 
out — 

And grin. 

This life's a bally battle, and the same advice holds 
true. 

Of grin. 
If you're up against it badly, then it's only one on you, 

So grin. 



GRIN. 29 

If the future's black as thunder, don't let people see 

you're blue; 
Just cultivate a cast-iron smile of joy the whole day 

through ; 
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 
rough, 

You'll grin. 
Sink to sleep at midnight, and although you're feeling 
tough, 

Yet grin. 
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 

a rebuff; 
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 

cuff; 
You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like 
bluff 

And grin. 



30 



THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW. 

A Buxcii of the boys were whooping it up in the 
Malamute saloon; 

The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag- 
time tune; 

Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan 
McGrew, 

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- 
dering gaze. 

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 

woman's love; 
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 

Dan McGrew. 

The music almost died away ... then it burst like a 

pent-up flood; 
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. 



35 



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 
Sam McGee. 

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 

request." 

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 

not fail; 
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 

Sam McGee. 

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. 
3 



38 THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE. 

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and 
heavier grow; 

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- 
ma-tor-eum." 

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the 

boiler fire; 
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 

so; 
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 

grisly fear; 
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. 



41 



MY MADONNA. 

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. 



42 



UNFORGOTTEN. 

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. 



43 



THE EECKONING. 

It's fine to have a blow-out in a fancy restaurant, 
With terrapin and canvas-back and all the wine you 

want; 
To enjoy the flowers and music, watch the pretty 

women pass, 
Smoke a choice cigar, and sip the wealthy water in your 

glass ; 
It's bully in a high-toned joint to eat and drink your 

fill. 
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 

cent; 
To drift along regardless, have a good time every trip; 
To hit the high spots sometimes, and to let your chances 

slip; 
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 

one. 
So eat, drink and be merry, have a good time if you 

will, 
But Grod help you when the time comes, and you 

Foot the bill. 



45 



QUATEAINS. 

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! 



46 QUATRAINS. 

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. 



47 



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 
chance ; 

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. 



49 



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. 



52 



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 
cover, 
And I killed it on the mountain miles away. 
Now I've had my lazy supper, and the level sun is 
gleaming 
On the water where the silver salmon play; 
And I light my little corn-cob, and I linger softly 
dreaming, 
In the twilight, of a land that's far away. 

Far away, so faint and far, is flaming London, fevered 
Paris, 
That I fancy I have gained another star; 
Far away the din and hurry, far away the sin and 
worry. 
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 
is springing, 
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 
golden glory. 
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 
cabin, 
With the morning-glory clinging to the door, 
Till I loathed the city places, cursed the care on all 
the faces. 
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 
broken. 
The dizzy peaks I've scaled, the camp-fire's glow. 
By the lonely seas I've sailed in — yea, the final word 
is spoken, 
I am signed and sealed to nature. Be it so. 



I 



55 



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 

for me, 
To make me forget the thing I am and the man I used 

to be. 

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 

disgrace. 



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 

college eight; 
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. 



57 



THE LITTLE OLD LOG CABIN. 

WiiEX a man gits on his uppers in a hard-pan sort of 
town, 
An' he ain't got nothin' comin', an' he can't afford 
ter eat, 
An' he's in a fix fer lodgin,' an' he wanders up an' 
down, 
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' 
slack, 
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 
back 
In the little ol' log cabin in the shadder of the pines. 

TTlien he's on the blazin' desert, an' his canteen's sprung 
a leak. 
An' he's all alone an' crazy, an' he's crawlin' like a 
snail, 



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 
trail ; 
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 
his crimes, 
Then he's like ter hev' a vision, as he settles down ter 
die, 
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 
dark. 
An' he's sick of bein' cursed at, an' he's longin' fer 
his call: 
When the sun of life's a-sinkin' you can see it 'way 
above, 
On the hill fro]n nut the shadder in a glory 'gin the 
sky, 
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' 
rest. 



69 



THE YOUNGER SON. 

If you leave the gloom of London and you seek a glow- 
ing land, 
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 
stay, 
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 
flicker out, 
He is sleeping like a child beneath the stars. 

"When the wattle-blooms are drooping in the sombre 
shed-oak glade, 
And the breathless land is lying in a swoon, 
He leaves his work a moment, leaning lightly on his 
spade. 
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 
seek 
His little lonely cabin on the hill. 

Around the purple, vine-clad slope the argent river 
dreams ; 
The roses almost hide the house from view; 
A snow-peak of the Winterberg in crimson splendor 
gleams ; 
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 
knee, 
And one is like the lily, one the rose. 
He sees his white sheep dapple o'er the green New Zea- 
land plain. 
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 
the west, 
A child of nature, fearless, frank and free; 
And the warmest heart that beats for you is beating in 
his breast, 
And he sends you loyal greeting o'er the sea. 

You've a brother in the army, you've another in the 
Church ; 
One of you is a diplomatic swell; 
You've had the pick of everything and left him in the 
lurch ; 
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 
endures. 
She will come to bless with pride — The Younger Son. 



62 



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 
glittering street, 
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 
Queen, 
And the glory of an age was passing by. 

And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark 
and drear; 
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred. 
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to 
cheer ; 
We waited, and we never spoke a word. 



THE MARCH OF THE DEAD. 63 

The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy 
rack 
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread : 
" Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up 
sable black; 
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 
finger-tips ! 
And oh, the dreary rhythm of their song! 

" They left us on the veldt-side, but we felt we couldn't 
stop, 
On this, our England's crowning festal day ; 
We're the men of Magersfontein, we're the men of 
Spion Kop, 
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 
pain, 
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 
gleaming street; 
The town was mad, a man was like a boy. 
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city 
meet ; 
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. 



66 



"FIGHTING MAC." 
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. 



70 



THE WOMAN AND THE ANGEL. 

An angel was tired of heaven, as he lounged in the 

golden street; 
His halo was tilted sideways, and his harp lay mute at 

his feet; 
So the Master stooped in His pity, and gave him a pass 

to go. 
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 

them straight; 
He bade good-bye to Peter, who stood by the golden 

gate; 
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 

Cupid's bow; 
But he never ventured to use them — and so they voted 

him slow. 

Till at last there came One Woman, a marvel of love- 
liness, 

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 

him beguiled: 
" 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 

and Wrong." 



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 

was tried. 
And deep in his hell sang the Devil, and this was the 

strain of his song: 
" The ancient, outworn, puritanic traditions of Right 

and Wrong/' 



73 



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 
much urging 

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 
the path. 

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 
bind us, 
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 
run. 

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 
down. 

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. 



75 



NEW YEAE'S EVE. 

It's cruel cold on the water-front, silent and dark and 
drear ; 
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 
and slow. 

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 
despair — 
Perhaps I can bum a little booze if the boys are feel- 
ing good. 



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- 
room joke; 
Sunk and sodden and hopeless — " Another ? Well, 
here's to you !" 

McGuffy is showing a bunch of the boys how Bob Fitz- 
simmons hit; 
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 
bit; 
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 
arched above; 
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- 
give, forgive! 
The red, red rose is faded now, and it's fifty years 
ago. 
'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 

muddled head; 
Have a drink to the glad ISTew Year, a drop before you 

go— 

You darned old dirty hobo . . . My God! Here, 

boys ! He's dead ! " 



79 



COMFORT. 



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. 



80 



PEEMONITION. 

'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. 



81 



THE TEAMPS. 

Can you recall, clear comrade, when we tramped God's 
land together, 
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 
feet. 

Along the road to Anywhere, Avhen each day had its 
story; 
When time was yet our vassal, and life's Jest was 
still unstale; 
When peace unfathomed filled our hearts as, bathed in 
amber glory, 
Along the road to Anywhere we watched the sunsets 
pale. 



82 THE TRAMPS. 

Alas ! the road to Anywhere is pitf ailed with disaster ; 
There's hunger, want, and weariness, yet we loved 
it so! 
As on we tramped exultantly, and no man was our 
master. 
And no man guessed what dreams were ours, as 
swinging heel and toe. 
We tramped the road to Anywhere, the magic road to 
Anywhere, 
The tragic road to Anywhere such dear, dim years 
ago. 



u