A Verseman's Apology

Alas! I am only a rhymer,
I don't know the meaning of Art;
But I learned in my little school primer
To love Eugene Field and Bret Harte.
I hailed Hoosier Ryley with pleasure,
To John Hay I took off my hat;
These fellows were right to my measure,
And I've never gone higher than that.

The Classics! Well, most of them bore me,
The Moderns I don't understand;
But I keep Burns, my kinsman before me,
And Kipling, my friend, is at hand.
They taught me my trade as I know it,
Yet though at their feet I have sat,
For God-sake don't call me a poet,
For I've never been guilty of that.

A rhyme-rustler, rugged and shameless,
A Bab Balladeer on the loose;
Of saccarine sonnets I'm blameless,
My model has been - Mother Goose.
And I fancy my grave-digger griping
As he gives my last lodging a pat:
"This guy wrote McGrew;
'Twas the best he could do" . . .
So I'll go to my maker with that.

by Robert William Service

Comments (8)

I don't think I will take his talent at his word- -his poetry often has a bite beneath its words, a wry look below the surface
She always loves a humble poet
Service is pointing out something in this poem that I think it’s important to note—the gap between what I’ll call popular poetry and what I can only think of, at the moment, as the more refined or high-brow stuff. But Service, I’m guessing, is not representing his own tastes completely. The reason “classics” like the Odyssey and Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s plays endure is that they were able to cross the gap and appeal to low and high-brow both. -GK
An ironic view of his own ability as a poet. 'For God's sake don't call me a poet, For I've never been guilty of that'
the great poetic expression on the thought of apology - For God-sake don't call me a poet, For I've never been guilty of that.
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