Gentle Gaoler

Being a gaoler I'm supposed
To be a hard-boiled guy;
Yet never prison walls enclosed
A kinder soul than I:
Passing my charges precious pills
To end their ills.

And if in gentle sleep they die,
And pass to pleasant peace,
No one suspects that it is I
Who gave them their release:
No matter what the Doctor thinks,
The Warden winks.

A lifer's is a fearful fate;
It wrings the heart of me.
And what a saving to the State
A sudden death must be!
Doomed men should have the legal right
To end their plight.

And so my veronel they take,
And bid goodbye to pain;
And sleep, and never, never wake
To living hell again:
Oh call me curst or call me blest,--
I give them rest.

by Robert William Service

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