Vain Venture

To have a business of my own
With toil and tears,
I wore my fingers to the bone
For weary years.
With stoic heart, for sordid gold
In patient pain
My life and liberty I sold
For others gain.

I scrimped and scraped, as cent by cent
My savings grew;
I found a faded shop for rent,
Made it like new.
Above the door the paint was dry
Where glowed my name:
I waited there for folks to buy--
But no one came.

Now I am back where I began:
Myself I sell.
I grovel to a greedy man,
And life is hell.
An empty shop of bankrupt shame
I pass before,
Seeing my bitter, bleary name
Above the door.

by Robert William Service

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