Work

When twenty-one I loved to dream,
And was to loafing well inclined;
Somehow I couldn't get up steam
To welcome work of any kind.
While students burned the midnight lamp,
With dour ambition as their goad,
I longed to be a gayful tramp
And greet adventure on the road.

But now that sixty years have sped,
Behold! I toil from morn to night.
The thoughts that teem into my head
I pray: God give me time to write.
With eager and unflagging pen
No drudgery of desk I shirk,
And preach to all retiring men
The gospel of unceasing work.

And yet I do not sadly grieve
Such squandering of golden days;
For from my dreaming I believe
Have stemmed my least unworthy lays.
Aye, toil is best when all is said,
As age has made me understand . . .
So fitly fold, when I am dead,
A pencil in my hand.

by Robert William Service

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