This introduction will serve as my Six Sentences this week, as I am storied out. Trust me, it would be a disservice for me to force myself to write and then force that gibberish on you, dear reader. So after these six sentences you can read on or not— the quota having been met, you are under no obligation to read more, but there are extra servings. Actually I am serving leftovers, a remake of a November 2019 post where I followed our own Sixer Lisa Tomey to LivingPoetry because I was intrigued by the prompt to show gratitude to another poet. I immediately thought of Robert Service, whose poetry I’ve known and related to since a youngster fortunate to have crossed his path if not in time, then in place, and so first I present one of his poems (not The Cremation of Sam McGee) and then one of mine in humble imitation. As always, thank you to hostess extraordinaire Denise for the weekly serving of prompt.
The Amateur Poet, by Robert Service
You see that sheaf of slender books
Upon the topmost shelf,
At which no browser ever looks,
Because they’re by . . . myself;
They’re neatly bound in navy blue,
But no one ever heeds;
Their print is clear and candid too,
Yet no one ever reads.
Poor wistful books! How much they cost
To me in time and gold!
I count them now as labour lost,
For none I ever sold;
No copy could I give away,
For all my friends would shrink,
And look at me as if to say:
“What waste of printer’s ink!”
And as I gaze at them on high,
Although my eyes are sad,
I cannot help but breathe a sigh
To think what joy I had –
What ecstasy as I would seek
To make my rhyme come right,
And find at last the phrase unique
Flash fulgent in my sight.
Maybe that rapture was my gain
Far more than cheap success;
So I’ll forget my striving vain,
And blot out bitterness.
Oh records of my radiant youth,
No broken heart I’ll rue,
For all my best of love and truth
Is there, alive in you.
Thank You Robert Service by D. Avery
Robert Service, Yukon poet,
You’re read, please rest assured!
Even doubt, you dare here show it,
Yet raised me on your words;
I’ve walked the land that you once tread
You inspired me, you know;
Your poems, first I ever read,
Your shared words like sourdough.
You grounded me with your meter,
Gave wings to me with rhyme;
Gave me poetry! What sweeter?
Gave courage to write mine;
Your ballads inspired children’s play,
When young I lived up north;
Further reading, you’d more to say!
I learned a poet’s force.
You wrote of war, you wrote of love,
Wrote life, great and tragic;
You brought to Earth the stars above,
Wakened me to magic;
Sometimes still, when I take up pen
It’s you who shows the trail,
Leads on, into the wild again
Courting heaven and hell.
From you I learned of garrets bare
of mining phrase and rhyme
panning for all that sparkles there
rich treasures writ sublime;
Upon my shelves your books still stand
Precious alchemic gold
When reading you I’m young again