Poems by Author

Service, Robert

Her Toys

I sat her in her baby chair,
And set upon its tray
Her kewpie doll and teddy bear,
But no, she would not play.
Although they looked so wistfully
Her favour to implore,
She laughed at me with elfin glee
And dashed them to the floor.

I brought her lamb and circus clown,
But it was just the same:
With shrill of joy she threw them down
As if it were a game.
Maybe it was, for she would look
To see where they were lain
And act pathetic till I took
Her toys to her again.

To-day there's just an empty chair,
And 'mid a mist of pain
I'd give my life if she were there
To toss her toys again.
A tiny ghost is all I see,
Who laughs the while I cry,
And lifts her little hands with glee
Unto the sky.

Service, Robert

My Inner Life

'Tis true my garments threadbare are,
And sorry poor I seem;
But inly I am richer far
Than any poet's dream.
For I've a hidden life no one
Can ever hope to see;
A sacred sanctuary none
May share with me.

Aloof I stand from out the strife,
Within my heart a song;
By virtue of my inner life
I to myself belong.
Against man-ruling I rebel,
Yet do not fear defeat,
For to my secret citadel
I may retreat.

Oh you who have an inner life
Beyond this dismal day
With wars and evil rumours rife,
Go blessedly your way.
Your refuge hold inviolate;
Unto yourself be true,
And shield serene from sordid fate
The Real You.

Service, Robert


He wrote a play; by day and night
He strove with passion and delight;
Yet knew, long ere the curtain drop,
His drama was a sorry flop.

In Parliament he sought a seat;
Election Day brought dire defeat;
Yet he had wooed with word and pen
Prodigiously his fellow men.

And then he wrote a lighter play
That made him famous in a day.
He won a seat in Parliament,
And starry was the way he went.

Yet as he neared the door of death
They heard him say with broken breath:
'For all I've spoken, planned and penned,
I'm just a wash-out in the end.'

So are we all; our triumphs won
Are mean by what we might have done.
Our victories that men applaud
Are sordid in the sight of God.

Service, Robert


No matter how he toil and strive
The fate of every man alive
With luck will be to lie alone,
His empty name cut in a stone.

Grim time the fairest fame will flout,
But though his name be blotted out,
And he forgotten with his peers,
His stone may wear a year of years.

No matter how we sow and reap
The end of all is endless sleep;
From strife a merciful release,
From life the crowning prize of Peace.

Service, Robert

A Mediocre Man

I'm just a mediocre man
Of no high-brow pretence;
A comfortable life I plan
With care and commonsense.
I do the things most people do,
I echo what they say;
And through my morning paper view
The problems of the day.

No doubt you think I'm colourless,
Profoundly commonplace;
And yet I fancy, more or less,
I represent the race.
My name may stand for everyone,
At least for nine in ten,
For all in all the world is run
By mediocre men.

Of course you'll maybe not agree
That you are average,
And unlike ordinary me
You strut your little stage,
Well, you may even own a Bank,
And mighty mergers plan,
But Brother, doff your title and thank
The Mediocre Man.

Service, Robert


The night before I left Milan
A mob jammed the Cathedral Square,
And high the tide of passion ran
As politics befouled the air.
A seething hell of human strife,
I shrank back from its evil core,
Seeing in this convulsive life
The living seeds of war.

To Barcelona then I came,
And oh the heavenly release!
From conflict and consuming flame
I knew the preciousness of peace.
Such veneration for the law!
How decorous was every one!
And then (significant) I saw
Each copper packed a tommy gun.

Well, maybe it is best that way.
Peace can mean more than liberty:
These people, state-directed, may
Be happier than those more free.
When politics wield evil grip,
And warring factions rise and fall,
Benevolent dictatorship
May be the answer, after all.

Service, Robert

Home And Love

Just Home and Love! the words are small
Four little letters unto each;
And yet you will not find in all
The wide and gracious range of speech
Two more so tenderly complete:
When angels talk in Heaven above,
I'm sure they have no words more sweet
Than Home and Love.

Just Home and Love! it's hard to guess
Which of the two were best to gain;
Home without Love is bitterness;
Love without Home is often pain.
No! each alone will seldom do;
Somehow they travel hand and glove:
If you win one you must have two,
Both Home and Love.

And if you've both, well then I'm sure
You ought to sing the whole day long;
It doesn't matter if you're poor
With these to make divine your song.
And so I praisefully repeat,
When angels talk in Heaven above,
There are no words more simply sweet
Than Home and Love.

Service, Robert


Because I was a woman lone
And had of friends so few,
I made two little ones my own,
Whose parents no one knew;
Unwanted foundlings of the night,
Left at the convent door,
Whose tiny hands in piteous plight
Seemed to implore.

By Deed to them I gave my name,
And never will they know
That from the evil slums they came,
Two waifs of want and woe;
I fostered them with love and care
As if they were my own:
Now John, my son, is tall and fair,
And dark is Joan.

My boy's a member of the Bar,
My girl a nurse serene;
Yet when I think of what they are
And what they might have been,
With shuddering I glimpse a hell
Of black and bitter fruit
Where John might be a criminal,
And Joan a prostitute.

Service, Robert

Alias Bill

We bore him to his boneyard lot
One afternoon at three;
The clergyman was on the spot
To earn his modest fee.
We sprinkled on his coffin lid
The customary loam,
And so old Bill was snugly slid
To his last home.

A lonesome celebate we thought,
For close as clam was he;
We never guessed that he had got
A lawful family,
Till lo! we saw a gorgeous wreath
Reposing on his bier,
With on a scarlet scroll beneath:
"To Father Dear."

He ordered it hisself, they said,
Before he had to go.
His folks don't know that he is dead
Maybe they'll never know.
His step was frail, his hair was grey,
But though his sight was dim,
He liked to kid hisself that they
Still thought of him.

Maybe they did: we never knew,
And he would never tell;
Perhaps their hearts were broken too
His was, I think . . . Ah well,
We left him in the boneyard lot
With none to shed a tear,
And just a wreath, the one he bought:

"To Father Dear."

Service, Robert


A beggar in the street I saw,
Who held a hand like withered claw,
As cold as clay;
But as I had no silver groat
To give, I buttoned up my coat
And turned away.

And then I watched a working wife
Who bore the bitter load of life
With lagging limb;
A penny from her purse she took,
And with sweet pity in her look
Gave it to him.

Anon I spied a shabby dame
Who fed six sparrows as they came
In famished flight;
She was so poor and frail and old,
Yet crumbs of her last crust she doled
With pure delight.

Then sudden in my heart was born
For my sleek self a savage scorn,
Urge to atone;
So when a starving cur I saw
I bandaged up its bleeding paw
And bought a bone.

For God knows it is good to give;
We may not have so long to live,
So if we can,
Let's do each day a kindly deed,
And stretch a hand to those in need,
Bird, beast or man.

Service, Robert

My Future

"Let's make him a sailor," said Father,
"And he will adventure the sea."
"A soldier," said Mother, "is rather
What I would prefer him to be."
"A lawyer," said Father, "would please me,
For then he could draw up my will."
"A doctor," said Mother, "would ease me;
Maybe he could give me a pill."

Said Father: "Let's make him a curate,
A Bishop in gaiters to be."
Said Mother: "I couldn't endure it
To have Willie preaching to me."
Said Father: ""Let him be a poet;
So often he's gathering wool."
Said Mother with temper: "Oh stow it!
You know it, a poet's a fool."

Said Farther: "Your son is a duffer,
A stupid and mischievous elf."
Said Mother, who's rather a huffer:
"That's right - he takes after yourself."
Controlling parental emotion
They turned to me, seeking a cue,
And sudden conceived the bright notion
To ask what I wanted to do.

Said I: "my ambition is modest:
A clown in a circus I'd be,
And turn somersaults in the sawdust
With audience laughing at me."
Poor parents! they're dead and decaying,
But I am a clown as you see;
And though in no circus I'm playing,
How people are laughing at me!