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The Man From Athabaska Analysis

Author: Poetry of Robert Service Type: Poetry Views: 160

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Rhymes of a Red Cross ManOh the wife she tried to tell me that 'twas nothing but the thrummingOf a wood-pecker a-rapping on the hollow of a tree;

And she thought that I was fooling when I said it was the drummingOf the mustering of legions, and 'twas calling unto me;'Twas calling me to pull my freight and hop across the sea.And a-mending of my fish-nets sure I started up in wonder,For I heard a savage roaring and 'twas coming from afar;

Oh the wife she tried to tell me that 'twas only summer thunder,And she laughed a bit sarcastic when I told her it was War;'Twas the chariots of battle where the mighty armies are.Then down the lake came Half-breed Tom with russet sail a-flying,And the word he said was "War" again, so what was I to do?

Oh the dogs they took to howling, and the missis took to crying,As I flung my silver foxes in the little birch canoe:Yes, the old girl stood a-blubbing till an island hid the view.Says the factor: "Mike, you're crazy! They have soldier men a-plenty.You're as grizzled as a badger, and you're sixty year or so."

"But I haven't missed a scrap," says I, "since I was one and twenty.And shall I miss the biggest? You can bet your whiskers -- no!"So I sold my furs and started . . . and that's eighteen months ago.For I joined the Foreign Legion, and they put me for a starterIn the trenches of the Argonne with the Boche a step away;

And the partner on my right hand was an apache from Montmartre;On my left there was a millionaire from Pittsburg, U. S. A.(Poor fellow! They collected him in bits the other day.)But I'm sprier than a chipmunk, save a touch of the lumbago,And they calls me Old Methoosalah, and `blagues' me all the day.

I'm their exhibition sniper, and they work me like a Dago,And laugh to see me plug a Boche a half a mile away.Oh I hold the highest record in the regiment, they say.And at night they gather round me, and I tell them of my roamingIn the Country of the Crepuscule beside the Frozen Sea,

Where the musk-ox runs unchallenged, and the cariboo goes homing;And they sit like little children, just as quiet as can be:Men of every crime and colour, how they harken unto me!And I tell them of the Furland, of the tumpline and the paddle,Of secret rivers loitering, that no one will explore;

And I tell them of the ranges, of the pack-strap and the saddle,And they fill their pipes in silence, and their eyes beseech for more;While above the star-shells fizzle and the high explosives roar.And I tell of lakes fish-haunted, where the big bull moose are calling,And forests still as sepulchres with never trail or track;

And valleys packed with purple gloom, and mountain peaks appalling,And I tell them of my cabin on the shore at Fond du Lac;And I find myself a-thinking: Sure I wish that I was back.So I brag of bear and beaver while the batteries are roaring,And the fellows on the firing steps are blazing at the foe;

And I yarn of fur and feather when the `marmites' are a-soaring,And they listen to my stories, seven `poilus' in a row,Seven lean and lousy


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