Saturday, April 6, 2013

Today's poem by Robert Service

Contentment


An ancient gaffer once I knew,
Who puffed a pipe and tossed a tankard;
He claimed a hundred years and two,
And for a dozen more he hankered;
So o’er a pint I asked how he
Had kept his timbers tight together;
He grinned and answered: “It maun be
Because I likes all kinds o’ weather.

“For every morn when I get up
I lights my clay pipe wi’ a cinder,
And as me mug o’ tea I sup
I looks from out the cottage winder;
And if it’s shade or if it’s shine
Or wind or snow befit to freeze me,
I always say: ‘Well, now that’s fine . . .
It’s just the sort o’ day to please me.’

“For I have found it wise in life
To take the luck the way it’s coming;
A wake, a worry or a wife -
Just carry on and keep a-humming.
And so I lights me pipe o’ clay,
And though the morn on blizzard borders,
I chuckle in me guts and say:
‘It’s just the day the doctor orders.’ ”

A mighty good philosophy
Thought I, and leads to longer living,
To make the best of things that be,
And take the weather of God’s giving;
So though the sky be ashen grey,
And winds be edged and sleet be slanting,
Heap faggots on the fire and say:
“It’s just the kind of day I’m wanting.”

Robert Service (1874-1958)

When Tom's father died, we inherited one of his bookcases, as well as any of his books we wanted. We chose mysteries, nonfiction, and poetry, including a book of Robert Service's poems. As I was thumbing through this morning, I was taken with this one, whose words seem to echo those of Roger Ebert in yesterday's quote du jour. 

The bottom shelf contains Tom's father's books.



 Can you see the coffee stains? Was he reading the poems as he drank his coffee, and then put the cup down on the book? This is why I love books that belonged to someone before me.


25 comments:

  1. What a lovely poem! Thank you Nan. I have never heard of the poet - will have to go and look him up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry - I'm back! There is a whole section about him on Wiki, which is fascinating! I rather thought he might be English by the style, and indeed he was, though he spent years in Canada and America. His style is just like a lady who has been writing and performing for many years in the UK, her name is Pam Ayres, and she has a wonderful Bristol accent. Thanks for the discovery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So great that you took the time to read about him. He's quite famous here for two particular poems - The Cremation of Sam McGee, and The Shooting of Dan McGraw (titles easily confused!).

      Delete
  3. Being Alaskan born and bred I am partial to Robert Service :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would imagine he is read in the schools particularly there.

      Delete
  4. When I was reading the poem, I found I was somehow using a Lancashire accent, on looking him up in Wiki, I find that he was born in Lancashire, as was I, it's some cadence that must have remained despite all his travels.
    Nan, your posts make me a much better read woman, thank you.
    Carole

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is just amazing to me. Wow. I'm shaking my head in wonder. Really.
      And thanks for those nice words.

      Delete
  5. Beautiful post :) And this is one of the reasons I love old books so much...just imagining the history behind them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It is fun reading 'pre-owned' books. Sometimes you find writing in the margins or even notes tucked inside.

      Delete
  6. Robert Service was certainly one to grab life by the . . . whatever . . . and make the most of each day.

    I always think of him as Canadian (I suppose because we studied quite a bit of his poetry - especially the Yukon poems - in school) but I guess spending the first 20 years of his life in Britain, and another two decades in France, as well as his many years in Canada, qualifies him as citizen of the world. :-)

    Thanks for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that the truth! Love that description.

      Delete
  7. How funny to read these comments above because I thought the poem sounded like someone from England too!
    "Just carry on and keep a-humming". I love that!
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Oh, and I am GLAD to see your posts again, dear Nan!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've been searching for a clay pipe, the missing ingredient here, all to no avail I'm afraid. !!!

    Carole

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lovely! And as you know, I love seeing photos of your beautiful home. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of you as I was taking the photo. :<)

      Delete
  10. Wonderful, wonderful poem - and fits well with Roger Ebert's quote.

    I love books that have passed others' hands as well, most especially those of our family or friends. I like to wonder what they were doing, what they thought of the book, who the person was who gave it them if there is an inscription. It is a very fine bookshelf and a family treasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are so pleased to have it. Margaret and Matt got the matching one. He had them built when he moved into his apartment.

      Delete
    2. Hi Nan

      I was so happy to see you back on the blog - and I came across it quite by accident

      I have a treasured copy of "Songs of a Sourdough" that belonged to my father. I wrote about it here. Scroll down to the second entry in March. His biographer, Enid Mallory, wrote, "Words were his lifelong passion ... he could make them dance, shiver with cold or choke with loneliness and despair ... but they danced their best on the wide white stage of the Canadian North."

      The bank where he worked in Victoria still stands there, altho sadly, not as a bank. I salute him each time I pass that old building when I'm in town.

      Delete
    3. I should have emailed you to tell you I began again. Sorry.
      Wonderful words from EM. I'll check out your page.
      That's a lovely thing to do. Just so dear.

      Delete
  11. It frustrates me that used book sites are quick to proclaim a used book free of markings as if that's a plus. I dearly love to buy old books that have been marked in the margins or underlined. It is rare to find an old cookbook where someone has written by a recipe, "This was delicious!" i write in all of mine. They won't be as valuable for my kids to sell someday but while I have them I am going to converse with the author in them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't write in my books, but I sure do in my cookbooks. That's how I remember when I go to a recipe after months or years. So often there'll be a note that says it was excellent, or not so good or don't make again. :<)

      Delete
  12. How wonderful, to inherit a treasured shelf of books. I hadn't read any of Service's poetry before, thanks for the introduction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same way. Service' work is interesting. I think you'll like it.

      Delete

Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.