Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Sunday poem

I was rooting around for a poem on a sporting theme (sorry, in the grip of World Cup obsession here), but couldn't find much of worth. However, I did stumble upon this, a short poem I hadn't previously encountered by the great bard of the Yukon Territory, Robert Service. It's inspired, I imagine, by the challenges of survival in the wilderness, but in general it's more about surviving "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" in our daily lives - and thus provides an apposite inspiration to hard done-by and under-performing football teams.

The Quitter

When you’re lost in the Wild, and you’re scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you’re sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: “Fight all you can,”
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.

“You’re sick of the game!” Well, now, that’s a shame.
You’re young and you’re brave and you’re bright.
“You’ve had a raw deal!” I know—but don’t squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don’t be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it’s so easy to quit:
It’s the keeping-your-chin-up that’s hard.

It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten—and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight—
Why, that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try—it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.

Robert W. Service (1874-1958)

1 comment:

JES said...

Of course it was his preferred form anyway, but in this particular poem I think the relentlessness of RWS's rhyme and rhythm particularly suits his subject!