By Robert W. Service
It’s my belief that every man
Should do his share of work,
And in our economic plan
No citizen should shirk.
That in return each one should get
His meed of fold and food,
And feel that all his toil and sweat
Is for the common good.
It’s my belief that every chap
Should have an equal start,
And there should be no handicap
To hinder his depart;
That there be fairness in the fight,
And justice in the race,
And every lad should have the right
To win his proper place.
It’s my belief that people should
Be neither rich nor poor;
That none should suffer servitude,
And all should be secure.
That wealth is loot, and rank is rot,
And foul is class and clan;
That to succeed a man may not
Exploit his brother man.
It’s my belief that heritage
And usury are wrong;
That each should win a worthy wage
And sing an honest song ….
Not one like this — for though I rue
The wrong of life, I flout it.
Alas! I’m not prepared to do
A goddam thing about it.
About the author
(Excerpted from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/robert-w-service)
Born in Lancashire, England to a bank cashier and an heiress, poet Robert William Service (1874 – 1958) moved to Scotland at the age of five, living with his grandfather and three aunts until his parents moved to Glasgow four years later and the family reunited. He wrote his first poem on his sixth birthday, and was educated at some of the best schools in Scotland, where his interest in poetry grew alongside a desire for travel and adventure.
A casual usage of what would today be considered ethnic slurs complicates contemporary readings of his work, though his epic, rhymed, often humorous poems about the West’s wilderness, Yukon gold miners, and World War I show the narrative mastery, appetite for adventure, and eye for detail that enabled him to bridge the spheres of popular and literary audiences.
He was a correspondent for the Toronto Star during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, and served in World War I as an ambulance driver in France. After the war, Service married Germaine Bougeoin and they resided mainly in the south of France until his death.
Service’s two-room cabin in the Yukon, which he lived in from November 1909 until June 1912 while writing his Gold Rush novel The Trail of Ninety-Eight (1911) and his poetry collection Rhymes of a Rolling Stone (1913), is maintained as a historic site for visitors.