Alas! I see that thrushes three...
In the Spotlight !
This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, it's rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
All Entries 1997 - 2002
All Entries 2002
Odds and Ends, Other Items Of Interest About Robert
The WomenPublished by Webmaster on 2003/7/21 (4781 reads)
The Women in Robert's Poems by Art Ude
The Women in Robert's Poems
by Art Ude
From Lady Lou and Gumboot Sue to Montreal Maree,
It is probably his "ladies of the sisterhood of shame" that brought you to this page (you'll find a list at the bottom) but it would be unfair not to examine all of Robert's women. In his later years Service wrote several poems on children and his granddaughter. These are flattering, nostalgic, and sentimental. An example is Balloon from Rhymes For My Rags.
I bought my little grandchild Ann
As if it gloried to be free.
Oh Little One, I pray that you
But even in these poems written near the end of his career we can find the Service of old. Take a look at The Pretty Lady on a train also from Rhymes For My Rags.
It can be claimed that Service had a chauvinistic attitude toward women. There is ample evidence of this. In the first half of the 20th century this view could easily be described as "traditional" or, at worst, "old fashioned." What liberated women of today would find satisfaction in Cinderella from Rhymes of a Roughneck or The Mother from Rhymes of a Rolling Stone. Or try these two from Rhymes of a Roughneck and Songs For My Supper
And there is also the noble side that Robert dramatizes so well in these two from Rhymes of a Red Cross Man: Cocotte and Fleurette.
However it is in the early ballads and verse that we find the women we have come to love best. These are a salty lot, Lady Lou from Dangerous Dan being the most famous. When questioned by a deacon of the church who had found his wife reading one of Service's book, as to why he only wrote about bad women of the town, and said nothing of the good ones? James Mackay in his biography Vagabond of Verse relates the following: "Robert responded mildly that we took the good ones for granted, adding that vice had more colour than virtue, 'I write to please the public, and, though I have nothing against virtue, I frequently remarked that a lot of people look on it as rather a bore.'"
Certainly Robert did not bore us with his women, but I think there was more to it than that. He knew that the worst of them were not all bad, and the best were not all good. My Madonna typifies this, as does this from Songs For My Supper.
I knew a women powerful bad
Another dame I knew who walked
Though these two women sisters were,
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