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This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, its rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
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Archives > Books and Poetry > Poetry > Ballads Of Cheechako > The Man from Eldorado

The Man from Eldorado

Published by Susan on 07/21/2003 (7743 reads)
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Oh, the fever of the dance-hall and the glitter and the shine,
 The beauty, and the jewels, and the whirl,
The madness of the music, the rapture of the wine,
 The languorous allurement of a girl!
She is like a lost madonna; he is gaunt, unkempt and grim;
 But she fondles him and gazes in his eyes;
Her kisses seek his heavy lips, and soon it seems to him
 He has staked a little claim in Paradise.

"Who's for a juicy two-step?" cries the master of the floor;
 The music throbs with soft, seductive beat.
There's glitter, gilt and gladness; there are pretty girls galore;
 There's a woolly man with moccasins on feet.
They know they've got him going; he is buying wine for all;
 They crowd around as buzzards at a feast,
Then when his poke is empty they boost him from the hall,
 And spurn him in the gutter like a beast.

He's the man from Eldorado, and he's painting red the town;
 Behind he leaves a trail of yellow dust;
In a whirl of senseless riot he is ramping up and down;
 There's nothing checks his madness and his lust.
And soon the word is passed around--it travels like a flame;
 They fight to clutch his hand and call him friend,
The chevaliers of lost repute, the dames of sorry fame;
 Then comes the grim awakening--the end.

                                       IV

He's the man from Eldorado, and he gives a grand affair;
 There's feasting, dancing, wine without restraint.
The smooth Beau Brummels of the bar, the faro men, are there;
 The tinhorns and purveyors of red paint;
The sleek and painted women, their predacious eyes aglow--
 Sure Klondike City never saw the like;
Then Muckluck Mag proposed the toast, "The giver of the show,
 The livest sport that ever hit the pike."

The "live one" rises to his feet; he stammers to reply--
 And then there comes before his muddled brain
A vision of green vastitudes beneath an April sky,
 And clover pastures drenched with silver rain.
He knows that it can never be, that he is down and out;
 Life leers at him with foul and fetid breath;
And then amid the revelry, the song and cheer and shout,
 He suddenly grows grim and cold as death.

He grips the table tensely, and he says: "Dear friends of mine,
 I've let you dip your fingers in my purse;
I've crammed you at my table, and I've drowned you in my wine,
 And I've little left to give you but--my curse.
I've failed supremely in my plans; it's rather late to whine;
 My poke is mighty weasened up and small.
I thank you each for coming here; the happiness is mine--
 And now, you thieves and harlots, take it all."

He twists the thong from off his poke; he swings it o'er his head;
 The nuggets fall around their feet like grain.
They rattle over roof and wall; they scatter, roll and spread;
 The dust is like a shower of golden rain.
The guests a moment stand aghast, then grovel on the floor;
 They fight, and snarl, and claw, like beasts of prey;
And then, as everybody grabbed and everybody swore,
 The man from Eldorado slipped away.


                                        V


He's the man from Eldorado, and they found him stiff and dead,
 Half covered by the freezing ooze and dirt.
A clotted Colt was in his hand, a hole was in his head,
 And he wore an old and oily buckskin shirt.
His eyes were fixed and horrible, as one who hails the end;
 The frost had set him rigid as a log;
And there, half lying on his breast, his last and only friend,
 There crouched and whined a mangy yellow dog.

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