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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 (10154 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.


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.


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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