Sunday, September 20, 2015

What Dragons Rasp Their Painted Wings!

A Little Garden By The Sea...
—Anonymous Painting

—Robert William Service, 1874-1958
It's good the great green earth to roam, 

Where sights of awe the soul inspire; 

But oh, it's best, the coming home, 

The crackle of one's own hearth-fire! 

You've hob-nobbed with the solemn
You've seen the pageantry of kings; 

Yet oh, how sweet to gain at last

The peace and rest of Little Things!

Perhaps you're counted with the Great; 

You strain and strive with mighty men; 

Your hand is on the helm of State; 

Colossus-like you stride . . . and then 

There comes a pause, a shining hour, 

A dog that leaps, a hand that clings:

O Titan, turn from pomp and power; 

Give all your heart to Little Things. 

Go couch you childwise in the grass, 

Believing it's some jungle strange, 

Where mighty monsters peer and pass, 

Where beetles roam and spiders range. 

'Mid gloom and gleam of leaf and blade, 

What dragons rasp their painted wings! 

O magic world of shine and shade! 

O beauty land of Little Things!

I sometimes wonder, after all, 

Amid this tangled web of fate, 

If what is great may not be small, 

And what is small may not be great.

So wondering I go my way, 

Yet in my heart contentment sings . . . 

O may I ever see, I pray, 

God's grace and love in Little Things. 

So give to me, I only beg, 

A little roof to call my own, 

A little cider in the keg, 

A little meat upon the bone; 

A little garden by the sea, 

A little boat that dips and swings . . . 

Take wealth, take fame, but leave to me, 

O Lord of Life, just Little Things.


About Robert Service, his website ( says: He was not a poet's poet. Fancy-Dan dilettantes will dispute the description "great." He was a people's poet. To the people he was great. They understood him, and knew that any verse carrying the by-line of Robert W. Service would be a lilting thing, clear, clean and power-packed, beating out a story with a dramatic intensity that made the nerves tingle. And he was no poor, garret-type poet, either. His stuff made money hand over fist. One piece alone, The Shooting of Dan McGrew, rolled up half a million dollars for him. He lived it up well and also gave a great deal to help others.