Collected Poems of Robert Service
Robert Service, Collected Poems of Robert Service (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons) 1940.
It took me months and months, but I can now finally say that I have read all they way through the poems of Robert Service. And there are a lot of them! 728 pages in this volume, which contains Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, Ballads of a Cheechako, The Spell of the Yukon, Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, Ballads of a Bohemian, and Bar-Room Ballads. The themes are a bit repetitious and the style is way too sing song for my taste. However, these are poems that are easy to memorize and more than a few of them tell an interesting story. I can see why Service has become popular among those who enjoy spinning a good yarn from time to time.
Buried in the middle of the text is a bit of commentary by Service himself with which I have to agree: "I am not fool enough to think I am a poet, but I have a knack of rhyme and I love to make verses. Mine is a tootling, tin-whistle music." (p. 432). This is not the poetry of a sage or of a prophet, but rather the rhymes of a storyteller. It is a bit of tin-whistle tootling, but my-o-my what a lot of tootling it is.
At least I can say I've read all of the Robert Service that I could get my hands on and I won't have to return to his poetry again for a long time.