The Song Of The Mouth-organ Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


With apologies to the singer of the Song of the BanjoA
I'm a homely little bit of tin and boneB
I'm beloved by the Legion of the LostC
I haven't got a vox humana toneB
And a dime or two will satisfy my costD
I don't attempt your high falutin' flightsE
I am more or less uncertain on the keyF
But I tell you boys there's lots and lots of nightsE
When you've taken mighty comfort out of meF
I weigh an ounce or two and I'm so smallG
You can pack me in the pocket of your vestH
And when at night so wearily you crawlG
Into your bunk and stretch your limbs to restH
You take me out and play me soft and lowA
The simple songs that trouble your heartstringsE
The tunes you used to fancy long agoA
Before you made a rotten mess of thingsE
Then a dreamy look will come into your eyesE
And you break off in the middle of a noteI
And then with just the dreariest of sighsE
You drop me in the pocket of your coatI
But somehow I have bucked you up a bitJ
And as you turn around and face the wallG
You don't feel quite so spineless and unfitJ
You're not so bad a fellow after allG
Do you recollect the bitter Arctic nightK
Your camp beside the canyon on the trailL
Your tent a tiny square of orange lightK
The moon above consumptive like and paleL
Your supper cooked your little stove aglowA
You tired but snug and happy as a childM
Then 'twas Turkey in the Straw till your lips were nearly rawN
And you hurled your bold defiance at the WildM
Do you recollect the flashing lashing painO
The gulf of humid blackness overheadP
The lightning making rapiers of the rainO
The cattle horns like candles of the deadP
You sitting on your bronco there aloneB
In your slicker saddle sore and sick with coldQ
Do you think the silent herd did not hear The Mocking BirdR
Or relish Silver Threads among the GoldQ
Do you recollect the wild Magellan coastS
The head winds and the icy roaring seasE
The nights you thought that everything was lostC
The days you toiled in water to your kneesE
The frozen ratlines shrieking in the galeL
The hissing steeps and gulfs of livid foamT
When you cheered your messmates nine with Ben Bolt and ClementineU
And Dixie Land and Seeing Nellie HomeT
Let the jammy banjo voice the Younger SonV
Who waits for his remittance to arriveW
I represent the grimy gritty oneV
Who sweats his bones to keep himself aliveW
Who's up against the real thing from his birthX
Whose heritage is hard and bitter toilY
I voice the weary smeary ones of earthX
The helots of the sea and of the soilY
I'm the Steinway of strange mischief and mischanceE
I'm the Stradivarius of blank defeatZ
In the down world when the devil leads the danceE
I am simply and symbolically meetZ
I'm the irrepressive spirit of mankindA2
I'm the small boy playing knuckle down with DeathB2
At the end of all things known where God's rubbish heap is thrownB
I shrill impudent triumph at a breathB2
I'm a humble little bit of tin and hornC2
I'm a byword I'm a plaything I'm a jestH
The virtuoso looks on me with scornC2
But there's times when I am better than the bestH
Ask the stoker and the sailor of the seaE
Ask the mucker and the hewer of the pineU
Ask the herder of the plain ask the gleaner of the grainO
There's a lowly loving kingdom and it's mineU

Robert Service


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