The Wood-cutter Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


The sky is like an envelopeA
One of those blue official thingsB
And sealing it to mock our hopeA
The moon a silver wafer clingsB
What shall we find when death gives leaveC
To read our sentence or reprieveC
I'm holding it down on God's scrap pile up on the fag end of earthD
O'er me a menace of mountains a river that grits at my feetE
Face to face with my soul self weighing my life at its worthD
Wondering what I was made for here in my last retreatE
Last Ah yes it's the finish Have ever you heard a man cryF
Sobs that rake him and rend him right from the base of the chestG
That's how I've cried oh so often and now that my tears are dryF
I sit in the desolate quiet and wait for the infinite RestG
Rest Well it's restful around me it's quiet clean to the coreH
The mountains pose in their ermine in golden the hills are cladI
The big blue silt freighted Yukon seethes by my cabin doorH
And I think it's only the river that keeps me from going madI
By day it's a ruthless monster a callous insatiate thingJ
With oily bubble and eddy with sudden swirling of breastG
By night it's a writhing Titan sullenly murmuringJ
Ever and ever goaded and ever crying for restG
It cries for its human tribute but me it will never drownK
I've learned the lore of my river my river obeys me wellL
I hew and I launch my cordwood and raft it to Dawson townK
Where wood means wine and women and incidentally hellL
Hell and the anguish thereafter Here as I sit aloneM
I'd give the life I have left me to lighten some load of careN
The bitterest part of the bitter is being denied to atoneM
Lips that have mocked at Heaven lend themselves ill to prayerN
Impotent as a beetle pierced on the needle of FateO
A wretch in a cosmic death cell peaks for my prison barsP
'Whelmed by a world stupendous lonely and listless I waitO
Drowned in a sea of silence strewn with confetti of starsP
See from far up the valley a rapier pierces the nightQ
The white search ray of a steamer Swiftly serenely it nearsR
A proud white alien presence a glittering galley of lightQ
Confident poised triumphant freighted with hopes and fearsR
I look as one looks on a vision I see it pulsating byF
I glimpse joy radiant faces I hear the thresh of the wheelS
Hoof like my heart beats a moment then silence swoops from the skyF
Darkness is piled upon darkness God only knows how I feelS
Maybe you've seen me sometimes maybe you've pitied me thenT
The lonely waif of the wood camp here by my cabin doorH
Some day you'll look and see not futile and outcast of menT
I shall be far from your pity resting forevermoreH
My life was a problem in ciphers a weary and profitless sumU
Slipshod and stupid I worked it dazed by negation and doubtV
Ciphers the total confronts me Oh Death with thy moistened thumbU
Stoop like a petulant schoolboy wipe me forever outV

Robert William Service


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