Friday, October 11, 2013

A Domestic Tragedy  -  1921
Robert W. Service
3 stanzas  -  24 lines
genre  -  poetry
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

Robert Service was 41 when World War I broke out; he enlisted, but was turned down "due to varicose veins." He briefly covered the war for the Toronto Star, then worked as a stretcher bearer and ambulance driver with the Ambulance Corps of the American Red Cross, until his health broke.

With the end of the war, Service "settled down to being a rich man in Paris.... During the day he would promenade in the best suits, with a monocle. At night he went out in old clothes with the company of his doorman, a retired policeman, to visit the lowest dives of the city.".

During his time in Paris he was reputedly the wealthiest author living in the city, yet was known to dress as a working man and walk the streets, blending in and observing everything around him. Those experiences would be used in his next book of poetry, Ballads of a Bohemian.

A poem called " A Domestic Tragedy" was included in that book.

Clorinda met me on the way
As I came from the train;
Her face was anything but gay,
In fact, suggested pain.
"Oh hubby, hubby dear!" she cried,
 "I've awful news to tell. . . ."

Yes, I know I'm leaving you hanging.  You'll just have to read the poem to find out what the horrible disaster was.  Don't worry; you'll smile when you read the ending.

About the author  - 

Robert W. Service was born in Preston, Lancashire, England, the first of ten children. His father, also Robert Service, was a banker from Kilwinning, Scotland, who had been transferred to England. At five years old Robert W. Service went to live in Kilwinning with his three aunts and his paternal grandfather.

At nine, Service rejoined his parents who had moved to Glasgow. He attended Glasgow's Hillhead High School. After leaving school, Service joined the Commercial Bank of Scotland which would later become the Royal Bank of Scotland. He was writing at this time and reportedly already "selling his verses".

Service moved to Canada at the age of 21.  Service was hired by a Canadian Bank of Commerce branch in Victoria, British Columbia.  In 1909, he decided to resign to devote his time to writing.

After World War I, Service married a French woman, Germaine Bougeoin, and the two lived in Europe, mainly in the south of France, until the poet’s death in 1958.

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