The Telegraph Operator

Original Text: 
Robert W. Service, Ballads of a Cheechako (Toronto: William Briggs, 1909): 105-08. PS 8537 E72B3 Robarts Library
1I will not wash my face;
2    I will not brush my hair;
3I "pig" around the place --
4    There's nobody to care.
5Nothing but rock and tree;
6    Nothing but wood and stone;
7Oh God, it's hell to be
8    Alone, alone, alone.
9Snow-peaks and deep-gashed draws
10    Corral me in a ring.
11I feel as if I was
12    The only living thing
13On all this blighted earth;
14    And so I frowst and shrink,
15And crouching by my hearth,
16    I hear the thoughts I think.
17I think of all I miss --
18    The boys I used to know;
19The girls I used to kiss;
20    The coin I used to blow:
21The bars I used to haunt;
22    The racket and the row;
23The beers I didn't want
24    (I wish I had 'em now).
25Day after day the same,
26    Only a little worse;
27No one to grouch or blame --
28    Oh, for a loving curse!
29Oh, in the night I fear,
30    Haunted by nameless things,
31Just for a voice to cheer,
32    Just for a hand that clings!
33Faintly as from a star
34    Voices come o'er the line;
35Voices of ghosts afar,
36    Not in this world of mine.
37Lives in whose loom I grope;
38    Words in whose weft I hear
39Eager the thrill of hope,
40    Awful the chill of fear.
41I'm thinking out aloud;
42    I reckon that is bad;
43(The snow is like a shroud) --
44    Maybe I'm going mad.
45Say! wouldn't that be tough?
46    This awful hush that hugs
47And chokes one is enough
48    To make a man go "bugs".
49There's not a thing to do;
50    I cannot sleep at night;
51No wonder I'm so blue;
52    Oh, for a friendly fight!
53The din and rush of strife;
54    A music-hall aglow;
55A crowd, a city, life --
56    Dear God, I miss it so!
57Here, you have moped enough!
58    Brace up and play the game!
59But say, it's awful tough --
60    Day after day the same
61(I've said that twice, I bet).
62    Well, there's not much to say.
63I wish I had a pet,
64    Or something I could play.
65Cheer up! don't get so glum
66    And sick of everything;
67The worst is yet to come;
68    God help you till the Spring.
69God shield you from the Fear;
70    Teach you to laugh, not moan.
71Ha! ha! it sounds so queer --
72    Alone, alone, alone.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1996-2000.