My Madonna

By Robert W. Service 1874–1958
I haled me a woman from the street,
   Shameless, but, oh, so fair!
I bade her sit in the model’s seat
   And I painted her sitting there.

I hid all trace of her heart unclean;
   I painted a babe at her breast;
I painted her as she might have been
   If the Worst had been the Best.

She laughed at my picture and went away.
   Then came, with a knowing nod,
A connoisseur, and I heard him say;
   “’Tis Mary, the Mother of God.”

So I painted a halo round her hair,
   And I sold her and took my fee,
And she hangs in the church of Saint Hillaire,
   Where you and all may see.

Source: The Best of Robert Service (1953)

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Poet Robert W. Service 1874–1958

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Painting & Sculpture, Religion, Arts & Sciences, Christianity

Poetic Terms Common Measure

 Robert W. Service

Biography

Born in Lancashire, England to a bank cashier and an heiress, poet Robert William Service moved to Scotland at the age of five, living with his grandfather and three aunts until his parents moved to Glasgow four years later and the family reunited. He wrote his first poem on his sixth birthday, and was educated at some of the best schools in Scotland, where his interest in poetry grew alongside a desire for travel and adventure.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Painting & Sculpture, Religion, Arts & Sciences, Christianity

POET’S REGION Canada

Poetic Terms Common Measure

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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