The Reckoning

By Robert W. Service 1874–1958
It’s fine to have a blow-out in a fancy restaurant,
With terrapin and canvas-back and all the wine you want;
To enjoy the flowers and music, watch the pretty women pass,
Smoke a choice cigar, and sip the wealthy water in your glass.
It’s bully in a high-toned joint to eat and drink your fill,
But it’s quite another matter when you
                                                                         Pay the bill.

It’s great to go out every night on fun or pleasure bent;
To wear your glad rags always and to never save a cent;
To drift along regardless, have a good time every trip;
To hit the high spots sometimes, and to let your chances slip;
To know you’re acting foolish, yet to go on fooling still,
Till Nature calls a show-down, and you
                                                                         Pay the bill.

Time has got a little bill — get wise while yet you may,
For the debit side’s increasing in a most alarming way;
The things you had no right to do, the things you should have done,
They’re all put down; it’s up to you to pay for every one.
So eat, drink and be merry, have a good time if you will,
But God help you when the time comes, and you
                                                                         Foot the bill.

Source: The Best of Robert Service (1953)

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Poet Robert W. Service 1874–1958

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Time & Brevity, Living

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 Time & Brevity, Living

POET’S REGION Canada

Poetic Terms Common Measure

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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