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Pullman Porter

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The porter in the Pullman car
Was charming, as they sometimes are.
He scanned my baggage tags: “Are you
The man who wrote of Lady Lou?”
When I said “yes” he made a fuss —
Oh, he was most assiduous;
And I was pleased to think that he
Enjoyed my brand of poetry.

He was forever at my call,
So when we got to Montreal
And he had brushed me off, I said:
“I’m glad my poems you have read,
I feel quite flattered, I confess,
And if you give me your address
I’ll send you (autographed, of course)
One of my little books of verse.”

He smiled — his teeth were white as milk;
He spoke — his voice was soft as silk.
I recognized, despite his skin,
The perfect gentleman within.
Then courteously he made reply:
“I thank you kindly, Sir, but I
With many other cherished tome
Have all your books of verse at home.

“When I was quite a little boy
I used to savour them with joy;
And now my daughter, aged three,
Can tell the tale of Sam McGee;
While Tom, my son, that’s only two,
Has heard the yarn of Dan McGrew ....
Don’t think your stuff I’m not applaudin’ —
My taste is Eliot and Auden.”

So as we gravely bade adieu
I felt quite snubbed — and so would you.
And yet I shook him by the hand,
Impressed that he could understand
The works of those two tops I mention,
So far beyond my comprehension —
A humble bard of boys and barmen,
Disdained, alas! by Pullman carmen.

Source: The Best of Robert Service (1953)
Pullman Porter

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