Artist – Robert W Service


He gave a picture exhibition,
Hiring a little empty shop.
Above its window: FREE ADMISSION
Cajoled the passers-by to stop;
Just to admire – no need to purchase,
Although his price might have been low:
But no proud artist ever urges
Potential buyers at his show.


Of course he badly needed money,
But more he needed moral aid.
Some people thought his pictures funny,
Too ultra-modern, I’m afraid.
His painting was experimental,
Which no poor artist can afford-
That is, if he would pay the rental
And guarantee his roof and board.


And so some came and saw and sniggered,
And some a puzzled brow would crease;
And some objected: “Well, I’m jiggered!”
What price Picasso and Matisse?
The artist sensitively quivered,
And stifled many a bitter sigh,
But day by day his hopes were shivered
For no one ever sought to buy.


And then he had a brilliant notion:
Half of his daubs he labelled: SOLD.
And lo! he viewed with queer emotion
A public keen and far from cold.
Then (strange it is beyond the telling),
He saw the people round him press:
His paintings went – they still are selling…
Well, nothing succeeds like success.


By Robert W Service
Read more of his poetry
Picture: The Artist – Bill Root


4 thoughts on “Artist – Robert W Service

  1. I like this poet also, and you so brilliantly conveyed his art here. A beautiful tribute to a man ahead and behind his time. I enjoyed your take on this. Your perspective is lovely.
    The great white north can certainly help a writer with perspective, as does the sea, and war, and greed. He can take you to all these places, with a true silver pen and flawless imagery. I do love his haunts, and enjoy reading his works, over and over again. Timeless.

    1. Thank you, very pleased to hear you like his work! 🙂 Yes I think he was a man ahead of his time, and I have heard that other more traditional poets looked down on his works because he appealed to the working class man much more than any other class, and I can see why in this poem and a few others of his, he had a determination to reveal the illusions of life, something I like very much!!
      Suzy 😀

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