Rhymes of a Roughneck: Part 5

My trade was old when the world was new, Ere the pyramids rose by the Nile Men quitted their wives, and gave me their goods For the warmth of my kiss, and my smile.

For never was wife who could hold her man By the honeymoon's afterglow Did I veil mine eyes and beckon to him, G.o.d's truth, and 'tis you who know.

My trade was old when the world was new, Long ere Caesar ruled in Rome, To spend their gold in a harlot's cell Patricians quitted home.

And high born dames since the world began Have learned to sit and to sigh And to patiently wait for their lords to leave The woman that you pa.s.s by.

I'm only a p.a.w.n in the game called life, Yet I take what you never could hold; I garner the kisses you'd barter life for And with them, I gather your gold.



I garner the best of your manhood's prime Then quit them when shattered in health; I bring to heel the ones that you love And smiling I shear them of wealth.

To garner the wealth that you hold in store I must keep me surpa.s.sing fair, For the life that I lead is an open book And the game that I deal is square.

Stop--think of the maids and wives you know As you drift thru life's subtle game-- How many are dealing as straight as I?

How many can say the same?

You give your all, and you slave your life In a struggle to hold one man; You think you're paid if he call you wife And be true to you for a span.

You keep his house and you bear his child And you walk with your head held high But most of his love, and his kisses go To the woman that you pa.s.s by.

The favors you give, I sell for gold, And men prize what costs them high; You never will learn that love goes out With the tear in a woman's eye; That the patient drudge who sits at home And learns to save and to mend Can never hold the light of love But is doomed to lose in the end.

So I follow the old dishonored trade, Bedecked in garments fine, And the cream of the earth is saved for me In raiment and food and wine.

And life to me is a merry game Tho, sometimes, I weep and sigh, For deep down in your heart, do you envy me The woman that you pa.s.s by?

WHY

Why is it Alaskans all come back When they've quit this land for good?

Why is it that no man stays away When he's sworn to his friends he would?

Where lies the grip this country hath All tangled around the heart That takes a grip that can never slip And can never be torn apart?

Is it the lure of the summer sunshine That goes to the head like wine?

Is it the lure of the far flung meadows Of the shadowy scented pine?

Is it the lure of going where none have gone Of just being alone in the wild?

Is it the lure of the ancient glaciers That were old when Christ was a child?

They come here wild, athirst for gold They would win and run away, They lose the stake they brought along And then they have to stay.

Here each one follows his own bent, The mines, the hills, the mart, Work's but a name, the end's the same, The country steals your heart.

There's a lure to the land of the poppy, There's a lure to the land of your birth, You swear you abhor it, and yet you'll long for it As no other land on this earth.

There's the lure of the snow mantled vastness, There's the lure of each valley and hill, Of friends that you've met, that you'll never forget And you'll want to come back, and you will.

AND STILL I LIKE ALASKA

I've tramped across her endless miles of tundra, I've rafted all her rapid flowing streams, She's kept me on the hummer, I've fought mosquits in summer And "siwashed" neath Aurora's wintry beams, And still, I like Alaska.

I went a winter once on pay streak bacon, I've gone a year on nothing much but beans, I've squandered all my time checks, The kind they give us roughnecks, And haven't got a dollar in my jeans, And still, I like Alaska.

I got a stake one time and wandered Outside, And I'm telling you I surely put on "dog,"

But they got in between me and my poke They sure did clean me And I hit for Dixon's Entrance, on the "hog,"

And still, I like Alaska.

I don't suppose a man will live to beat it, Some day we'll quit this land of ice and snow, And when the Devil gits us, And finds a place that fits us, And we're working on the sulphur beds below, I know I'll like Alaska.

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