When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.
"You're sick of the game!" Well, now that’s a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know — but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit, it’s so easy to quit.
It’s the keeping-your chin-up that’s hard.
It’s easy to cry that you're beaten — and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight —
Why that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each grueling bout,
All broken and battered and scarred,
Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.
Rhymes of a Rolling Stones. Robert W. Service. Toronto: William Briggs, 1912; New York: Dodd Mead, 1912; London: Fisher Unwin, 1913.
My personal experience, having gone through difficult times when it was painful to even draw another breath, and the best I hoped for was to get through another five minutes let alone the day ... the thoughts of suicide ... to end the pain ... started to make sense. Now not enough that I started to make plans, but enough that it frightened me, and it provided some insight into how an otherwise rational person can start view suicide as a rational alternative.
This poem helped me understand that set-backs are hard, and yet they are temporary, and it seems I've never taken the easy way through anything. And it is the keeping-on-living that will win the game.
I would like to include others' experiences and insights in this blog.. we can learn from each other. Yet I won't use your story without your permission and all personal details will be protected.
Do you care to share your own thoughts about this poem, or your own experience and insights?
You are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.