It's been quite a while since I have featured work in this space by the Bard of the Yukon, Robert W. Service. "The Men that Don't Fit In" is an ode to non-conformists, those who march to their own drummers and chart their own courses in life - and then, sadly, begin to feel some regrets as life draws to a close. One is left to suspect that the poet, perhaps catching his reflection in a cold Alaskan stream, was contemplating on his own life as he penned this verse.
Robert W. Service led a rich and varied existence, sometimes in civilization's mainstream and other times on the rough edges of society. His "sourdough" or "Klondike" poetry chronicled a full spectrum of colorful characters, people who did not fit in. Somehow I suspect that Service considered himself to be one of them.
The Men That Don't Fit In
by Robert W. Service
There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.