Hypertext of "The Ballad of Pious Pete" by Robert Service
of a Cheechako --1909 by Robert
“The Ballad of Pious
"The North has got
I tried to
refine that neighbor of mine, honest to God, I did.
I grieved for his fate, and early and late I watched over him like a kid.
I gave him excuse, I bore his abuse in every way that I could;
I swore to prevail; I camped on his trail; I plotted and planned for his
By day and by night I strove in men's sight to gather
him into the fold,
With precept and prayer, with hope and despair, in hunger and hardship
I followed him into Gehennas
of sin, I sat where the sirens sit;
In the shade of the Pole, for the sake of his soul, I strove with the
powers of the Pit.
I shadowed him down to the scrofulous
town; I dragged him from dissolute brawls;
But I killed the galoot when he started to shoot electricity
into my walls.”
God knows what I
did he should seek to be rid of one who would save him from shame.
God knows what I bore that night when he swore and bade me make tracks
from his claim.
I started to tell of the horrors of hell,
when sudden his eyes lit like coals;
And "Chuck it," says he, "don't persecute me with your cant and your saving
I'll swear I was mild as I'd be with a child, but he called me the son
of a slut;
And, grabbing his gun with a leap and a run, he threatened my face with
So what could I do (I leave it to you)? With curses he harried me forth;
Then he was alone, and I was alone, and over us menaced the North.
Our cabins were
near; I could see, I could hear; but between us there rippled the creek;
And all summer through, with a rancor that grew, he would pass me and
never would speak.
Then a shuddery breath like the coming of Death crept down from the peaks
The water was still; the twilight was chill; the sky was a tatter of gray.
Swift came the Big
Cold, and opal and gold the
lights of the witches arose;
The frost-tyrant clinched, and the valley was cinched by the stark and
The trees were like lace where the star-beams could chase, each leaf was
a jewel agleam.
The soft white hush lapped the Northland and wrapped us round in a crystalline
So still I could hear quite loud in my ear the swish of the pinions of
So bright I could see, as plain as could be, the wings of God's angels
As I read in the
Book I would oftentimes look to that cabin just over the creek.
Ah me, it was sad and evil and bad, two neighbors who never would speak!
I knew that full well like a devil
in hell he was hatching out, early and late,
A system to bear through the frost-spangled air the warm, crimson waves
of his hate.
I only could peer and shudder and fear--'twas ever so ghastly and still;
But I knew over there in his lonely despair he was plotting me terrible
I knew that he nursed a malice accurst, like the blast of a winnowing
I pleaded aloud for a shield, for a shroud--Oh, God! then calamity came.
If I'm mad then you too are mad; but it's all in the point of view.
If you'd looked at them things
gallivantin' on wings, all purple and green and blue;
If you'd noticed them twist, as they mounted and hissed like scorpions
dim in the dark;
If you'd seen them rebound with a horrible sound, and spitefully spitting
If you'd watched IT with dread, as it hissed by your bed, that thing with
the feelers that crawls—
You'd have settled the brute that attempted to shoot
electricity into your walls.
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