When the Long, Long Day is Over
By Robert W. Service
When the long, long day is over, and the Big Boss gives me my pay,
I hope it won’t be hell-fire, as some of the parsons say,
And I hope it won’t be Heaven with some of the parsons I’ve met;
All I want is just quiet to rest and to be quiet and forget.
Look at my face toil-furrowed, look at my calloused hands –
Master, I’ve done Thy bidding, wrought in Thy many lands;
Wrought for the little masters, big-bellied they be and rich,
Done their desire for a daily hire and lain like a dog in the ditch.
I’ve used the strength Though didst give me; Thou knowest I did not shirk
Three score years of labor; Thine is the long day’s work.
And now Big Master I’m broken, bent, and twisted and scarred,
But I’ve held my job and Thou knowest, and wilt not judge me hard.
Thou knowest my sins are many, and often I’ve played the fool;
Whiskey and cards and women have made me the devil’s tool.
I was just like a child with money; I flung it away with a curse,
Feasting a fawning parasite or glutting a harlot’s purse.
Then back to the woods repentant, back to the mill or mine,
I the worker of workers, all things were in my line;
Everything hard but head-work – I’ve no more brains than a kid –
A brute with brute strength to labor, doing as I was bid.
Living in camps with men folk, a lonely and loveless life,
Never knew kiss of sweetheart, never caress of wife.
A brute with brute strength to labor, and they were so far above,
Yet I’d gladly have gone to the gallows for one little look of love.
I, with the strength of two men, savage and shy and wild,
Yet how I’d have treasured a woman’s love and the warm, sweet kiss of a child.
Well, ‘tis Thy world and Thou knowest; I blaspheme and my ways be rude,
But I’ve lived my life as I found it and I’ve done my best to be good.
I, the primitive toiler, half naked and grimed to the eyes,
Sweating it steep in their ditches, swining it stark in their styes.
Hurling down forests before me, spanning tumultuous streams,
Down in the ditch, building o’er me, palaces fairer than dreams.
Boring the rock to the ore bed, driving the gad through the fen,
Resolute, dumb, uncomplaining, a man in a world of men.
Master, I’ve filled thy contract, wrought in Thy many lands,
Not by my sins will though judge me, but by the work of my hands.
Master, I’ve done Thy bidding, and the light is low in the West,
And the long, long shift is over; Master, I’ve earned my rest.