Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

"?" - Poem by Robert William Service

If you had the choice of two women to wed,
(Though of course the idea is quite absurd)
And the first from her heels to her dainty head
Was charming in every sense of the word:
And yet in the past (I grieve to state),
She never had been exactly "straight".

And the second -- she was beyond all cavil,
A model of virtue, I must confess;
And yet, alas! she was dull as the devil,
And rather a dowd in the way of dress;
Though what she was lacking in wit and beauty,
She more than made up for in "sense of duty".

Now, suppose you must wed, and make no blunder,
And either would love you, and let you win her --
Which of the two would you choose, I wonder,
The stolid saint or the sparkling sinner?

Comments about "?" by Robert William Service

  • Gold Star - 5,407 Points Rajesh Thankappan (3/23/2014 12:16:00 PM)

    Common sense says that we should not go by looks, but, this surely is a catch 22 situation because the other option that is on the table is not the least palatable. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Rookie Hannah Blockley (3/15/2014 3:47:00 PM)

    Amazing, I am no writer but that has to be my new favourite poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 11 Points Troy Ulysses Davis (1/23/2013 1:14:00 AM)

    Impressive. Quite a fortunate poet to be baffled by such a predicament. A thought provoking riddle and a clever conversation starter. Excellent marketing. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Jevan Sobukwe (10/13/2012 3:31:00 AM)

    Very intelligent poem! The poet posses a question that sounds easy, but as u proceed to read, u realize the dillemma he is faced with. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 5 Points Mohammad Akmal Nazir (5/15/2011 10:39:00 PM)

    Very rough and conservative theme. I didn't like the poem at all. Moreover I am puzzled how such poems are selected as the poem of the day.
    It was an absolute nonsense. The question posed by the poet is so ordinary that anyone can answer it without a qualm. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 4,936 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (5/15/2011 7:42:00 AM)

    Intelligent puzzle for the wed-seeker. Better we can ask the God about His attitude about this dillema because we also go to Gods-place to take His blessing before dropping bombs to the other states, so why not here to solve the problem? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Carmen Cook (5/15/2011 7:06:00 AM)

    For me indeed poem of my day....wanted to touch on this subject. And definitely worthy of poem of THE Day! ! ! Am new to the site and can't wait to have a look around :) Any tips would be greatly appreciated....... (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,989 Points Ramesh T A (5/15/2010 2:35:00 AM)

    Nice question the poem has posed at the end! Both are not useful for life! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie quercus : I've never got paid for my hits... (5/15/2010 1:51:00 AM)

    Hilarious... It reminds me of one satire written by Aleksander Fredro (1793 - 1876) :

    'Osioł kowi w ż ł oby dano,
    W jeden owies, w drugi siano.
    Uchem strzyż e, gł ową krę ci
    I to pachnie, i to nę ci.
    Od którego teraz zacznie,
    Aby sobie podjeś ć smacznie?
    Trudny wybór, trudna zgoda
    Chwyci siano, owsa szkoda,
    Chwyci owies, ż al mu siana.
    I tak stoi aż do rana,
    A od rana do wieczora;
    Aż nareszcie przyszł a pora,
    Ż e oś lina poś ród jadł a
    Z gł odu padł a...'

    It's obvious that neither of those two women were loved by the man... and he probably had ended up the way the Fredro's hero does... It must have been hilarious, at least... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Fairie Helper (5/15/2010 1:35:00 AM)

    What if one had both of those in her, aka were like God, and controls it all? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 8 Points Stephen Harris (5/15/2010 12:58:00 AM)

    Nice poem, but it would have to be the sinner (much more fun I imagine :)) . (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 9 Points Herman Chiu (10/24/2009 6:35:00 PM)

    The sinner - perhaps she can change.
    And I would also rather choose a third, like Mr. Langford says. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 142 Points Joseph Poewhit (5/15/2009 5:33:00 PM)

    Women are like alcohol, just have one. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Michael Harmon (5/15/2009 10:43:00 AM)

    A poem designed to provoke debate, like John Masefield's 'Cargoes'. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Michael Harmon (5/15/2009 10:43:00 AM)

    A poem designed to provide debate, like John Masefield's 'Cargoes'. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (5/15/2009 7:55:00 AM)

    i’d have the first
    till fit to burst
    then calm down
    with the image
    of t’other! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (5/15/2009 7:52:00 AM)

    I'm not sure this is an absurd idea. I suspect line two was put in to match the rhyme in line four. From where does Service get the idea that the Devil is dull? There is something camp and arch about this poem - perhaps the rhythm gives me that feel. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Sreedevi Anand (5/15/2009 2:24:00 AM)

    Interesting to ask
    tempting to answer
    'beauty' wins 'virtue'
    mere human psychology
    nothing else (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Matthew Leggett (5/15/2008 11:21:00 AM)

    clearly, the hands-down winner would be the sparkling sinner! nothing like a bit of sin to get the blood flowing! ! anyone who says the saint is just lying. lol. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Archie Langford (5/15/2008 2:56:00 AM)

    If it was me though it sounds absurd
    I`d marry niether but find a third
    a little dowdi a little peach
    in fact a little bit of each (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: women, beauty, wedding, woman

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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