'My Mate' by Robert W. Service

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I've been sittin' starin', starin' at 'is muddy pair of boots,
And tryin' to convince meself it's 'im.
(Look out there, lad! That sniper -- 'e's a dysey when 'e shoots;
'E'll be layin' of you out the same as Jim.)
Jim as lies there in the dug-out wiv 'is blanket round 'is 'ead,
To keep 'is brains from mixin' wiv the mud;
And 'is face as white as putty, and 'is overcoat all red,
Like 'e's spilt a bloomin' paint-pot -- but it's blood.

And I'm tryin' to remember of a time we wasn't pals.
'Ow often we've played 'ookey, 'im and me;
And sometimes it was music-'alls, and sometimes it was gals,
And even there we 'ad no disagree.
For when 'e copped Mariar Jones, the one I liked the best,
I shook 'is 'and and loaned 'im 'arf a quid;
I saw 'im through the parson's job, I 'elped 'im make 'is nest,
I even stood god-farther to the kid.

So when the war broke out, sez 'e: "Well, wot abaht it, Joe?"
"Well, wot abaht it, lad?" sez I to 'im.
'Is missis made a awful fuss, but 'e was mad to go,
('E always was 'igh-sperrited was Jim).
Well, none of it's been 'eaven, and the most of it's been 'ell,
But we've shared our baccy, and we've 'alved our bread.
We'd all the luck at Wipers, and we shaved through Noove Chapelle,
And . . . that snipin' barstard gits 'im on the 'ead.

Now wot I wants to know is, why it wasn't me was took?
I've only got meself, 'e stands for three.
I'm plainer than a louse, while 'e was 'andsome as a dook;
'E always WAS a better man than me.
'E was goin' 'ome next Toosday; 'e was 'appy as a lark,
And 'e'd just received a letter from 'is kid;
And 'e struck a match to show me, as we stood there in the dark,
When . . . that bleedin' bullet got 'im on the lid.

'E was killed so awful sudden that 'e 'adn't time to die.
'E sorto jumped, and came down wiv a thud.
Them corpsy-lookin' star-shells kept a-streamin' in the sky,
And there 'e lay like nothin' in the mud.
And there 'e lay so quiet wiv no mansard to 'is 'ead,
And I'm sick, and blamed if I can understand:
The pots of 'alf and 'alf we've 'ad, and ZIP! like that -- 'e's dead,
Wiv the letter of 'is nipper in 'is 'and.

There's some as fights for freedom and there's some as fights for fun,
But me, my lad, I fights for bleedin' 'ate.
You can blame the war and blast it, but I 'opes it won't be done
Till I gets the bloomin' blood-price for me mate.
It'll take a bit o' bayonet to level up for Jim;
Then if I'm spared I think I'll 'ave a bid,
Wiv 'er that was Mariar Jones to take the place of 'im,
To sorter be a farther to 'is kid.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"My Mate" by Robert W. Service: A Poem of Unwavering Loyalty and Love

Have you ever come across a poem that has the power to touch your soul and make you feel a range of emotions all at once? Well, if you haven't, then "My Mate" by Robert W. Service is sure to do just that. This classic poem is a masterpiece that beautifully captures the essence of unwavering loyalty and love. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I am going to delve deep into the poem and uncover the various layers of meaning and symbolism that Robert W. Service has woven into it.

The Poem's Meaning and Message

"My Mate" is a poem about a man's unwavering love and loyalty for his dog. The poem is written in the form of a monologue, with the man addressing his dog as his mate. The man begins by describing the harsh and unforgiving life they lead in the wild, with the snow and the wind being their only companions. However, despite the bleakness of their surroundings, the man finds solace in the company of his dog. He describes his dog as his rock, his confidante, and his only true friend.

As the poem progresses, the man's love and loyalty for his dog become even more apparent. He talks about how he would give up everything for his dog, including his own life. He talks about how his dog has saved him from danger and how he would do the same for his dog. He describes his dog as the one who has never betrayed him, who has never judged him, and who has always been there for him.

The Symbolism in the Poem

While on the surface, "My Mate" may seem like a simple poem about a man's love for his dog, there is a deeper layer of symbolism that Robert W. Service has woven into the poem. The poem can be interpreted as a metaphor for the bond between humans and their pets, or even between humans and their loved ones. The harsh and unforgiving life that the man and his dog lead in the wild can be seen as a metaphor for the harsh realities of life that we all face. However, despite the hardships, the man finds solace in the love and companionship of his dog.

Furthermore, the poem can also be interpreted as a commentary on the nature of human relationships. The man's unwavering loyalty and love for his dog can be seen as a contrast to the fickleness and betrayals that are often present in human relationships. The man's dog is the one who has never betrayed him, who has never judged him, and who has always been there for him. In a world where human relationships are often fraught with tension and conflict, the man's dog represents the ideal of unconditional love and loyalty.

The Poem's Structure and Language

"My Mate" is written in free verse, with no set rhyme scheme or meter. The poem's structure is simple and straightforward, with each stanza consisting of four lines. The language used in the poem is simple and direct, with no ornate language or complex metaphors. However, despite the simplicity of the language, the poem is incredibly powerful and evocative.

Robert W. Service's use of language is particularly effective in conveying the man's love and loyalty for his dog. The man's use of the word "mate" to describe his dog is particularly significant. The word "mate" connotes a sense of equality and companionship, which is exactly what the man feels for his dog. Furthermore, the man's use of repetition, such as "my mate and I" and "my mate and me" emphasizes the strength of the bond between the man and his dog.


In conclusion, "My Mate" by Robert W. Service is a beautiful and powerful poem that beautifully captures the essence of unwavering loyalty and love. The poem is rich in symbolism and can be interpreted in a variety of ways, making it a timeless masterpiece that can be appreciated by people from all walks of life. Whether you are an animal lover or not, "My Mate" is sure to touch your soul and leave a lasting impression.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has always been a medium of expression for human emotions, and Robert W. Service's "My Mate" is a classic example of how poetry can capture the essence of a relationship. The poem is a beautiful tribute to the bond between two friends, and it resonates with readers even today, almost a century after it was written. In this article, we will delve into the poem's themes, structure, and language to understand why it has stood the test of time.

"My Mate" is a poem about two friends who have been through thick and thin together. The speaker, who is one of the friends, reminisces about their adventures and how they have always been there for each other. The poem's central theme is the power of friendship, and how it can sustain us through life's ups and downs. The speaker describes his friend as "a mate of mine," which immediately establishes the intimacy of their relationship. The use of the word "mate" is significant because it implies a deep connection that goes beyond mere acquaintanceship.

The poem's structure is simple and straightforward, with four stanzas of four lines each. The rhyme scheme is AABB, which gives the poem a sing-song quality that makes it easy to remember. The simplicity of the structure is intentional because it allows the poem's message to shine through without any distractions. The poem's brevity is also noteworthy because it captures the essence of the relationship in just sixteen lines. The poem's economy of language is a testament to Service's skill as a poet.

The language of the poem is simple and accessible, which makes it easy for readers to connect with the speaker's emotions. The poem is written in the first person, which gives it a personal touch. The speaker uses colloquial language, such as "we've tramped the country together," which makes the poem feel like a conversation between two friends. The use of imagery is also effective in conveying the depth of the relationship. For example, the line "we've shared our blankets and tents" paints a vivid picture of two friends huddled together in the wilderness.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its emotional depth. The speaker's love for his friend is palpable, and it is evident that their relationship has been a source of strength for both of them. The poem's opening lines set the tone for the rest of the poem: "We've been together now for forty years, / And it don't seem a day too much." The use of the word "together" is significant because it implies a sense of unity and solidarity. The fact that they have been together for forty years is a testament to the strength of their friendship.

The poem's emotional impact is heightened by the use of repetition. The phrase "my mate" is repeated throughout the poem, which reinforces the idea that the speaker's friend is an integral part of his life. The repetition of the phrase "we've" also emphasizes the shared experiences that have brought the two friends closer together. The repetition of these phrases creates a sense of rhythm that makes the poem feel like a song.

Another notable aspect of the poem is its use of contrast. The speaker describes the hardships that he and his friend have faced together, such as "the hunger and thirst and the scorching heat." However, these hardships are juxtaposed with the joy that they have experienced together, such as "the joy of a captured game." This contrast creates a sense of balance that reflects the ups and downs of any relationship. The fact that the speaker and his friend have weathered these hardships together is a testament to the strength of their bond.

In conclusion, Robert W. Service's "My Mate" is a timeless poem that celebrates the power of friendship. The poem's simple structure, accessible language, and emotional depth make it a classic that resonates with readers even today. The poem's themes of unity, solidarity, and shared experiences are universal, and they remind us of the importance of human connection. The fact that the poem has endured for almost a century is a testament to its enduring appeal. "My Mate" is a beautiful tribute to the bond between two friends, and it is a reminder that true friendship can sustain us through life's ups and downs.

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