'The Low-Down White' by Robert W. Service

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This is the pay-day up at the mines, when the bearded brutes come down;
There's money to burn in the streets to-night, so I've sent my klooch to town,
With a haggard face and a ribband of red entwined in her hair of brown.

And I know at the dawn she'll come reeling home with the bottles, one, two, three --
One for herself, to drown her shame, and two big bottles for me.
To make me forget the thing I am and the man I used to be.

To make me forget the brand of the dog, as I crouch in this hideous place;
To make me forget once I kindled the light of love in a lady's face,
Where even the squalid Siwash now holds me a black disgrace.

Oh, I have guarded my secret well! And who would dream as I speak
In a tribal tongue like a rogue unhung, 'mid the ranch-house filth and reek,
I could roll to bed with a Latin phrase and rise with a verse of Greek?

Yet I was a senior prizeman once, and the pride of a college eight;
Called to the bar -- my friends were true! but they could not keep me straight;
Then came the divorce, and I went abroad and "died" on the River Plate.

But I'm not dead yet; though with half a lung there isn't time to spare,
And I hope that the year will see me out, and, thank God, no one will care --
Save maybe the little slim Siwash girl with the rose of shame in her hair.

She will come with the dawn, and the dawn is near; I can see its evil glow,
Like a corpse-light seen through a frosty pane in a night of want and woe;
And yonder she comes by the bleak bull-pines, swift staggering through the snow.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Low-Down White by Robert W. Service: A Masterpiece of Narrative Poetry

As someone who loves poetry and has read a lot of it, I can honestly say that few poems have moved me as much as Robert W. Service's "The Low-Down White." This narrative poem, written in Service's signature ballad style, tells the chilling story of a young man who is falsely accused of a crime and lynched by a mob in the American South.

The poem begins with a description of the protagonist, a "low-down white" who is "born with a silver spoon" but has fallen into poverty and despair. Service's use of colloquial language and regional dialect immediately sets the tone for the poem, and draws the reader into the world of the story.

One of the things that makes "The Low-Down White" such a powerful poem is its use of imagery. Service vividly describes the landscape of the South, with its "miles and miles of cotton," "red clay hills," and "swamps and bayous." He also paints a vivid picture of the mob that lynches the protagonist, describing them as a "yelling, cursing, sweating crowd."

But it is the way that Service uses imagery to convey the emotions of the characters that really sets this poem apart. For example, when the protagonist is being dragged through the streets by the mob, he describes his fear by saying that his "heart was beating like a drum." Similarly, when he is about to be hanged, he describes the noose tightening around his neck as feeling "like a hot iron."

Another thing that makes "The Low-Down White" such a powerful poem is its use of repetition. Service repeats certain phrases throughout the poem, such as "low-down white," "born with a silver spoon," and "string him up." This repetition creates a sense of rhythm and urgency, and helps to drive the narrative forward.

The poem also makes use of a variety of poetic techniques, such as alliteration, assonance, and rhyme. For example, in the lines "With their hoots and howls they tried to drown / The low-down white man's cry," Service uses both alliteration (hoots and howls) and assonance (tried to drown / low-down).

One of the most striking things about "The Low-Down White" is the way that it explores themes of racism, justice, and power. The protagonist is lynched not because he is guilty of a crime, but because he is a poor white man in a society where power is held by wealthy whites. The poem also explores the ways in which racism and prejudice can be used to manipulate people and stir up mob violence.

At the same time, however, the poem is not simply a political statement. It is a deeply human story, with characters who are flawed and complex. The protagonist is not a hero, but nor is he a villain. He is a man who has made mistakes and paid a terrible price for them.

Ultimately, what makes "The Low-Down White" such a powerful poem is the way that it combines all of these elements - the vivid imagery, the repetition, the poetic techniques, and the exploration of complex themes - into a single, cohesive narrative. It is a poem that is both beautiful and haunting, and one that will stay with the reader long after they have finished reading it.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend "The Low-Down White" to anyone who loves poetry, whether they are a fan of narrative poetry or not. It is a masterpiece of the form, and a stark reminder of the power that poetry can have in telling the stories of the forgotten and the marginalized.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Low-Down White: A Masterpiece of Poetry

Robert W. Service, the renowned poet, has left an indelible mark on the world of literature with his exceptional works. Among his many poems, The Low-Down White stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of the human spirit. This poem is a powerful commentary on the human condition, and it is a testament to Service's skill as a poet.

The Low-Down White is a poem that tells the story of a man who is down on his luck. He is a "low-down white," a term that was used to describe a person who was considered to be of low social status. The man is homeless, and he is struggling to survive in a world that is hostile to him. He is a victim of circumstance, and he is forced to live a life of poverty and despair.

The poem begins with a description of the man's appearance. He is "ragged and dirty," and he is "thin as a rail." He is a pitiful sight, and it is clear that he has been through a lot. The poet paints a vivid picture of the man's suffering, and it is impossible not to feel empathy for him.

As the poem progresses, the man's story unfolds. We learn that he was once a successful businessman, but he lost everything due to a series of unfortunate events. He lost his job, his home, and his family, and he was left with nothing. He turned to alcohol to numb the pain, and he became a shadow of his former self.

Despite his circumstances, the man refuses to give up. He is determined to survive, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to make it through another day. He begs for money, he scavenges for food, and he sleeps in alleyways. He is a survivor, and his resilience is admirable.

The poem ends with a powerful message of hope. The poet reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is always a glimmer of hope. The man may be down on his luck, but he is not defeated. He is still alive, and he still has the strength to fight. The poet encourages us to never give up, no matter how difficult life may seem.

The Low-Down White is a poem that speaks to the human spirit. It is a reminder that no matter how difficult life may be, we can always find the strength to carry on. The man in the poem is a symbol of resilience, and his story is a testament to the power of the human spirit.

Service's use of language in this poem is exceptional. He uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of the man's suffering, and he uses powerful metaphors to convey the message of hope. The poem is written in a simple, yet powerful style that is easy to understand, yet deeply moving.

In conclusion, The Low-Down White is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of the human spirit. It is a powerful commentary on the human condition, and it is a testament to Service's skill as a poet. This poem is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always a glimmer of hope. It is a poem that should be read and appreciated by all who seek to understand the human experience.

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