[Skip Navigation]

Poetry Archives

A continuing selection of classic and contemporary poems.

Compensation Pete

Robert Service

He used to say: There ain’t a doubt
Misfortune is a bitter pill,
But if you only pry it out
You’ll find there’s good in every ill.
There’s comfort in the worst of woe,
There’s consolation in defeat . . .
Oh what a solace-seeker! So
We called him Compensation Pete.

He lost his wealth—but was he pipped?
Why no—”That’s fine,” he used to say.
“I’ve got the government plumb gypped—
No more damn income tax to pay.
From cares of property set free,
And with no pesky social ties,
Why, even poverty may be
A benediction in disguise.”

He lost his health: “Okay,” he said;
“I’m getting on, may be the best.
I’ve always loved to lie abed,
And now I have the right to rest.
Such heaps o’ things I want to do,
I’ll have no time to fret or brood.
I’ll read the dam ol’ Bible through:
Guess it’ll do me plenty good.”

He has that line of sunny shine
That makes a blessing of a curse,
And he would say: “Don’t let’s repine,
Though things are bad they might be worse.”
And so he cherished to the end
Philosophy so sane and sweet
That everybody was his friend . . .
With optimism hard to beat—
God bless old Compensation Pete.
Online text © 1998-2014 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Rhymes of a Roughneck
Add Keyword Tags

Separate each tag with a space. You may add as many tags as you'd like to each poem.

What are tags?
Tags, sometimes called “folksonomies,” are words that describe or categorize a poem, like “20th century modernism” or “Italian sonnet”. Tags can help you find poems that have something in common, based on how other people classify them.

More Info

This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any Internet device.