Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Poem Review: Café Comedy by Robert William Service

Poems come in as many different themes as there are personalities that write them. The Café Comedy is a funny poem about dating and life. It discusses the deception of woman and the deception of man who finally find themselves interested in each other anyway. Both wanted one thing and both came away with another. The humor in the poem can relate to common dating experiences and this is part of the reason why we may find it funny.

The poem is written by Robert William Service who was born from a Scottish banker in 1874. He followed his father’s footsteps but decided to go into ranching with his brother instead (1). When that operation failed and he was out of money he applied for a bankers job and received a post in the frontier area that allowed for both quiet contemplation and social activity. He became an avid poet writer.

Humor comes with a personality trait. Both the writer and those who find a particular poem funny share some similarities in traits. A study of comedians found that they scored higher than others on verbal intelligence and humor production ability (Greengross, et. al. 2013). They also displayed openness, agreeableness, extraversion and intelligence. Their success was predicted by affiliative humor and impacted negatively by self-defeating humor.  

This poem describes a scenario in which the woman wants something and the man wants something but both are afraid to share honestly their age. If you have ever gone on a blind date and found yourself pleasantly surprised this poem will appeal to you. Perhaps you went on a blind date and found yourself shocked by the difference between what was said and what actually was. In today’s world we don’t send pictures we “Facebook” each other and of course those pictures are our best-bad pictures were long discarded.  Either way the poem is comical by nature and is enjoyable.

Café Comedy


I'm waiting for the man I hope to wed.
I've never seen him - that's the funny part.
I promised I would wear a rose of red,
Pinned on my coat above my fluttered heart,
So that he'd know me - a precaution wise,
Because I wrote him I was twenty-three,
And Oh such heaps and heaps of silly lies. . .
So when we meet what will he think of me?

It's funny, but it has its sorry side;
I put an advert. in the evening Press:
"A lonely maiden fain would be a bride."
Oh it was shameless of me, I confess.
But I am thirty-nine and in despair,
Wanting a home and children ere too late,
And I forget I'm no more young and fair -
I'll hide my rose and run...No, no, I'll wait.

An hour has passed and I am waiting still.
I ought to feel relieved, but I'm so sad.
I would have liked to see him, just to thrill,
And sigh and say: "There goes my lovely lad!
My one romance!" Ah, Life's malign mishap!
"Garcon, a cafè creme." I'll stay till nine. . .
The cafè's empty, just an oldish chap
Who's sitting at the table next to mine. . .


I'm waiting for the girl I mean to wed.
She was to come at eight and now it's nine.
She'd pin upon her coat a rose of red,
And I would wear a marguerite in mine.
No sign of her I see...It's true my eyes
Need stronger glasses than the ones I wear,
But Oh I feel my heart would recognize
Her face without the rose - she is so fair.

Ah! what deceivers are we aging men!
What vanity keeps youthful hope aglow!
Poor girl! I sent a photo taken when
I was a student, twenty years ago.
(Hers is so Springlike, Oh so blossom sweet!)
How she will shudder when she sees me now!
I think I'd better hide that marguerite -
How can I age and ugliness avow?

She does not come. It's after nine o'clock.
What fools we fogeys are! I'll try to laugh;
(Garcon, you might bring me another bock)
Falling in love, just from a photograph.
Well, that's the end. I'll go home and forget,
Then realizing I am over ripe
I'll throw away this silly cigarette
And philosophically light my pipe.

The waiter brought the coffee and the beer,
And there they sat, so woe-begone a pair,
And seemed to think: "Why do we linger here?"
When suddenly they turned, to start and stare.
She spied a marguerite, he glimpsed a rose;
Their eyes were joined and in a flash they knew. . .
The sleepy waiter saw, when time to close,
The sweet romance of those deceiving two,
Whose lips were joined, their hearts, their future too.

Greengross, G. et. al. (2012). Personality traits, intelligence, humor styles, and humor production ability of professional stand-up comedians compared to college students. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 6 (1).

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