The Men That Don’t Fit In

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.

Robert Service (1874 – 1958)

I’ve been a fan of Service for quite a long time–in fact one of my old roommates and I once memorized The Cremation of Sam McGee, and used to declaim it on random social occasions; it’s a poem that demands performance–but today was the first time I encountered this particular poem. I really, really like it. So I’ll share it with you guys.

  8 comments for “The Men That Don’t Fit In

  1. November 21, 2009 at 2:23 am

    One of the few books I’ve carried around since childhood—as in, out of maybe five books—is a collection of Robert Service poems. That’s among my favorites.

    In a very different vein, and much of the reason I love the guy: “Pullman Porter.” If you don’t have it, it’s here:

    • December 8, 2009 at 12:30 am

      That one’s pretty great too in, as you say, a very different way.

      My daughter at the age of three had heard the tale of Sam McGee, but I don’t think she could have told it then. That porter’s got me beaten as well.

  2. Kira
    December 5, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    That’s lovely.

  3. khadija
    December 18, 2011 at 7:15 am

    this poem says that there are some people in this world who that they cant relax at a single place so the just break the hearts of there family and friend and just roam around the world on there will they come across fields and floods , they climb mountains , inborn they are independent , freedom and just go to places and places and they dont know how to rest .they keep on moving and maybe go too far they are stronge brave and trueang get tired of thing that are and want to see and discover new things everytime that say” if they find a proper place to live it would be a great achivement they would make so they so they keep in changing on each new place and its onlt there new mistake .
    they forget evrything and just keep moving with a great sporadic pace they are steady silent and fast who win in th race of life . they forget that there youth has past and getting old they stand an stay stronge till the day the are dead in the wither of truth they last . he has fail again and missed a chanceand kept it incomplete life is a joke for them and now its there time to laugh , haha , he has lost now an d become one of the Legion lost , he never ment to win , he is just like a rolling ston which has eroded from places to places ! , HE IS A MAN THAT DONT FIT IN !
    Khadija .
    Singapore 😀

    • khadija
      December 18, 2011 at 7:18 am

      please give me ur feedback on my e-mail ! 😀

    • Farwa
      October 9, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Awesome ****

  4. khadija
    December 18, 2011 at 7:17 am

    please give me ur feedback for the above summary by me (khadija) on my e-mail .

  5. khadija
    December 18, 2011 at 7:17 am

    please give me ur feedback for the above summary by me (khadija) on my e-mail .

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada
This work by Chris McLaren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada.