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        Robert Service (1874-1958)

                MY MADONNA

    I haled me a woman from the street,
        Shameless, but, oh, so fair!
    I bade her sit in the model's seat
        And painted her sitting there.

    I hid all traces of her heart unclean;
        I painted a babe at her breast;
    I painted her as she might have been
        If the Worst had been the Best.

    She laughed at my picture and went away.
        Then came, with a knowing nod,
    A connoisseur, and I heard him say;
        "'Tis Mary, the Mother of God."

    So, I painted a halo round her hair,
        And I sold her and took my fee,
    And she hangs in the church of Saint Hillaire,
        Where you and all may see.


The above poem can be found, for example, in:
  • Service, Robert. The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses. New York: Barse & Hopkins Publishers, 1907.