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There are strange things done in the midnight sun
     By the men who moil for gold;
  The Arctic trails have their secret tales
     That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
     But the queerest they ever did see
  Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
     I cremated Sam McGee.

Robert Service (1874-1958), an inveterate traveler and adventure seeker, was born in England and grew up in Scotland. 

Service yearned to be a cowboy.  He arrived in Canada the same year that gold was found in the Klondike, and did hire on as a cowboy for a bit on Vancouver Island. But soon he returned to the job he had trained forbanking and that work led him eventually to the Yukon, when his bank transferred him there.

There he wrote stories of the prospectors and poems such as "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee." His work met with immediate acclaim and his poetry remains widely read and performed.

Some of the tales he told were colored by his life in the West among cowboys, and the strong rhyme and meter of his work have inspired many cowboy poets.


Poems

Books

Links and More

 

The Robert Service in Person; The Bard of the Yukon CD, includes Robert Service reciting "The Spell of the Yukon," "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," and "The Cremation of Sam McGee." The 1948 recordings were discovered by radio broadcaster Gene Kern, who introduces the recordings on the CD and tells how they came to be.

"The Cremation of Sam McGee" from the recording is included on the 2008 edition of The BAR-D Roundup.

Read more about the CD below and a special offer for CowboyPoetry.com visitors

Robert Service's poems are widely available in books and on the internet.  See the links and books sections below on this page for more information.  Our first four selections on this page come from two Hancock House volumes, The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew, reprinted with their kind permission. 

Click for Hancock House     Click for Hancock House


Poems 

The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill 
I took a contract to bury the body... 

The Ballad of Hard Luck Henry 
Now wouldn't you expect to find... 

The Cremation of Sam McGee
There are strange things done in the midnight sun...

The Shooting of Dan McGrew
A bunch of the boys were whooping it up... 

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Anonymous
When at the sign: Anthology I climbed aboard the lyric bus...

The Ballad of One-Eyed Mike
This is the tale that was told to me by the man with the crystal eye...

The Cow-Juice Cure
The clover was in blossom, an' the year was at the June...

Dolls separate page
She said: "I am too old to play....

The Land of Beyond
Have ever you heard of the Land of Beyond...

The Men That Don't Fit In
There's a race of men that don't fit in...

My Masterpiece
It's slim and trim and bound in blue...

My Friends
The man above was a murderer, the man below was a thief...

The Parson's Son
This is the song of the parson's son...

The Quitter
When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child...

The Rhyme of the Restless Ones
We couldn't sit and study for the law...

Spell of the Yukon
I wanted the gold, and I sought it...

The Three Voices
The waves have a story to tell me...

The Trapper's Christmas Eve
It's mighty lonesome-like and drear...

 



 

The Cremation of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
     By the men who moil for gold;
  The Arctic trails have their secret tales
     That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
     But the queerest they ever did see
  Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
     I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, 
     where the cotton blooms and blows.
  Why he left his home in the South to roam
     'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold 
     seemed to hold him like a spell;
  Though he'd often say in his homely way 
     that he'd "sooner live in Hell."

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way 
     over the Dawson trail.
  Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold
      it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze 
     till sometimes we couldn't see,
  It wasn't much fun, but the only one
     to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight 
     in our robes beneath the snow,
  And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead 
     were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, 
     "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
  And if I do, I'm asking that you 
     won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; 
     then he says with a sort of moan,
  "It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold 
    till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread 
     of the icy grave that pains;
  So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, 
     you'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed, 
     so I swore I would not fail;
  And we started on at the streak of dawn; 
     but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day 
     of his home in Tennessee;
  And before nightfall a corpse was all 
     that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death, 
     and I hurried, horror-driven,
  With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, 
     because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: 
     "You may tax your brawn and brains,
  But you promised true, and it's up to you 
     to cremate these last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, 
     and the trail has its own stern code.
  In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, 
     in my heart how I cursed that load!
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, 
     while the huskies, round in a ring,
  Howled out their woes to the homeless snows --
     O God, how I loathed the thing!

And every day that quiet clay 
     seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
  And on I went, though the dogs were spent 
     and the grub was getting low.
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, 
     but I swore I would not give in;
  And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, 
     and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, 
     and a derelict there lay;
  It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice 
     it was called the Alice May.
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, 
     and I looked at my frozen chum;
  Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, 
     "is my cre-ma-tor-eum!"

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, 
     and I lit the boiler fire;
  Some coal I found that was lying around, 
     and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared -- 
     such a blaze you seldom see;
  And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, 
     and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like 
     to hear him sizzle so;
  And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, 
     and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled 
     down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
  And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak 
     went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow 
     I wrestled with grisly fear;
  But the stars came out and they danced about 
     ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said,
     "I'll just take a peep inside.
  I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked,"
     then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, 
     in the heart of the furnace roar;
  And he wore a smile you could see a mile, 
     and he said:  "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear 
     you'll let in the cold and storm --
  Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, 
     it's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
     By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
     The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
     Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee

Reprinted with permission from The Cremation of Sam McGee, Hancock House, 1989

A Wikipedia article here, with additional references, comments, in part:

Although the poem was fiction, it was based on people and things that Robert Service actually saw in the Yukon. The "Alice May" was based on the derelict sternwheeler the "Olive May" that belonged to the "BL&K" company and had originally been named for the wife and daughter of "Albert Sperry Kerry Sr." Lake Laberge is formed by a widening of the Yukon River just north of Whitehorse and is still in use by kayakers.

For a period, Robert Service lived with Dr. Sugden in Whitehorse who recounted to him about being sent out to tend to a sick prospector. When Dr. Sugden arrived at the prospector's cabin, he found the man dead and frozen stiff. Having no tools to bury him, Dr. Sugden cremated the prospector in the boiler of the Olive May and brought the ashes back to town....

Find additional information about this poem and recordings of the poem below.

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The Shooting of Dan McGrew
 

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up 
    in the Malamute saloon;
  The kid that handles the music-box
     was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, 
     sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
  And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, 
     the lady that's known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, 
     and into the din and the glare,
  There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, 
     dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave 
     and scarcely the strength of a louse,
  Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, 
     and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger's face,
     though we searched ourselves for a clue;
  But we drank his health, and the last to drink 
     was Dangerous Dan McGrew.

There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, 
     and hold them hard like a spell;
  And such was he, and he looked to me
     like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare
     of a dog whose day is done,
  As he watered the green stuff in his glass, 
     and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, 
     and wondering what he'd do,
  And I turned my head -- and there watching him
     was the lady that's known as Lou.

His eyes went rubbering round the room, 
     and he seemed in a kind of daze,
  Till at last that old piano fell 
     in the way of his wandering gaze.
The ragtime kid was having a drink; 
     there was no one else on the stool,
  So the stranger stumbles across the room, 
     and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt
     he sat, and I saw him sway;
  Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands 
     -- my God! but that man could play!

Were you ever out in the Great Alone, 
     when the moon was awful clear,
  And the icy mountains hemmed you in 
     with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, 
     and you camped there in the cold,
  A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, 
     clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, 
     the North Lights swept in bars? --
  Then you've a hunch what the music meant... 
     hunger and night and the stars.

And hunger not of the belly kind, 
     that's banished with bacon and beans,
  But the gnawing hunger of lonely men 
     for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, 
     four walls and a roof above;
  But oh! so cramful of cozy joy, 
      and crowned with a woman's love --
A woman dearer than all the world, 
     and true as Heaven is true...
  (God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge, --
     the lady that's known as Lou).

Then on a sudden the music changed, 
     so soft that you scarce could hear;
  But you felt that your life had been looted clean 
     of all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; 
     that her love was a devil's lie;
  That your guts were gone, and the best for you 
     was to crawl away and die.
'Twas the crowning cry of a heart's despair, 
     and it thrilled you through and through --
  "I guess I'll make it a spread misere," 
     said Dangerous Dan McGrew.

The music almost died away...
     then it burst like a pent-up flood;
  And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay," 
     and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, 
     and it stung like a frozen lash,
  And the lust awoke to kill, to kill... 
     then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned 
     in a most peculiar way;
  In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt 
     he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, 
     and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
  And "Boys," says he, "you don't know me, 
     and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, 
     and I'll bet my poke they're true,
  That one of you is a hound of hell...
     and that one is Dan McGrew."

Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, 
     and two guns blazed in the dark,
  And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, 
     and two men lay stiff and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, 
     was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
  While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast 
     of the lady that's known as Lou.

These are the simple facts of the case, 
     and I guess I ought to know.
  They say the stranger was crazed with "hooch," 
     and I'm not denying it's so.
I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, 
     but strictly between us two --
  The woman that kissed him -- and pinched his poke -- 
     was the lady that's known as Lou.

Reprinted with permission from The Shooting of Dan McGrew, Hancock House, 1989

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The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill 
 

I took a contract to bury the body
    of blasphemous Bill MacKie,
  Whenever, wherever or whatsoever 
    the manner of death he die--
Whether he die in the light o' day 
     or under the peak-faced moon;
  In cabin or dance-hall, camp or dive, 
     mucklucks or patent shoon;
On velvet tundra or virgin peak, 
     by glacier, drift or draw;
  In muskeg hollow or canyon gloom, 
     by avalanche, fang or claw;
By battle, murder or sudden wealth, 
     by pestilence, "hooch" or lead--
  I swore on the Book I would follow and look 
     till I found my tombless dead.

For Bill was a dainty kind of cuss, 
     and his mind was mighty sot
  On a dinky patch with flowers and grass 
     in a civilized boneyard lot.
And where he died or how he died, 
     it didn't matter a damn
  So long as he had a grave with frills 
     and a tombstone epigram.
So I promised him, and he paid the price 
     in good cheechako coin
  (Which the same I blowed in that very night 
     down in the Tenderloin).
Then I painted a three-foot slab of pine: 
     "Here lies poor Bill MacKie,"
  And I hung it up on my cabin wall 
     and I waited for Bill to die.

Years passed away, and at last one day
      came a squaw with a story strange,
  Of a long-deserted line of traps 
     'way back of the Bighorn range;
Of a little hut by the great divide, 
     and a white man stiff and still,
  Lying there by his lonesome self, 
     and I figured it must be Bill.
So I thought of the contract I'd made with him, 
     and I took down from the shelf
  The swell black box with the silver plate 
     he'd picked out for hisself;
And I packed it full of grub and "hooch", 
     and I slung it on the sleigh;
  Then I harnessed up my team of dogs 
     and was off at dawn of day.

You know what it's like in the Yukon wild 
     when it's sixty-nine below;
  When the ice-worms wriggle their purple heads 
     through the crust of the pale blue snow;
When the pine trees crack like little guns 
     in the silence of the wood,
  And the icicles hang down like tusks 
     under the parka hood;
When the stovepipe smoke breaks sudden off, 
     and the sky is weirdly lit,
  And the careless feel of a bit of steel 
     burns like a red-hot spit;
When the mercury is a frozen ball, 
     and the frost-fiend stalks to kill--
  Well, it was just like that that day 
     when I set out to look for Bill.

Oh, the awful hush that seemed to crush 
     me down on every hand,
  As I blundered blind with a trail to find 
     through that blank and bitter land;
Half dazed, half crazed in the winter wild, 
     with its grim heart-breaking woes,
  And the ruthless strife for a grip on life 
     that only the sourdough knows!
North by the compass, North I pressed; 
     river and peak and plain
  Passed like a dream I slept to lose 
     and I waked to dream again.

River and plain and mighty peak--
     and who could stand unawed?
  As their summits blazed, he could stand undazed 
     at the foot of the throne of God.
North, aye, North, through a land accurst, 
     shunned by the scouring brutes,
  And all I heard was my own harsh word 
     and the whine of the malamutes,
Till at last I came to a cabin squat, 
     built in the side of a hill,
  And I burst in the door, and there on the floor, 
     frozen to death, lay Bill.

Ice, white ice, like a winding-sheet, 
     sheathing each smoke-grimed wall;
  Ice on the stove-pipe, ice on the bed, 
     ice gleaming over all;
Sparkling ice on the dead man's chest, 
     glittering ice in his hair,
  Ice on his fingers, ice in his heart, 
     ice in his glassy stare;
Hard as a log and trussed like a frog, 
     with his arms and legs outspread.
  I gazed at the coffin I'd brought for him, 
     and I gazed at the gruesome dead,
And at last I spoke; "Bill liked his joke; 
     but still, goldarn his eyes,
  A man had ought to consider his mates 
     in the way he goes and dies."

Have you ever stood in an Arctic hut 
     in the shadow of the pole,
  With a little coffin six by three 
     and a grief you can't control?
Have you ever sat by a frozen corpse 
     that looks at you with a grin,
  And that seems to say: "You may try all day, 
     but you'll never jam me in?"
I'm not a man of the quitting kind, 
     but I never felt so blue
  As I sat there gazing at that stiff 
     and studying what I'd do.
Then I rose and I kicked off the husky dogs 
     that were nosing round about,
  And I lit a roaring fire in the stove, 
     and I started to thaw Bill out.

Well, I thawed and thawed for thirteen days, 
     but it didn't seem no good;
  His arms and legs stuck out like pegs, 
     as if they was made of wood.
Till at last I said: "It ain't no use--
     he's froze too hard to thaw;
  He's obstinate, and he won't lie straight, 
     so I guess I got to--saw."
So I sawed off poor Bill's arms and legs, 
     and I laid him snug and straight
  In the little coffin he picked hisself, 
     with the dinky silver plate;
And I came nigh near to shedding a tear 
     as I nailed him safely down;
  Then I stowed him away in my Yukon sleigh, 
     and I started back to town.

So I buried him as the contract called 
     in a narrow grave and deep,
  And there he's waiting the Great Clean-up, 
     when the Judgment sluice-heads sweep;
And I smoke my pipe and I meditate 
     in the light of the Midnight Sun,
  And sometimes I wonder if they was
     the awful things I done.
And as I sit and the parson talks, 
     expounding of the Law,
  I often think of poor old Bill--
     and how hard he was to saw.


Reprinted with permission from The Cremation of Sam McGee, Hancock House, 1989

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The Ballad of Hard Luck Henry 
 

Now wouldn't you expect to find 
     a man an awful crank
  That's staked out nigh three hundred claims, 
     and every one a blank;
That's followed every fool stampede, 
     and seen the rise and fall
  Of camps where men got gold in chunks 
     and he got none at all;
That's prospected a bit of ground 
     and sold it for a song
  To see it yield a fortune to 
     some fool that came along;
That's sunk a dozen bedrock holes, 
     and not a speck in sight,
  Yet sees them take a million 
     from the claims to left and right?
Now aren't things like that enough 
     to drive a man to booze?
  But Hard-Luck Smith was hoodoo-proof--
     he knew the way to lose.

'Twas in the fall of nineteen four--
     leap-year I've heard them say--
  When Hard-Luck came to Hunker Creek 
     and took a hillside lay.
And lo! as if to make amends 
     for all the futile past,
  Late in the year he struck it rich, 
     the real pay-streak at last.
The riffles of his sluicing-box 
     were choked with speckled earth,
  And night and day he worked that lay 
     for all that he was worth.
And when in chill December's gloom 
     his lucky lease expired,
  He found that he had made a stake 
     as big as he desired.

One day while meditating on 
     the waywardness of fate,
  He felt the ache of lonely man 
     to find a fitting mate;
A petticoated pard to cheer 
     his solitary life,
  A woman with soft, soothing ways, 
     a confidant, a wife.
And while he cooked his supper 
     on his little Yukon stove,
  He wished that he had staked a claim 
     in Love's rich treasure-trove;
When suddenly he paused and held 
     aloft a Yukon egg,
  For there in pencilled letters 
     was the magic name of Peg.

You know these Yukon eggs of ours--
     some pink, some green, some blue--
  A dollar per, assorted tints, assorted flavors too!
The supercilious cheechako 
     might designate them high,
  But one acquires a taste for them 
     and likes them by-and-by.
Well, Hard-Luck Henry took this egg 
     and held it to the light,
  And there was more faint pencilling 
     that sorely taxed his sight.
At last he made it out, and then 
     the legend ran like this--
  "Will Klondike miner write to Peg, 
     Plumhollow, Squashville, Wis.?"

That night he got to thinking of 
     this far-off, unknown fair;
  It seemed so sort of opportune, 
     an answer to his prayer.
She flitted sweetly through his dreams, 
     she haunted him by day,
  She smiled through clouds of nicotine, 
     she cheered his weary way.
At last he yielded to the spell; 
     his course of love he set--
  Wisconsin his objective point; 
     his object, Margaret.

With every mile of sea and land 
     his longing grew and grew.
  He practiced all his pretty words, 
     and these, I fear, were few.
At last, one frosty evening, 
      with a cold chill down his spine,
  He found himself before her house, 
     the threshold of the shrine.
His courage flickered to a spark, 
     then glowed with sudden flame.
  He knocked; he heard a welcome word; 
     she came--his goddess came!
Oh, she was fair as any flower, 
     and huskily he spoke:
  "I'm all the way from Klondike, with 
     a mighty heavy poke.
I'm looking for a lassie, one whose 
    Christian name is Peg,
  Who sought a Klondike miner, 
     and who wrote it on an egg."

The lassie gazed at him a space, 
     her cheeks grew rosy red;
  She gazed at him with tear-bright eyes, 
     then tenderly she said:
"Yes, lonely Klondike miner, 
     it is true my name is Peg.
  It's also true I longed for you 
     and wrote it on an egg.
My heart went out to someone in 
     that land of night and cold;
  But oh, I fear that Yukon egg 
     must have been mighty old.
I waited long, I hoped and feared; 
     you should have come before;
  I've been a wedded woman now 
     for eighteen months or more.
I'm sorry, since you've come so far, 
     you ain't the one that wins;
  But won't you take a step inside?--
     I'll let you see the twins!"

Reprinted with permission from The Cremation of Sam McGee, Hancock House, 1989

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The Parson's Son

This is the song of the parson's son, as he squats in his shack alone,
On the wild, weird nights, when the Northern Lights shoot up from the frozen zone,
And it's sixty below, and couched in the snow the hungry huskies moan:

"I'm one of the Arctic brotherhood, I'm an old-time pioneer.
I came with the first -- O God! how I've cursed this Yukon -- but still I'm here.
I've sweated athirst in its summer heat, I've frozen and starved in its cold;
I've followed my dreams by its thousand streams, I've toiled and moiled for its gold.

"Look at my eyes -- been snow-blind twice; look where my foot's half gone;
And that gruesome scar on my left cheek, where the frost-fiend bit to the bone.
Each one a brand of this devil's land, where I've played and I've lost the game,
A broken wreck with a craze for hooch, and never a cent to my name.

"This mining is only a gamble; the worst is as good as the best;
I was in with the bunch and I might have come out right on top with the rest;
With Cormack, Ladue and Macdonald -- O God! but it's hell to think 
Of the thousands and thousands I've squandered on cards and women and drink.

"In the early days we were just a few, and we hunted and fished around,
Nor dreamt by our lonely camp-fires of the wealth that lay under the ground.
We traded in skins and whiskey, and I've often slept under the shade
Of that lone birch tree on Bonanza, where the first big find was made.

"We were just like a great big family, and every man had his squaw,
And we lived such a wild, free, fearless life beyond the pale of the law;
Till sudden there came a whisper, and it maddened us every man,
And I got in on Bonanza before the big rush began.

"Oh, those Dawson days, and the sin and the blaze, and the town all open wide!
(If God made me in His likeness, sure He let the devil inside.)
But we all were mad, both the good and the bad, and as for the women, well --
No spot on the map in so short a space has hustled more souls to hell.

"Money was just like dirt there, easy to get and to spend.
I was all caked in on a dance-hall jade, but she shook me in the end.
It put me queer, and for near a year I never drew sober breath,
Till I found myself in the bughouse ward with a claim staked out on death.

"Twenty years in the Yukon, struggling along its creeks;
Roaming its giant valleys, scaling its god-like peaks;
Bathed in its fiery sunsets, fighting its fiendish cold --
Twenty years in the Yukon . . . twenty years -- and I'm old.

"Old and weak, but no matter, there's `hooch' in the bottle still.
I'll hitch up the dogs to-morrow, and mush down the trail to Bill.
It's so long dark, and I'm lonesome -- I'll just lay down on the bed;
To-morrow I'll go . . . to-morrow . . . I guess I'll play on the red.

"...Come, Kit, your pony is saddled. I'm waiting, dear, in the court...
...Minnie, you devil, I'll kill you if you skip with that flossy sport...
...How much does it go to the pan, Bill?... play up, School, and play the game...
...Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name..."

This was the song of the parson's son, as he lay in his bunk alone,
Ere the fire went out and the cold crept in, and his blue lips ceased to moan,
And the hunger-maddened malamutes had torn him flesh from bone.

     from The Spell of the Yukon

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The Quitter

When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
 And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
 To cock your revolver and... die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
 And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow...
 It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.

"You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame.
 You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know -- but don't squeal,
 Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
 So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
 It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.

It's easy to cry that you're beaten -- and die;
 It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight --
 Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
 All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try -- it's dead easy to die,
 It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.

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The Trapper's Christmas Eve

It's mighty lonesome-like and drear.
Above the Wild the moon rides high,
And shows up sharp and needle-clear
The emptiness of earth and sky;
No happy homes with love a-glow;
No Santa Claus to make believe:
Just snow and snow, and then more snow;
It's Christmas Eve, it's Christmas Eve.

And here am I where all things end,
And Undesirables are hurled;
A poor old man without a friend,
Forgot and dead to all the world;
Clean out of sight and out of mind . . .
Well, maybe it is better so;
We all in life our level find,
And mine, I guess, is pretty low.

Yet as I sit with pipe alight
Beside the cabin-fire, it's queer
This mind of mine must take to-night
The backward trail of fifty year.
The school-house and the Christmas tree;
The children with their cheeks a-glow;
Two bright blue eyes that smile on me . . .
Just half a century ago.

Again (it's maybe forty years),
With faith and trust almost divine,
These same blue eyes, abrim with tears,
Through depths of love look into mine.
A parting, tender, soft and low,
With arms that cling and lips that cleave . . .
Ah me! it's all so long ago,
Yet seems so sweet this Christmas Eve.

Just thirty years ago, again . . .
We say a bitter, last good-bye;
Our lips are white with wrath and pain;
Our little children cling and cry.
Whose was the fault? it matters not,
For man and woman both deceive;
It's buried now and all forgot,
Forgiven, too, this Christmas Eve.

And she (God pity me) is dead;
Our children men and women grown.
I like to think that they are wed,
With little children of their own,
That crowd around their Christmas tree . . .
I would not ever have them grieve,
Or shed a single tear for me,
To mar their joy this Christmas Eve.

Stripped to the buff and gaunt and still
Lies all the land in grim distress.
Like lost soul wailing, long and shrill,
A wolf-howl cleaves the emptiness.
Then hushed as Death is everything.
The moon rides haggard and forlorn . . .
"O hark the herald angels sing!"
God bless all men -- it's Christmas morn.

Robert Service, from The Spell of the Yukon

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Anonymous

When at the sign: Anthology
I climbed aboard the lyric bus,
The poems that appeal to me
Are often by Anonymous.
Behold amid the classic crew
Is one of whom Fame made no fuss,
A rhyming rascal no one knew,--Anonymous.

My name's a dud: 'mid poets I'm
A leek among asparagus;
Yet let me make a lilt of rhyme
And publish it anonymous;
Sweet, simple, short, a snatch of song
Anthologists might prize, and thus
My lyric life I might prolong,--Anonymous.

So when senile and all forgot
My memory is minimus,
In some anthology new-bought
I'll read a rhyme anonymous:
A saucy air that pleaseth me,
And I will say: "Who is this cuss?"
And wonder: "Are you he or she,--Anonymous?"

(Thanks to Gene O'Quinn for leading us to this poem and to The Original Home Page of Robert Service for their kind permission to post it.)

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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.

From The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses

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The Cow-Juice Cure

The clover was in blossom, an' the year was at the June,
When Flap-jack Billy hit the town, likewise O'Flynn's saloon.
The frost was on the fodder an' the wind was growin' keen,
When Billy got to seein' snakes in Sullivan's shebeen.

Then in meandered Deep-hole Dan, once comrade of the cup:
"Oh Billy, for the love of Mike, why don't ye sober up?
I've got the gorgus recipay, 'tis smooth an' slick as silk --
Jest quit yer strangle-holt on hooch, an' irrigate with milk.

"Lackteeal flooid is the lubrication you require;
Yer nervus frame-up's like a bunch of snarled piano wire.
You want to get it coated up with addypose tishoo,
So's it will work elastic-like, an' milk's the dope for you."

Well, Billy was complyable, an' in a month it's strange,
That cow-juice seemed to oppyrate a most amazin' change.
"Call up the water-wagon, Dan, an' book my seat," sez he.
"'Tis mighty queer," sez Deep-hole Dan, "'twas just the same with me."

They shanghaied little Tim O'Shane, they cached him safe away,
An' though he objurgated some, they "cured" him night an' day;
An' pretty soon there came the change amazin' to explain:
"I'll never take another drink," sez Timothy O'Shane.

They tried it out on Spike Muldoon, that toper of renown;
They put it over Grouch McGraw, the terror of the town.
They roped in "tanks" from far and near, an' every test was sure,
An' like a flame there ran the fame of Deep-hole's Cow-juice Cure.

"It's mighty queer," sez Deep-hole Dan, "I'm puzzled through and through;
It's only milk from Riley's ranch, no other milk will do."
An' it jest happened on that night with no predictive plan,
He left some milk from Riley's ranch a-settin' in a pan;

An' picture his amazement when he poured that milk next day --
There in the bottom of the pan a dozen "colours" lay.
"Well, what d'ye know 'bout that," sez Dan; "Gosh ding my dasted eyes,
We've been an' had the Gold Cure, Bill, an' none of us was wise.

The milk's free-millin' that's a cinch; there's colours everywhere.
Now, let us figger this thing out -- how does the dust git there?
`Gold from the grass-roots down', they say -- why, Bill! we've got it cold --
Them cows what nibbles up the grass, jest nibbles up the gold.

We're blasted, bloomin' millionaires; dissemble an' lie low:
We'll follow them gold-bearin' cows, an' prospect where they go."
An' so it came to pass, fer weeks them miners might be found
A-sneakin' round on Riley's ranch, an' snipin' at the ground;

Till even Riley stops an' stares, an' presently allows:
"Them boys appear to take a mighty interest in cows."
An' night an' day they shadowed each auriferous bovine,
An' panned the grass-roots on their trail, yet nivver gold they seen.

An' all that season, secret-like, they worked an' nothin' found;
An' there was colours in the milk, but none was in the ground.
An' mighty desperate was they, an' down upon their luck,
When sudden, inspiration like, the source of it they struck.

An' where d'ye think they traced it to? it grieves my heart to tell --
In the black sand at the bottom of that wicked milkman's well.


From Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912

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The Land Of Beyond

Have ever you heard of the Land of Beyond,
That dreams at the gates of the day?
Alluring it lies at the skirts of the skies,
And ever so far away;
Alluring it calls: O ye the yoke galls,
And ye of the trail overfond,
With saddle and pack, by paddle and track,
Let's go to the Land of Beyond!

Have ever you stood where the silences brood,
And vast the horizons begin,
At the dawn of the day to behold far away
The goal you would strive for and win?
Yet ah! in the night when you gain to the height,
With the vast pool of heaven star-spawned,
Afar and agleam, like a valley of dream,
Still mocks you a Land of Beyond.

Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond
For us who are true to the trail;
A vision to seek, a beckoning peak,
A farness that never will fail;
A pride in our soul that mocks at a goal,
A manhood that irks at a bond,
And try how we will, unattainable still,
Behold it, our Land of Beyond!


From Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912

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The Ballad of One-Eyed Mike

This is the tale that was told to me by the man with the crystal eye,
As I smoked my pipe in the camp-fire light, and the Glories swept the sky;
As the Northlights gleamed and curved and streamed, and the bottle of "hooch" was dry.

A man once aimed that my life be shamed, and wrought me a deathly wrong;
   I vowed one day I would well repay, but the heft of his hate was strong.
He thonged me East and he thonged me West; he harried me back and forth,
    Till I fled in fright from his peerless spite to the bleak, bald-headed North.

And there I lay, and for many a day I hatched plan after plan,
   For a golden haul of the wherewithal to crush and to kill my man;
And there I strove, and there I clove through the drift of icy streams;
   And there I fought, and there I sought for the pay-streak of my dreams.

So twenty years, with their hopes and fears and smiles and tears and such,
   Went by and left me long bereft of hope of the Midas touch;
About as fat as a chancel rat, and lo! despite my will,
   In the weary fight I had clean lost sight of the man I sought to kill.

'Twas so far away, that evil day when I prayed to the Prince of Gloom
   For the savage strength and the sullen length of life to work his doom.
Nor sign nor word had I seen or heard, and it happed so long ago;
    My youth was gone and my memory wan, and I willed it even so.

It fell one night in the waning light by the Yukon's oily flow,
   I smoked and sat as I marvelled at the sky's port-winey glow;
Till it paled away to an absinthe gray, and the river seemed to shrink,
   All wobbly flakes and wriggling snakes and goblin eyes a-wink.

'Twas weird to see and it 'wildered me in a queer, hypnotic dream,
   Till I saw a spot like an inky blot come floating down the stream;
It bobbed and swung; it sheered and hung; it romped round in a ring;
   It seemed to play in a tricksome way; it sure was a merry thing.

In freakish flights strange oily lights came fluttering round its head,
   Like butterflies of a monster size--then I knew it for the Dead.
Its face was rubbed and slicked and scrubbed as smooth as a shaven pate;
   In the silver snakes that the water makes it gleamed like a dinner-plate.

It gurgled near, and clear and clear and large and large it grew;
   It stood upright in a ring of light and it looked me through and through.
It weltered round with a woozy sound, and ere I could retreat,
   With the witless roll of a sodden soul it wantoned to my feet.

And here I swear by this Cross I wear, I heard that "floater" say:
   "I am the man from whom you ran, the man you sought to slay.
That you may note and gaze and gloat, and say `Revenge is sweet,'
   In the grit and grime of the river's slime I am rotting at your feet.

"The ill we rue we must e'en undo, though it rive us bone from bone;
   So it came about that I sought you out, for I prayed I might atone.
I did you wrong, and for long and long I sought where you might live;
   And now you're found, though I'm dead and drowned, I beg you to forgive."

So sad it seemed, and its cheek-bones gleamed, and its fingers flicked the shore;
   And it lapped and lay in a weary way, and its hands met to implore;
That I gently said: "Poor, restless dead, I would never work you woe;
   Though the wrong you rue you can ne'er undo, I forgave you long ago."

Then, wonder-wise, I rubbed my eyes and I woke from a horrid dream.
   The moon rode high in the naked sky, and something bobbed in the stream.
It held my sight in a patch of light, and then it sheered from the shore;
   It dipped and sank by a hollow bank, and I never saw it more.

This was the tale he told to me, that man so warped and gray,
Ere he slept and dreamed, and the camp-fire gleamed in his eye in a wolfish way--
That crystal eye that raked the sky in the weird Auroral ray.

From Ballads of a Cheechako, 1909

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The Three Voices

The waves have a story to tell me,
As I lie on the lonely beach;
Chanting aloft in the pine-tops,
The wind has a lesson to teach;
But the stars sing an anthem of glory
I cannot put into speech.

The waves tell of ocean spaces,
Of hearts that are wild and brave,
Of populous city places,
Of desolate shores they lave,
Of men who sally in quest of gold
To sink in an ocean grave.

The wind is a mighty roamer;
He bids me keep me free,
Clean from the taint of the gold-lust,
Hardy and pure as he;
Cling with my love to nature,
As a child to the mother-knee.

But the stars throng out in their glory,
And they sing of the God in man;
They sing of the Mighty Master,
Of the loom his fingers span,
Where a star or a soul is a part of the whole,
And weft in the wondrous plan.

Here by the camp-fire's flicker,
Deep in my blanket curled,
I long for the peace of the pine-gloom,
When the scroll of the Lord is unfurled,
And the wind and the wave are silent,
And world is singing to world.

From The Spell of the Yukon

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My Masterpiece

It's slim and trim and bound in blue;
Its leaves are crisp and edged with gold;
Its words are simple, stalwart too;
Its thoughts are tender, wise and bold.
Its pages scintillate with wit;
Its pathos clutches at my throat:
Oh, how I love each line of it!
That Little Book I Never Wrote.

In dreams I see it praised and prized
By all, from plowman unto peer;
It's pencil-marked and memorized,
It's loaned (and not returned, I fear);
It's worn and torn and travel-tossed,
And even dusky natives quote
That classic that the world has lost,
The Little Book I Never Wrote.

Poor ghost! For homes you've failed to cheer,
For grieving hearts uncomforted,
Don't haunt me now...Alas! I fear
The fire of Inspiration's dead.
A humdrum way I go to-night,
From all I hoped and dreamed remote:
Too late...a better man must write
That Little Book I Never Wrote.

From Ballads of a Bohemian

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My Friends

The man above was a murderer, the man below was a thief;
And I lay there in the bunk between, ailing beyond belief;
A weary armful of skin and bone, wasted with pain and grief.

My feet were froze, and the lifeless toes were purple and green and gray;
The little flesh that clung to my bones, you could punch it in holes like clay;
The skin on my gums was a sullen black, and slowly peeling away.

I was sure enough in a direful fix, and often I wondered why
They did not take the chance that was left and leave me alone to die,
Or finish me off with a dose of dope—so utterly lost was I.

But no; they brewed me the green-spruce tea, and nursed me there like a child;
And the homicide he was good to me, and bathed my sores and smiled;
And the thief he starved that I might be fed, and his eyes were kind and mild.

Yet they were woefully wicked men, and often at night in pain
I heard the murderer speak of his deed and dream it over again;
I heard the poor thief sorrowing for the dead self he had slain.

I'll never forget that bitter dawn, so evil, askew and gray,
When they wrapped me round in the skins of beasts and they bore me to a sleigh,
And we started out with the nearest post an hundred miles away.

I'll never forget the trail they broke, with its tense, unuttered woe;
And the crunch, crunch, crunch as their snowshoes sank through the crust of the hollow snow;
And my breath would fail, and every beat of my heart was like a blow.

And oftentimes I would die the death, yet wake up to life anew;
The sun would be all ablaze on the waste, and the sky a blighting blue,
And the tears would rise in my snow-blind eyes and furrow my cheeks like dew.

And the camps we made when their strength outplayed and the day was pinched and wan;
And oh, the joy of that blessed halt, and how I did dread the dawn;
And how I hated the weary men who rose and dragged me on.

And oh, how I begged to rest, to rest—the snow was so sweet a shroud;
And oh, how I cried when they urged me on, cried and cursed them aloud;
Yet on they strained, all racked and pained, and sorely their backs were bowed.

And then it was all like a lurid dream, and I prayed for a swift release
From the ruthless ones who would not leave me to die alone in peace;
Till I wakened up and I found myself at the post of the Mounted Police.

And there was my friend the murderer, and there was my friend the thief,
With bracelets of steel around their wrists, and wicked beyond belief:
But when they come to God's judgment seat—may I be allowed the brief.

From Ballads of a Cheechako

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Spell of the Yukon

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
   I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
   I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it—
   Came out with a fortune last fall,—
Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,
   And somehow the gold isn't all.

No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
   It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
   To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
   Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some as would trade it
   For no land on earth—and I'm one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason);
   You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
   And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
   It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it's been since the beginning;
   It seems it will be to the end.

I've stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
   That's plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I've watched the big, husky sun wallow
   In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
   And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I've thought that I surely was dreaming,
  With the peace o' the world piled on top.

The summer—no sweeter was ever;
   The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
   The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
   The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness—
   O God! how I'm stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
   The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
   The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
   The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
   I've bade 'em good-by—but I can't.

There's a land where the mountains are nameless,
   And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
   And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
   There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There's a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,
   And I want to go back—and I will.

They're making my money diminish;
   I'm sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I'm skinned to a finish
   I'll pike to the Yukon again.
I'll fight—and you bet it's no sham-fight;
   It's hell!— but I've been there before;
And it's better than this by a damsite—
   So me for the Yukon once more.

There's gold, and it's haunting and haunting;
   It's luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting
   So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
   It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
   It's the stillness that fills me with peace.

From Spell of the Yukon

A May, 1908 review of Service's book, Spell of the Yukon, in the New York Times in Christian Gauss' "Contemporaneous Verse" column comments:

...His meters are jagged often, life a ragged sword edge, but they are so designedly, and his command of language is adequate. Whoever wishes to feel a new thrill and a new horror should read "The Spell of the Yukon." It is brutal in its masculinity, downright vicious and defiant often. The Yukon to him is the land "where the silences are spawned," "the land that listens, the land that broods," there "the valleys gulp the night" and "the peaks tusk the skies"...This is not the highest aim of art, perhaps not even a high one, and though we should be sorry to see the school which Mr. Service represents prevail and stand forth as the typical exponent of our contemporary life, it is a significant fact that just now work in this genre seems to be meeting with the fullest success.

Several years later, in 1912, a column "Among the Authors," reports on Service's next book:

Robert D. Service, the young Canadian who wrote a "best seller" of verse entitled "The Spell of the Yukon," has just arrived in New York to look after the publication of a new volume of his poems, to be called "Rhymes of a Rolling Stone." Mr. Service has been something of a rolling stone himself since the publication of his last book. Among other interesting trips he made one of 3,000 miles to a country which is as desolate and thinly populated as is to be found anywhere on the globe. Leaving Edmonton, in Northern Alberta, he traveled northward up the Athabaska and Slave Rivers to Great Slave Lake, and thence voyaged down the tremendous Mackenzie River to its outlet in the Arctic Ocean. From there he turned westward into Alaska, and after weeks of hard and dangerous traveling reached his home in Dawson City. During this entire journey of about 3,000 miles he met barely a score of white men. He was in imminent danger of drowning more than once, and suffered the pangs of starvation. At one time Mr. Service and his party subsisted for about ten days entirely on scanty rations of bread made from flour and water. These incidents, however, he says, are the regular accompaniments of a trip trough the barren lands of Northern Canada and Alaska.

 

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The Rhyme of the Restless Ones

We couldn't sit and study for the law;
      The stagnation of a bank we couldn't stand;
For our riot blood was surging, and we didn't need much urging
      To excitements and excesses that are banned.
So we took to wine and drink and other things,
      And the devil in us struggled to be free;
Till our friends rose up in wrath, and they pointed out the path,
      And they paid our debts and packed us o'er the sea.

Oh, they shook us off and shipped us o'er the foam,
To the larger lands that lure a man to roam;
      And we took the chance they gave
      Of a far and foreign grave,
And we bade good-by for evermore to home.

And some of us are climbing on the peak,
      And some of us are camping on the plain;
By pine and palm you'll find us, with never claim to bind us,
      By track and trail you'll meet us once again.

We are the fated serfs to freedom—sky and sea;
      We have failed where slummy cities overflow;
But the stranger ways of earth know our pride and know our worth,
      And we go into the dark as fighters go.

Yes, we go into the night as brave men go,
Though our faces they be often streaked with woe;
      Yet we're hard as cats to kill,
      And our hearts are reckless still,
And we've danced with death a dozen times or so.

And you'll find us in Alaska after gold,
      And you'll find us herding cattle in the South.
We like strong drink and fun, and, when the race is run,
      We often die with curses in our mouth.
We are wild as colts unbroke, but never mean.
      Of our sins we've shoulders broad to bear the blame;
But we'll never stay in town and we'll never settle down,
      And we'll never have an object or an aim.

No, there's that in us that time can never tame;
And life will always seem a careless game;
      And they'd better far forget—
      Those who say they love us yet—
Forget, blot out with bitterness our name.

From Spell of the Yukon

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Links and more ...

 

Singer and songwriter Michael Marra narrates the poem throughout the first part of the 70-minute CD, which also includes an additional all-instrumental presentation of the music. Other musicians include fiddlers Bruce MacGregor and Sidan O'Rourke, Kevin Murphy on guitar and mandolin, Rick Taylor on trombone, Kevin McGuire on bass, Brian McAlpine on piano and accordion, and James Mackintosh on percussion.

Originally from Alberta, Hanson moved to the British Isles several years ago. A commission from the New Voices project of the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow (she was the first non-Scot to receive a commission) gave her the opportunity to create The Cremation of Sam McGee.  Read a June, 2006 Edmonton Journal article, "Cellist wins praise for adaptation of Service poem" by Roger Levesque for more about Christine Hanson and her work.  (See our feature on Robert Service here, including the poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee).

Christine Hanson's The Creation of Sam McGee is available for $21.99 US postpaid, from Christine Hanson's web site: www.christinehanson.com; info@christinehanson.com. Visit Christine Hanson's MySpace site: www.myspace.com/christineantoinette.

 

Service's Books

Service was a prolific writer, with over 1000 poems and more than 45 books of verse to his credit. He also wrote novels and two autobiographical books.  Movies were made from his poem "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and several of his novels.

The versions of his poems on this page are from two volumes from Hancock House. Those books' back covers give a good introduction to Service and to their books:

Robert Service started out as a bank teller, but that changed dramatically in 1904 when his bank transferred him to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.  Like everybody else, Service was smitten with the gold fever of the great Klondike gold rush.  Only Service mined words, not gold, and within five years was famous as the poet who had captured the essence of the fever, the adventure, the men, and the women.  Hancock House Publishers brings back the best of Service in two softcover volumes: The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam McGee.  The magic of the words is beautifully captured by award-winning artist Marken Van Nimwegen.

Click for Hancock House     Click for Hancock House

Hancock House publishes other western history and poetry, including the works of our Honored Guests Mike Puhallo and Brian Brannon.

This incomplete list of his books is compiled from the holdings of the Library of Congress: 

Spell of the Yukon, and Other Verses, 1907
Ballads of a Cheechako, 1909
Trail of '98; a Northland Romance, 1911
Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912
Pretender; a Story of the Latin Quarter, 1914
Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, 1916
Complete Poetical Works of Robert W. Service, 1921
Ballads of a Bohemian, 1921
Roughneck, 1923
Master of the Microbe: a Fantastic Romance, 1926
House of Fear; 1927
Why Not Grow Young?, or, Living for Longevity, 1928
Collected Verse of Robert Service, 1930
Bar-Room Ballads, 1940
Complete Poems of Robert Service, 1942
Ploughman of the Moon; an Adventure into Memory, 1945  (autobiography)
Harper of Heaven, a Record of Radiant Living, 1948  (autobiography)
Songs of a Sun-lover : a Book of Light Verse, 1949
Rhymes of a Roughneck, 1950
Lyrics of a Low Brow, 1951
Rhymes of a Rebel, 1952
Best of Robert Service, 1953
Carols of an Old Codger, 1954
Rhymes for My Rags, 1956

There are collections of Service's poetry in print.  We recommend these two volumes from Hancock House:

Click for Hancock House  The Shooting of Dan McGrew and other poems

Click for Hancock House  The Cremation of Sam McGee and other poems

 

And this collection available from Amazon (along with other titles):

Click for Amazon  The Collected Poems of Robert Service   

 

 

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