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Robert Service

Canadian poet and writer


Just have one more try - it's dead easy to die,
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

Oh it is good to ride and run,
To roam the reenwood
wild and free;
To hunt, to idle in the sun,
To leap into the laughing sea
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

I count each day a little life,
With birth and death complete;
I cloister it from care and strife
And keep it sane and sweet.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

Marriage is a bachelor’s punishment for his sins
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

The world is full of scribbling Nobodies
who think they’re scribbling Somebodies.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

Dignity is a tin god in the temple of bunk.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

After fifty don’t go to a funeral if you can avoid it.
It’s bad enough to go to your own when times comes.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

Wisdom is peace, peace wisdom.
Both are born of a humble heart and a nourished gratitude.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

Nature is the nest professor in the end.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

Some praise the Lord for Light,
The living spark;
I thank God for the Night
The healing dark.
*ServiceWise & OtherWise (1942)

  • There's the wretched rent to pay,
    Yet I glower at pen and ink:
    Oh, inspire me, Muse, I pray,
    It is later than you think!
  • "It's coming soon and soon, mother, it's nearer every day,
    When only men who work and sweat will have a word to say;
    When all who earn their honest bread in every land and soil
    Will claim the Brotherhood of Man, the Comradeship of Toil;
    When we, the Workers, all demand: `What are we fighting for?' . . .
    Then, then we'll end that stupid crime, that devil's madness -- War."
    • Ballads of a Bohemian (1921), Michael
  • Mud is mankind in the moulding,
    Heaven's mystery unfolding

The Law of the Yukon (1907)Edit

  • This is the law of the Yukon, and ever she makes it plain:
    "Send not your foolish and feeble; send me your strong and your sane --
    Strong for the red rage of battle; sane for I harry them sore;
    Send me men girt for the combat, men who are grit to the core
  • Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway;
    From my ruthless throne I have ruled alone for a million years and a day
  • This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong shall thrive;
    That surely the Weak shall perish, and only the Fit survive.
    Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied and slain,
    This is the Will of the Yukon, -- Lo, how she makes it plain!

The Shooting of Dan McGrew (1907)Edit

  • A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
    The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a rag-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.
  • 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 helf-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.
  • 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.

The Cremation of Sam McGeeEdit

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights
  • 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 a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
  • 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.

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