Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

The Cremation of Sam McGee -- Robert Service

(Poem #698) 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
 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
 "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 those 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

 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
 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-ium."

 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
 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
 It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know
 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

 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
 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

        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
 From "The Spell of the Yukon, and Other Verses".
 Originally published in 1916 by Barse & Co.
 Also published as "Songs of a Sourdough".

 Tokyo's in the grip of its coldest winter in several years - the perfect
opportunity for me to send this poem <grin>. Sometimes I think I know
exactly what Sam McGee felt like...

 On the poem itself I have not much to say. Heptameters always lend
themselves perfectly to balladry; there's also a touch of cheerful
bloodthirstyness about today's poem that's very reminiscent of Percy
French's "Abdul Abulbul Amir", or Gilbert's "Yarn of the 'Nancy Bell'"...



Sir Willam S. Gilbert, "The Yarn of the 'Nancy Bell'": poem #161

Percy French, "Abdul Abulbul Amir": poem #358

The Poet's Corner has all of Robert Service's poems online:
[broken link]

Service was often called 'The Kipling of the North'. My favourite Kipling is
"The Ballad of East and West": poem #67


 b. Jan. 16, 1874, Preston, Lancashire, Eng.
 d. Sept. 11, 1958, Lancieux, France

in full ROBERT WILLIAM SERVICE, popular verse writer called "the Canadian
Kipling" for rollicking ballads of the "frozen North," notably "The Shooting
of Dan McGrew."
Service emigrated to Canada in 1894 and, while working for the Canadian Bank
of Commerce in Victoria, B.C., was stationed for eight years in the Yukon.
He was a newspaper correspondent for the Toronto Star during the Balkan Wars
of 1912-13 and an ambulance driver and correspondent during World War I.

Service's first verse collections, Songs of a Sourdough (1907) and Ballads
of a Cheechako (1909), describing life in the Canadian north, were
enormously popular. Among his later volumes of verse are Rhymes of a Red
Cross Man (1916) and Bar Room Ballads (1940). The Trail of '98 (1910) is a
vivid novel of men and conditions in the Klondike. He also wrote two
autobiographical works, Ploughman of the Moon (1945) and Harper of Heaven
(1948). From 1912 he lived in Europe, mainly on the French Riviera.

        -- EB

59 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

maladina said...

Good heavens -- Robert Service??? When, as Margaret Atwood puts it,
announcing to any Brit or American that one is from Canada is greeted with
about as much interest as if one had announced that one had had mashed
potatoes for lunch?

Is Canadian now respectable?

I must dust off my mukluks.

(Come to think of it...that must sound vastly more facetious than it really
is -- honestly, we really did wear them in midwinter when I was a lad! And
played broom-ball on hockey rinks with soccer balls and sawed off curling

So do I now consider that "that night on the marge of Lake LaBarge I
cremated Sam McGee" and "the lady that's known as Lou" are now a part of
literate discourse, and that I don't need to confine such allusions to
communication with fellow tuque-wearers and perogy-eaters?

I thought they were considered doggerel -- but we tuque-wearers and perogy
eaters do quote them back and forth to each other...

Joy Trembley said...

i think robert william service is a great poet, yet, i dont really know if hes completely same! well, thats all i have to say! byebye

Raidersong said...

Many years ago my father was often called on to give poetry readings at
church socials etc. The Cremation of Sam McGee was one of his favorites. Reading
this again brought back many good memories.

Luvabulldog30 said...

robert service is a great poet, but I must say, this poem is quite odd! !

Jim.M.Hartman said...

This is a favorite poem of mine that was passed down through the men in my
family for generations. We didn't consider this 'great literature'
probably because of the morbid nature of the poem.... but that was the fun
of it. It started in the 1920's or 30's when my grandfather and uncle
memorized this poem so that they could 'gross out' the girls that they
knew. Mostly they used it to get a reaction out of my great grandmother
(their mom).

Jim Hartman

Hugh Rankin said...

My father, John Phillip Fahey, would recite this peom with a glint in his eye. He was born on the prairie in 1914 and ended up the Vice President of an American bank in London, England. He was a mathematical genius but he loved Sam McGee, as did we, his half Englsih/Canadian chilren, love to hear him tell the story. Lee Rankin

Tom said...

While traveling thought the Yukon, we went a number of miles out of our way to set to Lake La Barge. A peaceful lake it was in August -- so we took a medicine-bottle-full of Lake La Barge and drove down to Seattle.
My medicine bottle says that I'm a confirmed romantic.
tom hassett

Ideas de negocios said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, but I am firmly convinced of this and love to learn more about the subject. If possible, acquire knowledge, would you update your blog with more information? It is very helpful to me

Anonymous said...

Dear Tom;

Through poetry analysis during my first semester of my BA studies I too have recently discovered the same: I am a confirmed romantic. "How unlikely!", they all said. "Ridiculous." I scowled.

I much prefer your story of confirmation.

"Of course you do...", he [the self-professed Romantic] thought.

pittsburgh cremation service said...

The Beinhauer Family Funeral Services provide transportation of the deceased to our facility,they arrange for the burial site and grave, they help families by providing closure and the opportunity to say good-bye.. i am glad that i made the right choice..

pittsburgh cremation service

Anonymous said...

ӏ hаvе reаԁ so mаnу articleѕ аbout the
bloggeг lovers exсеpt this ρaragraph is in fact а nice ρarаgraph, keep it up.

Chесk out my wеbpage;

Anonymous said...

Thаnks to my fathеr ωho informed me
cоnсегning this website, this website iѕ genuinely awesomе.

Stoρ bу my blog ... iphone 4 cases best

Anonymous said...

Excellent beat ! I would likе to apрrentice ωhile you amеnd уour websitе, hоw
can i subѕcгibe for a blog web sitе?

The account helpeԁ me a acceptable deal.
I had beеn tiny bit acquainted of this your
broаdcast рroѵidеd bright сlear idea

Rеviеw my web site

Anonymous said...

It's going to be ending of mine day, however before end I am reading this wonderful article to improve my experience.

Look into my webpage ::

Anonymous said...

Ӏf some one wishеs expert viеw on the topic of bloggіng аnd sitе-buіlding aftеrwаrd і advise him/hеr to visit this wеblog,
Kеep uρ the fastіdious wогk.

My web page: samsung galaxy s3 phone covers

Anonymous said...

You've made some good points there. I looked on the web for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

Feel free to visit my weblog: best iphone 4s case

Anonymous said...

What's Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I've discovered It absolutely helpful and it has helped me out loads.
I'm hoping to contribute & help different users like its aided me. Great job.

Also visit my site -

Anonymous said...

What i don't realize is if truth be told how you are now not really much more neatly-preferred than you may be now. You are so intelligent. You know therefore considerably relating to this topic, produced me individually believe it from a lot of varied angles. Its like women and men aren't fascinated
until it's one thing to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding. Always deal with it up!

my site ... Sito Ufficiale Gucci Borse

Anonymous said...

It's not my first time to pay a quick visit this website, i am visiting this website dailly and take fastidious facts from here every day.

My page: Abercrombie Fitch Belgique

Anonymous said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn.
This is a very well written article. I'll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I'll definitely comeback.

Here is my blog - Cheap Louis Vuitton Bags

Anonymous said...

When I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on
each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
Is there an easy method you are able to remove me from that service?
Many thanks!

Feel free to surf to my blog post Cheap Nike Jerseys

Anonymous said...

I was extremely pleased to find this site. I need to to thank you for ones time for
this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every
part of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new things on your

Feel free to visit my web-site NFL Jerseys Cheap

Anonymous said...

My family members all the time say that I am killing my time here at web, except I know
I am getting knowledge daily by reading thes good articles.

My web blog

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post's to be exactly what I'm looking for.

Does one offer guest writers to write content for you?
I wouldn't mind publishing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome web site!

my weblog cheap jerseys

Anonymous said...

Howdy! I realize this is kind of off-topic but I had to ask.
Does operating a well-established website like yours require a large
amount of work? I am brand new to blogging but I do write in my journal everyday.
I'd like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

my blog post: Cheap NFL Jerseys

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really digging the template/theme of this site. It's simple, yet effective.
A lot of times it's tough to get that "perfect balance" between user friendliness and visual appeal. I must say you have done a excellent job with this. In addition, the blog loads very quick for me on Internet explorer. Superb Blog!

my web site Sidney Crosby Jersey

Anonymous said...

Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to
assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account
your blog posts. Anyway I'll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

my web site

Anonymous said...

Every weekend i used to visit this site, because i want enjoyment, for the reason
that this this web site conations truly pleasant funny information too.

Also visit my site ... Louis Vuitton Purses

Anonymous said...

Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar
one and i was just wondering if you get a lot
of spam comments? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can
advise? I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any support is very much appreciated.

Feel free to visit my web-site ::

Anonymous said...

This post will help the internet visitors for creating new blog
or even a weblog from start to end.

Also visit my web page: Chaussures De Football Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

I for all time emailed this webpage post page to all
my friends, as if like to read it next my friends will too.

my web blog ...

Anonymous said...

My partner and I stumbled over here different web page
and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to looking at your web page for a second time.

Review my web blog - Abercrombie Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

I every time emailed this weblog post page to all
my contacts, because if like to read it next my links will too.

Stop by my web-site: Abercrombie

Anonymous said...

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the guide in it or
something. I believe that you simply could do with
a few p.c. to force the message home a bit, but other than that, this
is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

My web page ... Cheap Louis Vuitton Handbags

Anonymous said...

I've been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It's pretty worth enough for
me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than
ever before.

My webpage - Louis Vuitton Bags

Anonymous said...

It's remarkable designed for me to have a site, which is beneficial in favor of my know-how. thanks admin

Also visit my web site - Cheap Jerseys

Anonymous said...

What's up, yeah this post is truly pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it regarding blogging. thanks.

my web page - Wholesale Jerseys

Anonymous said...

My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .

net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of
the expenses. But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using Movable-type on a
number of websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
I have heard excellent things about
Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?
Any help would be really appreciated!

Feel free to visit my blog post: Evgeni Malkin Black Jersey

Anonymous said...

It's in fact very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, thus I simply use world wide web for that purpose, and obtain the newest news.

My web blog Nike Air Max

Anonymous said...

I simply couldn't depart your web site before suggesting that I extremely loved the usual info a person supply for your guests? Is going to be again often in order to inspect new posts

my weblog :: Air Jordan Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

This design is incredible! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.

Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
almost...HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really loved what you had to say,
and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

Feel free to visit my blog ... Click Here

Anonymous said...

I really like reading a post that can make men and women think.
Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

my page - Mulberry Outlet

Anonymous said...

The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole
my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she
can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she
has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

My web page

Anonymous said...

Spot on with this write-up, I actually think this website needs a lot more attention.
I'll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info!

Here is my web-site: Oakley Sunglasses

Anonymous said...

I've been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It's pretty worth enough for me.

In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made
good content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

Here is my webpage Cheap NFL Jerseys

Unknown said...

thank you, this website has provided very useful knowledge cara memperbesar penis terbaik for me and others

Unknown said...

all of which have been presented by this website was perfect, good bedroom design | minimalist home design | honda appearance and artikelnya..penuh color and full of meaning ..

Unknown said...

Wow thank you very much for this creative content, this has really helped me a lot,specially first post of this site.
i was at this confused point in my Consumers Memo but after reading,this gave me more idea about how better my life could be.
Thank you very much for the effort and kindly keep posting something like this every time, it goes a long way to help people like us.
I also got help from another cool site Sistema 30 x 30 like your too called Perfect Consumers Memo which describes a lot about handling health. Thank you very much and I am gonna be here often.

unsgu said...

Info yang diberikan bagus sekali, semoga menjadi berkah dan bermanfaat bagi kita semua price and specifications

iklan baris said...

Thank you for providing this poem, I enjoy reading it.
iklan baris gratis
pasang iklan gratis

Unknown said...

Nice interior home design info given, may be a blessing and price kawasaki ninja benefit home and design us all

Post a Comment