Archive for September 11th, 2009

Robert Service Cabin Dawson CitySo today is September 11 and I could mention the event that will forever be linked to that date but I’m going to write instead about poet  Robert Service, who died on this date back in 1958.  Service was called the Bard of the Yukon as he came from the Great White North and much of his work focused on tales of the life of that area, the miners of the Gold Rush and the trappers for instance in a way that reminds one of Rudyard Kipling.  In his life Service achieved a huge degree of success and wealth from his poetry, something that would be remarkable in this day and age when the idea of a best -selling poet and popular culture icon seems ludicrous.  I am always intrigued by artists in any field who are tremendously popular in one era but whose name is, for the most part, lost in the eras that follow.

Much of his verse was more  about story than stringing  words together for rhythm and sound, telling  tales that dealt with the lives and deaths of the hard men of the north.  There was The Shooting of Dan McGrew , The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill and many more with equally colorful titles but perhaps his most famous was The Creamtion of Sam McGee.

I had never really heard of Service or his poem about the end of Sam McGee until this past Christmas Eve when my nephew Jeremy’s good friend and partner, Eliza, gave our family a wonderful recitation of the poem.  She had memorized it for a class recital as a young girl and has carried it with her since.  Now, that’s good baggage.

Anyway, thanks for the gift of Service, Eliza.  On this the day Robert Service died, enjoy an interesting reading by one of my favorites and another Canadian, Hank Snow.

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