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Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)

DigiTrad:
MADAM LA MARQUISE
THE CREMATION OF SAM MCGEE
THE SHOOTING OF DAN MCGREW


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Shooting of Dan McGrew (Robert W Service) (20)
Lyr Req: Dangerous Dan McGrew-naughty version (8)
Resources: Robert W. Service (31)
Lyr Add: The Whistle of Sandy McGraw (R W Service) (11)
Tune Req: The Face on the Bar-room Floor (45)
Lyr Req: In Praise of Alcohol (Robert W Service) (24)
Ottawa Folk Fest. Robt Service Collection (1)
Tune Req: Michael (Robert Service, Greg Artzner) (6)
Lyr Req: Face on the Barroom Floor (37)
Lyr Add: The Shooting of Dan's Guru (15)
Lyr Add: Accordion (Robert Service) (18)
Lyr Req: Dangerous Dan McGrew (35)
Lyr Req: The Quitter (Robert Service) (9)
Add: How MacPherson Held the Floor (Robt. Service) (1)
Ballad of Dangerous Dan McGrew (15)
Rhymes of a Red Cross Man (13)


Newfoundlander 08 Mar 98 - 01:05 AM
Sheye 08 Mar 98 - 01:57 AM
Joe Offer 08 Mar 98 - 03:04 AM
Alan of Australia 08 Mar 98 - 04:22 AM
NEWFOUNDLANDER 08 Mar 98 - 07:39 AM
Moira Cameron 08 Mar 98 - 12:54 PM
dick greenhaus 09 Mar 98 - 03:05 PM
Art Thieme 10 Mar 98 - 04:22 AM
NEWFOUNDLANDER 10 Mar 98 - 09:35 AM
Paul Stamler 10 Mar 98 - 01:36 PM
Art Thieme 10 Mar 98 - 04:51 PM
Frank Phillips 10 Mar 98 - 06:02 PM
NEWFOUNDLANDER 11 Mar 98 - 06:29 AM
Moira Cameron 12 Mar 98 - 02:09 PM
NEWFOUNDLANDER 12 Mar 98 - 07:05 PM
Bojangles 13 Mar 98 - 12:21 PM
Joe Offer 13 Mar 98 - 08:19 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 14 Mar 98 - 06:34 PM
Richard 14 Mar 98 - 08:42 PM
Richard 14 Mar 98 - 08:45 PM
mack/misophist 13 Feb 04 - 08:19 PM
johnfitz.com 13 Feb 04 - 09:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Feb 04 - 10:35 PM
Amos 13 Feb 04 - 10:38 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Feb 04 - 10:45 PM
Teresa 13 Feb 04 - 11:07 PM
Tam the Bam (Nutter) 14 Feb 04 - 08:21 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Feb 04 - 12:38 PM
Joe Offer 14 Feb 04 - 03:30 PM
Teresa 14 Feb 04 - 03:51 PM
Amos 14 Feb 04 - 03:58 PM
GUEST 14 Feb 04 - 04:09 PM
Joe Offer 14 Feb 04 - 04:44 PM
GUEST 15 Feb 04 - 04:38 PM
Alaska Mike 16 Feb 04 - 12:01 AM
GUEST 16 Feb 04 - 06:15 PM
Gareth 16 Feb 04 - 06:26 PM
Rapparee 17 Feb 04 - 02:19 PM
Acme 18 Feb 04 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Raffi Maslan 21 Feb 04 - 12:32 AM
katlaughing 21 Feb 04 - 12:44 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 21 Feb 04 - 01:16 AM
katlaughing 21 Feb 04 - 01:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 04 - 02:15 PM
voyager 23 Feb 04 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Uncle Jaque 23 Feb 04 - 02:39 PM
Desert Dancer 23 Feb 04 - 11:43 PM
katlaughing 24 Feb 04 - 01:04 AM
Seamus Kennedy 24 Feb 04 - 01:49 AM
Barry T 24 Feb 04 - 02:08 AM
TheBigPinkLad 24 Feb 04 - 01:42 PM
Acme 24 Feb 04 - 05:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Feb 04 - 06:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Feb 04 - 06:04 PM
Tam the Bam (Nutter) 25 Feb 04 - 12:48 PM
Joe Offer 06 Aug 10 - 04:21 PM
katlaughing 06 Aug 10 - 04:30 PM
katlaughing 06 Aug 10 - 04:45 PM
katlaughing 06 Aug 10 - 05:01 PM
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Subject: SAM McGEE
From: Newfoundlander
Date: 08 Mar 98 - 01:05 AM

This is not a song. I'm looking for the words of a poem I learned when I went to school in the 1970s., but after forgetting. The title was The Creamation Of Sam Mcgee. I would also like to know the authors name.


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Subject: ADD: The Cremation of Sam McGee (Service)
From: Sheye
Date: 08 Mar 98 - 01:57 AM

Anytime! Robert Service is an old favourite:


The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert W. Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The artic 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 the 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 down 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 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 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 that 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 here 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 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 artic 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 the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Mar 98 - 03:04 AM

Newfoundlander, you might want to take a look at The Original Home Page of Robert W. Service. It's a great site itself, and there are links to lots of other Robert W. Service poems.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 08 Mar 98 - 04:22 AM

Joe,
Thanks for that link, it's great.

I'm led to believe that Robert Service worked in a bank and used the names of customers such as Sam McGee for his poems. Apparently the real Sam McGee confronted him in the bank after the poem became well known and emphatically expressed his displeasure at the use of his name. Some people need to lighten up a bit.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: NEWFOUNDLANDER
Date: 08 Mar 98 - 07:39 AM

Thanks Guys.Great Poem and Great Site Joe.I didn't think it was such a long poem. We had to learn it in grade 6 and recite it without the sheet. My memory must have been better back then.


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Moira Cameron
Date: 08 Mar 98 - 12:54 PM

Check out the recordings of the late David Parry (Canada). David love Service poems and put several of them to music. You can find out more about him by contacting the Borealis Recording Company:
email: brc@interlog.com

website: www.interlog.com/~brc


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Mar 98 - 03:05 PM

As I recall...

"Hark to the toot of the malemute that's known as Dan McGrew
I'll bust the snoot of the dam' galoot that stole my Lady Lou.."

As well as:

"Fighting their way 'cross the ice-floes Cursed by the cruel cold Blowing their noses like demons They ravish the Yukon's gold..."


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 04:22 AM

Sevice wrote wonderful fiction adventure books too!! Can't find 'em anywhere though. (Debbie McClatchey loves these books and has many of 'em.) The one I've got I bought at a garage sale (called a tag sale in New England) for .25 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Then there was Sam & Kirk McGee on the Granola Opry (more natural than the show in Tennessee)----but I never knew he was cremated???? (smile) Sam McGee was a fine finger picker. Check out his "Railroad Blues"!! Just great. On Arhoolie I believe on a later LP produced by Mike Seeger. (He had an amazing TONGUE!! He wagged it around worse than Michael Jordan!)TRUE


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: NEWFOUNDLANDER
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 09:35 AM

I've read the poem a dozen or so times the past few days and I was wondering if any of you folks could tell me where LAKE LABARGE is located.


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Paul Stamler
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 01:36 PM

The record including "Railroad Blues" Art refers to, produced by Mike Seeger, is called "Old-Timers of the Grand Ole Opry"; it features Sam & Kirk McGee & Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (Sam + Kirk = Uncle Dave Macon's Fruit Jar Drinkers), and is on Folkways. There was a second album, "Milk 'Em in the Evening Blues", just as good. These are overdue for reissue on Smithsonian/Folkways, but meanwhile you can get 'em as CD-R recordings or cassettes. (Be prepared to wait 6 months or so -- they're badly backordered at Smithsonian/Folkways.)
Peace. Paul


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 04:51 PM

Tom Paley did a great "Railroad Blues" on an early New Lost City Ramblers LP on Folkways. When he performed it at the '62 (I think) U. Of Chicago Folk Festival it simply blew me away!!! I had it on my 1st LP on Kicking Mule (out o' print) me live at the Old Town School of Fake(whoops, I mean "Folk") Music.(KM 150)_Outright Bold -Faced Lies_

Art


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Frank Phillips
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 06:02 PM

I remember being told in school that Labarge was a slight misspelling of the name of a lake in the Yukon. Sure enough there's a Laberge Lake immediately north of Whitehorse on my Atlas. It looks like it is part of the Yukon River system but the scale is a little small to see for sure.

Frank Phillips


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: NEWFOUNDLANDER
Date: 11 Mar 98 - 06:29 AM

THANKS FRANK. I just dug out my atlas and found it also.


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Moira Cameron
Date: 12 Mar 98 - 02:09 PM

No one ever seems to talk about his war poetry. He wrote the finest poems on the front lines I've ever heard. His "Rhymes of a Red Cross Man" is a very potent collection which I highly recommend. They are very different from his more humerous ballads like Sam McGee.


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: NEWFOUNDLANDER
Date: 12 Mar 98 - 07:05 PM

Hello Moira. Would you have a site where I could read Rhymes Of A Red Cross Man.


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Bojangles
Date: 13 Mar 98 - 12:21 PM

I recall that Tom Paley did Sam McGhee's "Railroad Blues" playing in an E major fingering with a slide up 7 frets with a bend on the second string during the instrumental. It was a mind blower! I love the verse that goes:

Met a little gypsy in a fortune tellin' place Yes I met a little gypsy, in a fortune tellin' place She read my mind, and then she slapped my face.

Tom did a fine job of lifting the song note-by-note and lick-by-lick off of the old Sam McGhee recording.


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Mar 98 - 08:19 PM

That Tom Paley recording of "Railroad Blues" is available on a Folkways CD, SF CD 40036, The New Lost City Ramblers, "The Early Years, 1958-1962." It's a generous collection of 26 great cuts.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 14 Mar 98 - 06:34 PM

Newfoundlander, Stompin' Tom Conners did a version of The Cremation of Sam McGee. He had to alter the lyrics slightly to get it to scan but it is mostly the same as the poem.

I agree. Service's war poetry was his best stuff. A lot of good poems came out of WWI from servicemen of various countries -- don't soldiers write poetry any more?


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Richard
Date: 14 Mar 98 - 08:42 PM

Newfoundlander

For a Service web site check out the Shooting of Dan McGrew site. The Service site has all his poem's on it. including the one's Moira speaks of.

Richard


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Subject: RE: SAM McGEE
From: Richard
Date: 14 Mar 98 - 08:45 PM

Here you go!

http://www.top.monad.net/~artude/service.html

Richard


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: mack/misophist
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 08:19 PM

The links above were all down when I tried them Check out this one.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 09:35 PM

I recite this poem using Streets of London as background guitar. It's a big favorite at the Inn I play at in New England, especially given this cold winter.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 10:35 PM

Many Robert Service poems here: Service Poems


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Amos
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 10:38 PM

Actually Mack's link got built as though it were local, which it ain't. The Cremation of Sam McGhee can be found here.

A


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 10:45 PM

Download 832 poems by Service here: Service Poems

(I'd rather have the books, but if you know the title, this is handy)


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Teresa
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 11:07 PM

Hmm, I'm about to dig through the Digitrad, but didn't Debbie McClatchey do a song that was based on the Sam McGee story, with the name changed to Bill? I don't know the name of it, and I don't have the recording. The last time I heard it was somewhere around ... 20 years ago? sheesh; time flies. :-P
Teresa


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Tam the Bam (Nutter)
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 08:21 AM

Robert Service came from Kilwining in Scotland and moved to Canada.

Or so I'm told


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 12:38 PM

Son of a Scottish banker and an English factory owner's daughter, he emigrated to Canada in 1896 to join a brother in ranching. Service


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 03:30 PM

Hi, Teresa - I put a link for the Debby McClatchy Website (click) on our Folk Musician and Songwriter Links Page (click). The link to Debby isn't working today. I can't imagine it's permanently dead - I just helped get it revised about a month ago.

Anyhow, the site has a good discography on it, and I can't get to it. "Cremation of Sam McGee" and "Ballad of Blasphemous Bill" are on her "Lady Luck" album, which was on Green Linnet. I guess maybe she didn't record "Shooting of Dan McGrew." Debby has the Green Linnet tapes, but they're in bad shape, and she doesn't think she will be able to reissue them on CD. I don't think she does her musical setting of the Robert W. Service poems any more. I got her to sing a verse or two of Sam McGee one time when she was here, but she said the Service poems aren't what she's interested in nowadays. If any singer is known for musical settings of Robert W. Service, it's Debby McClatchy (and Hank Snow). But Hank's dead, and Debby doesn't do 'em any more.

This page (click) has transcripts of some of the more famour Robert W. Service poems, including "Sam McGee," "Blasphemous Bill," and "The Shooting of Dan McGrew." There are a number of Service poems posted here, scattered all around Mudcat.

-Joe Offer-

This Page (click) is the old Debby Website, which is still operating.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Teresa
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 03:51 PM

Thanks, Joe. I was just on that site yesterday, so it has worked at least up to that point. :>
Teresa


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Amos
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 03:58 PM

A Verseman's Apology
 






      

 
Alas! I am only a rhymer,
I don't know the meaning of Art;
But I learned in my little school primer
To love Eugene Field and Bret Harte.
I hailed Hoosier Ryley with pleasure,
To John Hay I took off my hat;
These fellows were right to my measure,
And I've never gone higher than that.

The Classics! Well, most of them bore me,
The Moderns I don't understand;
But I keep Burns, my kinsman before me,
And Kipling, my friend, is at hand.
They taught me my trade as I know it,
Yet though at their feet I have sat,
For God-sake don't call me a poet,
For I've never been guilty of that.

A rhyme-rustler, rugged and shameless,
A Bab Balladeer on the loose;
Of saccarine sonnets I'm blameless,
My model has been - Mother Goose.
And I fancy my grave-digger griping
As he gives my last lodging a pat:
"This guy wrote McGrew;
'Twas the best he could do" . . .
So I'll go to my maker with that.

Robert Service


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 04:09 PM

Robert William Service was born on January 16, 1874 in Christian Road, in that centre of modern literature, Preston. He grew up in Scotland and found fame in Canada. Service died peacefully at his home in Lancieux, France, on September 11 1958.


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Subject: ADD: Ballad of Blasphemous Bil (Robert W. Service)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 04:44 PM

The best Robert W. Service Website I've seen is http://www.robertwservice.com.

The site has been redesigned and contains much more than just a near-complete collection of poetry. Unfortunately, that makes the poetry a bit harder to find.
Click here to get to the poetry, which is organized by the books in which the poems originally appeared. I haven't found a complete list of poems on the site. As far as I can tell, you have to brows by book, or use the search engine and know what you're looking for. The site used to be easier to navigate - buut now it got fancy. Too bad.

-Joe Offer-

Anyhow, here's:

The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill
(Robert W. Service)

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 bone-yard 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 stove-pipe 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 was 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.


Another good Service Website is http://www.artdamage.com/service.htm


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 04:38 PM

Robert W Service Centenary Dinner on the beautiful Kyles of Bute, Scotland.

Tighnabruaich Dead Poets Society is recognising the arrival of RWS in the Yukon 100 years ago with a commemorative dinner at Tighnabruaich, Argyll, on Saturday 20th March 2004.

An excellent three course meal will be followed by a presentation of Service's life and work, with readings and audio-visuals.

A STUNNING EVENING IN A STUNNING SETTING

£15.00 per head ($25 approx) for the evening; details of accommodation on request.

Contact Ian Williams on +44 (0) 1700 811309 or ian@kylesbank.com


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 12:01 AM

All five of my children graduated from Robert W. Service High School in Anchorage. He is loved and appreciated here in Alaska and his poems will remain alive and well as long as the winters get cold in the north.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 06:15 PM

I once recited Cremation in a college Oral Interpretation of Dramatic Literature course, the professors only comment--"Well, he was a bad poet anyway." I still enjoy reciting it and whenever my substitute teaching gets me into a lit. class reading an appropriate story I will. Always surprises the students, they're amazed I can remember the whole thing. It also appears in the Lit book used by our 8th grade.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Gareth
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 06:26 PM

Hmmm ! Are "bad poets" those who do not fit the prejudices of college proffessors ?

Actually I like and appreciate Kiplin and Service - decried tho they may be !

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Rapparee
Date: 17 Feb 04 - 02:19 PM

I first made Sam's acquaintance in Boy Scouts, when one of the assistant Scoutmasters would recite it when the council fire was dying and the embers were glowing. Fair blew me away the first time I heard it.

Cowboy poets like Service and Kipling. Interesting.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Acme
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 12:41 PM

Service sticks very strictly to rhyme and meter patterns that were considered passé after the likes of T.S. Eliot hit the poetry marketplace. It's a matter of taste and fashion, but lit professors feel entitled to be arbiters of taste, and will continue to do so.

In addition to Robert Service, I grew up loving the poems of folks like Eugene Field, and he is considered rather minor by modern lit folks also. Sobeit, I still like him. If you ask lit professors about their literary "guilty pleasures," I suspect you'll find a remarkable number of them who also like these poems. (They also read escapist novels of all sorts--I've quizzed the lit folks in my university about this more than once and enjoyed their answers).

SRS


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: GUEST,Raffi Maslan
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 12:32 AM

The Cremation of Sam McGee works very well with the verse part of the tune to A Capital Ship.

The mood is a bit too cheerful for the tone of the poem, but it works nicely.

Raffi


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 12:44 AM

I read this to my daughter's eight grade class when she was in middle school. They loved it and wanted to know about all of his poems.

We were raised on Service, Kipling, Fields (me, too, SRS!), and many others, all wonderful.

kat


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 01:16 AM

So Kat ...you were "raised on" the classics of doggerel.

Why did you read? Is your mind to addled for memorization? Perhaps, dogeral or your daughter arn't worthy of the time spent commit to memory. A performer should always measure-up to their respect for the audience and the quality of their piece.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Any descent rhetorician has serveral Kippling and Service, Frost and Sandberg, Yeats and Keating....buried for instant retreaval in the folds of their memory.

Sorry, you were unprepared for a stellar performance.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 01:54 PM

Why post in such a diminutive way, Greg? Why not just include it in larger type: Any descent(sic) rhetorician has serveral Kippling and Service, Frost and Sandberg, Yeats and Keating....buried for instant retreaval in the folds of their memory.

Sorry, you were unprepared for a stellar performance.


Sorry you are such a judgemental, self-loathsome, sightless hunk of stone. Really feel so sorry for you....such a lonely life.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 04 - 02:15 PM

The "Cremation" appeared in "The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses," 1907; this may help in searching some of the linked sites.
In the same book is the "Ballad of the Wage Slave."

The University of Toronto provides an easy website (Representative Poetry Online) for
The Cremation of Sam McGee
The Shooting of Dan McGrew
The Song of the Wage-slave
The Telegraph Operator
Service index

The headings on the page will lead one to an excellent selection of poems of all kinds (no value judgements).


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: voyager
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 12:31 PM

Without drifting too far afield from this thread
I'd like to make a plug for

BOB ZENTZ

who has rendered several Service sagas into wonderful
ballad songs. I'm quite keen on his

ODE TO A MOUTH HARP

(knocks me out every time I hear it). He also has a
cover of THE BALLAD OF SOULFUL SAM.

voyager
FSGW Ghetto


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: GUEST,Uncle Jaque
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 02:39 PM

I'm glad that someone has put Service's Poems to music.

I started out to a couple of time, and had a pretty good one going for "McGrew", too - but never wrote it down.

Remember that Alaskan Songwriter "Patty" something I think, who wrote ".30 U.S. On The Wall" in the 1930s?

Unable to get ahold of the original score, I just up and wrote my own - and I kinda like it, actually.

It's one of those tunes that I really think Kendall Morse could do a lot better than I can, and hope to get to run it by him some time.

My Daughter, a Wildlife Biologist and Artist here in Maine, is a big Service fan.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 11:43 PM

Debby McClatchy also set the "Ballad of Soulful Sam," and recorded it on her album Light Years Away (Marimac #4104-CD, 1995).

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 01:04 AM

This is one of my favourite quotes of his:

These I will sing, and if one of you linger
Over my pages in the Long, Long Night,
And on some lone line lay a calloused finger,
Saying: "It's human-true - it hits me right;"
Then will I count this loving toil well spent;
Then will I dream awhile - content, content.

- Robert W. Service: To the Man of the High North -


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 01:49 AM

Two of my favorite recordings are Hank Snow doing Service set to music, and Jean Shepherd (of Wanda Hickey fame) reciting Service.
Love 'em.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Barry T
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 02:08 AM

How 'bout a Robert Service song...

http://members.shaw.ca/tunebook/iceworms.htm

Not only the words but also the music!


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 01:42 PM

You can get beautifully illustrated copies of Sam McGee and Dan McGraw from Ted Harrison's site here (click). Ted is also an ex-Brit Canadian who spent much of his life in the Yukon.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Acme
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 05:24 PM

The Mountain and the Lake
Robert Service

I know a mountain thrilling to the stars,
Peerless and pure, and pinnacled with snow;
Glimpsing the golden dawn o'er coral bars,
Flaunting the vanisht sunset's garnet glow;
Proudly patrician, passionless, serene;
Soaring in silvered steeps where cloud-surfs break;
Virgin and vestal -- Oh, a very Queen!
And at her feet there dreams a quiet lake.

My lake adores my mountain -- well I know,
For I have watched it from its dawn-dream start,
Stilling its mirror to her splendid snow,
Framing her image in its trembling heart;
Glassing her graciousness of greening wood,
Kissing her throne, melodiously mad,
Thrilling responsive to her every mood,
Gloomed with her sadness, gay when she is glad.

My lake has dreamed and loved since time was born;
Will love and dream till time shall cease to be;
Gazing to Her in worship half forlorn,
Who looks towards the stars and will not see --
My peerless mountain, splendid in her scorn. . . .
Alas! poor little lake! Alas! poor me!

This site has lots of poems but it also has some obnoxious ads. Don't mouse over "Tina" or she will talk to you.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 06:00 PM

Servie poems organized by book- www.mochinet.com/poets/service/index.cgi: Service Index

Includes eleven of his books including Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, Ballads of a Cheechako, Barroom Balleds, all of his Bohemian Ballads, Spell of the Yukon. etc.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 06:04 PM

Service, Ballads; what else did I mis-spell?
The editor of the above website is looking for helpers to aid in correcting any of the mistakes in transcription of the Service material at his website.
I think a more open title is needed for this thread.


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Tam the Bam (Nutter)
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 12:48 PM

What about William McGonnegill the best poet to come from Dundee.

I really like him, ok he was rubbish but I like his poems and songs they are brillant.
I don't know how to spell his surname but he's one of my heroes.
Robert Burns is too flowery for me, I like as well but he's not as funny or shit as oor William is he.
And yet there are people in Scotland/Dundee who don't like him.
if it wasn't for him, who would of heard of Dundee.
Tom frae Saltcoats Scotland


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Aug 10 - 04:21 PM

I like this Johnny Cash performance of Sam McGee.
I was looking for YouTube videos of sung versions, but didn't find any....yet.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Aug 10 - 04:30 PM

I wish I had a recording of my dad reciting this...much better than Cash, imo, and I usually like Cash.:-)


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Aug 10 - 04:45 PM

That got me to looking, Joe. Found an actual recording of Service, himself, reciting The Shooting of Dan McGrew. Amazing. I don't like the animation of his photo lips, but ya don't have to look to hear it.:-)


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Subject: RE: Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert W. Service)
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Aug 10 - 05:01 PM

Here ya go, Joe. Robert W. himself reciting the Cremation of Sam McGee! Love it! What a wonder the internet is when someone can share an old recording like this...to hear the actual poet reading his own works! There are several others of him reading others, too.


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