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The Spell of the Yukon  

by Robert Service

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 that 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 sort 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 -

Oh 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-bye 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 damn sight-

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. 

   

 

The Men That Don't Fit In

                              by Robert Service  

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 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 that won't fit in.

                                                      **********************************************

 

  (Poems below are written in the style of the day in the 1930s by Sarah Drury Taylor)               

 Our Dogs

Then here's to our dogs of the Northland,

Be their pedigree what it may,

And here's to their wolf howl in winter,

When weird Northern Lights hold sway.

 

When the story has all been written,

And the pages have all been penned,

When the trails have divulged their secrets,

Before the last chapter shall end.

 

Just mention the other trail blazers;

The dogs; who "as man's own right hand"

Pushed North, daring all for their master,

Who searched for the gold bearing sand.

Without them, man could not have conquered

The hardships and loneliness rife

Of unblazed trails of the Northland,

In his struggle for gold and life.

 

Their bells tinkling soft in the moonlight,

Their tails curled in the shape of a bow;

Enquire of the grizzled prospector,

Of arduous trips through the snow.

 

Enquire of the rosy cheeked children,

They'll tell of their playmates so true,

That linger outside of the schoolroom,

All patience, 'till lessons are through.

 

Remember the other trail blazers,

The Mascots of Pioneer Days,

The heroes of many a struggle,

The winners of tragical frays.

 

So here's to our dogs of the Northland

Be their pedigree what it may,

And here's to their wolf-howl in winter,

When weird Northern lights hold sway.

                                                by : Sarah Drury Taylor

 

 

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