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The Poems of Robert W. Service examined for Poetry Month

Robert W. Service carved his life out of the gold fields of Alaska. He wasn’t a miner or geologist. Robert W. Service was a poet.

Robert W. Service preferred a hard life and believed it brought out honesty in those around him.

Imagine a man trained as a bank clerk new to Dawson City, his heart captured by the gold fever and the adventurous spirit of a prospector. Mix in a solid education, knowledge of words and a clever enough head to understand gold miners rarely prosper, but writers do.

Le Envoi (1909)

We talked of yesteryears, of tales and treasure,
Of men who played the game and lost or won;
Of mad stampedes, of toil beyond all measure,
Of campfire comfort when the day was done.
We talked of sullen nights by moon dogs haunted,
Of bird and beast and tree, of rod and gun;
Of boat and tent of hunting trip enchanted
Beneath the wonder of the midnight sun...

Robert W. Service’s poems tell tall tales of coward and courageous, the cunning and cautious, and the rough and ready. Hints of the supernatural, mental and physical exhaustion, all live in his poetic pages of the frozen north.

His poetry made him famous and rich, and in 1909 Service quit his bank job and engaged upon a world tour.

The Toronto Star hired Service in 1914 as a correspondent for the Balkans when WWI started. Afterwards the poet of the Yukon traveled in the South Seas.

Robert W. Service continued to write excellent poetry, but his lawless Yukon poems are what he’s best remembered for. He died in France, in 1958.

Robert W. Service’s poems are perfect for chilly campfire nights hung under a Colorado sky or to relax and enjoy between daring metro adventures.


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