Robert William Service (1874-1958) was a poet and writer, sometimes referred to as "the Bard of the Yukon". He is best-known for his writings on the Canadian North, including the poems "The Shooting of Dan McGrew", "The Law of the Yukon", and "The Cremation of Sam McGee". His writing was so expressive that his readers took him for a hard-bitten old Klondike prospector, not the later-arriving bank clerk he actually was. In addition to his Yukon works, Service also wrote poetry set in locales as diverse as South Africa, Afghanistan, and New Zealand. His writing has a decidedly British Empire point of view.
Best Tales of the Yukonby Robert Service
Robert Service wrote in the golden years of the Klondike--of the rough and ready men, and women just as tough. No-one in Robert's world (real or imagined) minced words or had any self-consciousness about them. It was live and let live and sometimes kill or be killed. "Best Tales of the Yukon" reflects those times. Reading Service's poems transports us back to that frozen place in nature when it was literally every man and every woman for him/herself. Somehow Service conveys only a sensitivity, but the beauties he saw in the others. His poems also have historical interest, as he talked about the arrival of the light switch, gathering around the village's first "grammyphone", and hearing the voice of "canned man" coming from it (some "savages "took to their canoes because it seemed demonic, while others were enraptured by this miracle of sound). Cold cabins, with hoarfrost clinging to the inside rafters, unwashed masses in itchy long-johns struggling out of bed on an arctic day, and the beauty of the lilies living side by side with a trapper's two-timing woman getting her just desserts (over "a black fox skin"), Robert Service touches the heart and soul of the rough and raw Klondike in the early 1900's, showing us the emotions and colors from inky black to pure gold. "Best Tales of the Yukon" has a magical way of transporting readers to the Yukon-something you won't want to miss. "Best Tales of the Yukon" collects together forty-five of these poems. Selected from two of his earliest volumes, "Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses" and "Ballads of a Cheechako", this volumes includes some of Service's most memorable poetry including the classics "The Shooting of Dan McGrew", "The Law of the Yukon", and "The Cremation of Sam McGee".
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My book club is reading this book. I haven't enjoyed reading poetry. . .I even took a class in college which involved ready poetry to try to change my thinking. The class didn't change what I thought about poetry and this book didn't either.