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SAM MCGEE The Cremation Of

Poem By Robert W. Service

1


go ld ;

The A rc t ic

e s t rang e e ar t hin her g

T

2

s done in t h e mid n

t sun By ight

r il fo o m ho w en he m

tr ail s

hav e

thei r


r se c

ret t a

ke les T ha t w oul d ma

lo rb u o y

od

ld ; o c run

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the

queerest they ever did

see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I c r e m a t e d

.

SAM m c ge e

3


4


N

ow

Sam McGee

was from

Tennessee,

where the cotton

b l o o m s and b l o w s .

Why

he left his home in the Sout h to roam ‘round the Pole,

God only knows . He was always

cold, but the land of g o l d

seemed to hold him like

a spell;

Though h e ’d o f t e n s a y i n h i s h o m e l y w a y t h a t “ h e ’d sooner live in

hell .

5


On a Chrismas

Day we were

lik e a d r i v e n

mushing our way over the Dawson

nail.

If our eyes we’d c lose, then the

fun, but the only

m

was Sa

6


trail.

Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed

lashes froze till s o m e t i m e s we

co uldn’t

s e e ; It wasn’t much

one to w h i m p e r .

McGee

77


er y

nig ht ,a sw el ay

pack

A

tv tha d n

e d tight

in ou r ro be sb en ea th

the snow And

And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

8

the nd a , fed re e sw og d th e

sta

rs o’erhe a

d

we re

dancin


tur n

ess;

th

d an e, m

“C

is

to

t

ed

rip, I gu

in

to e,He

ap,” s ys he, “I’ll ca a

sh

ng heel a nd

9


10


Well

he

seemed

so

low

that

I

couldn’t

say

no;

“It’s

the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold

till

I’m

Yet

fair,

I

he says with a sort of moan:

chilled

‘taint

dread So

then

of want you’ll

clean

being the you

through dead—

icy to

cremate

to

the

bone.

my

awful

that

pains;

it’s

grave swear

that,

foul

my

last

remains.”

or

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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 night fall a

corpse was all that was left of

12

SA

M


M CG E E

13


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;

14


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 my last remains.”

15


26 16

CURSE

D


Now

a promise m a d e is a debt u n p a i d , and the trail has its own stern code.

In the days to come, though my lips were

dumb , in my heart how I cursed the load. In the long,long night, by the firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring. Howled out their woes to the homeless snows-

O

. n g h i t ed the

G od! how i loath

17


A

n

d

grow; And on

low;

of ten

18

si ng

to

eve r y

day

that

I went, though the

bad, and I felt

The

trail was

th e

hateful thin g, and it


he avy and

quiet

clay

s eemed

to

dogs

wer e

sp e nt

and the grub was getting

bu t

I swore I

would

hearkened with

a g r i n

half

mad,

heavier

not give i n ; And I’d

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T

ill

I

Lebarge,

came and

to a

the derelict

marge

there

Lake

of

lay;

It was jammed in the i c e , but I saw in a trice it wa s called

the

The

CRE M 20

AT OR

“Alic

n

e

“Here,” said I,

EUM

” . y Ma with


And

I looked at it, and I thought a

bit,

and

I

looked my

at frozen

c h u m ;

a

sudden cry,

“is my

21 21


e; f ir So

22

ile

r

Som

e

me

p la

n ks

c oa

lit i

to

re

f ro m

th e

c a bi n

f loo

r,

an

the

bo

d

l i found th a a t was lying a r o u n d , a n d h e

ped

th e

fu e l

h

; r e i gh


t s u sj

e c a n e; r e e s fu m om e d a l h l t f se d u e n yo a , e Th d az

e r a so r

l

b h a nt i h c ole su h in d d e da r e e f f oa tu ow rr bu i en Th

e

d ,l an

is

oa c g

n wi o gl

m a S

M

cG

. e e

23


Then

I made f or a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him

sizzle

so;

d n A

24

t

in

r

easy s

ky

mo k e i n a n

he g

began to blow. It wa s icey cold, but the hot swea t

c


c lo

And the heavens scowled,and the huskies howled, and the w in d rol led down my

ak w

en t

king a e r st

cheeks,

and I don’t know

why;

do w n the

sky .

25


I

do not k now how long in the s n ow I wrestled with gr isly fear ; B u t the stars came o u t and they danced about ere again I ventured near ;

ad, but re d h it w k ic I was s

I

guess

he’s

t he n

w 26


I bravely said:”I’ll just take a peep inside.

cooke d

,

the

i

and

it’s

time

door

d

I

looked;”...

opened

e

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A

nd there sat Sam , looking c o o l and c a l m , in the heart of the furnace

And he wore a

s

m

i l

e

roar;

you could see a

m i l e

“Please close that door . It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll l e t in the and storm — Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been

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w a r m .”

cold

, and he said:


29


Th

er ea

re str ang e th ings

in the

e

do n

30

midn

ight sun By the

m


who n e m

m

ld r go o f oil

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the queerest

they ever did

see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I c r e m a t e d

SAM m c ge e

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Illustrations by

Jamie Ludlam

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The Cremation of Sam Mcgee