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The Cremation Of Sam Mcgee - Poem by Robert William Service

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

Comments about The Cremation Of Sam Mcgee by Robert William Service

  • Gold Star - 44,271 Points * Sunprincess * (6/22/2014 7:40:00 PM)

    .......loved reading this write.....for a minute I almost thought this was a true story...enjoyed the whole poem but the ending was especially captivating.... (Report) Reply

    17 person liked.
    19 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 91,779 Points Gajanan Mishra (6/18/2014 8:34:00 PM)

    strange things in midnight sun, thanks. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,483 Points Birgitta Abimbola Heikka (6/18/2014 6:23:00 PM)

    Very enjoyable and interesting poem. (Report) Reply

Read all 27 comments »

Poems About Cold

  1. 1. The Cremation Of Sam Mcgee , Robert William Service
  2. 2. Common Cold , Ogden Nash
  3. 3. Goody Blake And Harry Gill , William Wordsworth
  4. 4. A Song Of Winter Weather , Robert William Service
  5. 5. Cold Iron , Rudyard Kipling
  6. 6. Rosalind And Helen: A Modern Eclogue , Percy Bysshe Shelley
  7. 7. The Widow , Robert Southey
  8. 8. The House Of Dust: Complete , Conrad Potter Aiken
  9. 9. Da Leetla Boy , Thomas Augustine Daly
  10. 10. The Cenci : A Tragedy In Five Acts , Percy Bysshe Shelley
  11. 11. The Little Match Girl , William Topaz McGonagall
  12. 12. Cold Dark Room , sandy nobody
  13. 13. The Bridal Of Pennacook , John Greenleaf Whittier
  14. 14. In Cold Spell, Just For A Little Warmth! , Khairul Ahsan
  15. 15. ' I Knew A Man Who' , Myrtle Thomas
  16. 16. The Creole Girl; Or, The Physician’s Story , Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Nor ..
  17. 17. Sea-Mews In Winter Time , Jean Ingelow
  18. 18. Give Your Heart To The Hawks , Robinson Jeffers
  19. 19. The Dreams That Came True , Jean Ingelow
  20. 20. It’s Cold Here. , Arsiema Berhane
  21. 21. *rubaiyat Of Invention And Innovation - .. , Jonathan ROBIN
  22. 22. A Child's Amaze , john tiong chunghoo
  23. 23. Sleeping On A Night Of Autumn Rain , Bai Juyi
  24. 24. Flos Lunae , Ernest Christopher Dowson
  25. 25. ***downpour*** , Dwi utami
  26. 26. In A Cold Cold Night , kanav justa
  27. 27. Back And Side Go Bare , William Stevenson
  28. 28. Remembers Of The Life Time , Ioan Rusu
  29. 29. Massa’s In De Cold Ground , Stephen C. Foster
  30. 30. The Crystal Lithium , James Marcus Schuyler
  31. 31. Alone , Kanishk Gupta
  32. 32. Water Falls , Louis A. Borgo
  33. 33. Villanelle , Victor James Daley
  34. 34. Jolly Good Ale And Old , William Stevenson
  35. 35. Ah, I Have The Crime, I Have The Crime -.. , starseven0 starseven0
  36. 36. My History Teacher , Gabriella Franco
  37. 37. Cold Nights , lady grace
  38. 38. Cold Day At Work , Nyota Yasulwe
  39. 39. Regret Of A Lunatic , Bette Kayley Jones
  40. 40. ~where The Polar Winds Blow , Adeline Foster
  41. 41. I Saw You Naked , Erica Francis
  42. 42. Dead Of Winter , David Wood
  43. 43. He's Really Crazy , Juan Olivarez
  44. 44. Curl Up On Cold Stone Steps , Terence George Craddock (aft ..
  45. 45. Winter , BurningDesire PhekoMotaung
  46. 46. Cold , Bragg Adocio
  47. 47. I Sit Alone... , DEEP DARK SOUL POET
  48. 48. Cold War , Aldo Kraas
  49. 49. When It Rains , Jessica Elizondo
  50. 50. Snows' Pretty Fall , MOHAMMAD SKATI
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