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Robert William Service

Robert William Service


Poet: Robert William Service

Dates: 16 January 1874 – 11 September 1958

Nationality: Canadian

Title of Poem: To The Man Of The High North

My rhymes are rough, and often in my rhyming
I’ve drifted, silver-sailed, on seas of dream,
Hearing afar the bells of Elfland chiming,
Seeing the groves of Arcadie agleam.

I was the thrall of Beauty that rejoices
From peak snow-diademed to regal star;
Yet to mine aerie ever pierced the voices,
The pregnant voices of the Things That Are.

The Here, the Now, the vast Forlorn around us;
The gold-delirium, the ferine strife;
The lusts that lure us on, the hates that hound us;
Our red rags in the patch-work quilt of Life.

The nameless men who nameless rivers travel,
And in strange valleys greet strange deaths alone;
The grim, intrepid ones who would unravel
The mysteries that shroud the Polar Zone.

These will I sing, and if one of you linger
Over my pages in the Long, Long Night,
And on some lone line lay a calloused finger,
Saying: “Lo! It’s human-true–it hits me right”;
Then will I count this loving toil well spent;
Then will I dream awhile–content, content.

 Brief Biography: Service was a writer and poet, known as the Bard of the Yukon. His imagery depicting life and the people of Yukon give the impression he was part of the Klondike gold rush but in fact he was a bank clerk. Considered doggerel by the literary set of the day his poems are amongst the best-selling of the time. Service described is work as verse and not poetry. During WW1 Service was a journalist for the Toronto Star as he was unable to serve in the military due to his health.