Wild West Podcast proudly presents "The Cremation of Sam McGee," which is dedicated to Penny, the producer's sister-in-law.
What if you found yourself on a chilling Yukon trail, faced with a daunting promise to a dying friend? Prepare to journey along with us as we explore Robert Service's poetic masterpiece, "The Cremation of Sam McGee". This episode encapsulates the striking paradox of Service's grim, yet hopeful, narrative set amidst the harsh realities of the Klondike Gold Rush. As we traverse the icy trails and chilling winds of this narrative, we'll also get a glimpse into Service's own wandering journey and his experiences in the small town of Whitehorse, where he found the inspiration for this unforgettable tale.
Can't get enough of spine-tingling stories? Then brace yourself for the second half of our episode, where we present an enthralling narration of "The Cremation of Sam McGee". Get ready to immerse yourself in the strange happenings under the midnight sun, the secret tales of the Arctic trails, and the chilling yet captivating cremation of Sam McGee on the shores of Lake Labarge. As our journey concludes, we'll delve into the poem's enduring legacy, its publication in Songs of a Sourdough in 1907, and the real-life inspiration behind this poignant ballad. Here's to a poetic adventure filled with wonder, grim realities, and a glittering ray of hope!
Everything in a life's experience is true, to the sometimes harshness of realities. What about you? Do you embrace it or do you try to ignore what is true to your own realities? Everything comes from the denial of a presence, but everything comes from accepting one's existence. The following is a narrative poem written by Robert Service, composed during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896 to 1899. It is the story of two friends mushing their way along the Dawson Trail scavenging for gold. Even though the story, in poetic terms, starts to be a grim tale, it leads to wonder, something that sparkles to the disparity of hope on the eve of a Christmas day. Service, like his stories, was a wanderer who rarely settled for long in one place. In 1895, he made his way to British Columbia, worked as a store clerk in Cowichan Bay and wrote poems and published them in the Daily Colonist, a Victoria newspaper. By 1903, he was working at a bank in Victoria. Head office sent him off to the new small town of Whitehorse, established in the frenzy of the Klondike Gold Rush and now in need of a bank. This is where he found the words to a ballad you are about to hear While the West podcast proudly presents the Cremation of Sam McGee, which is dedicated to Penny, the producer's sister-in-law. The Cremation of Sam McGee, published in 1907. 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 march of Lake Labarge I cremated Sam McGee. Now, sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows. While he left his home in the south through home 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 mushin' our way over the Dawson Trail, tocky or cold, through the park's fold. It stabbed like a driven nail. If our eyes we'd closed, 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 or head were dancing heel and toe, he turned to me and capped, says he, I'll cash in this trip. I guess and if I do I'm askin' that you won't refuse my last request. Well, he seems 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, clinging through to the bone, yet taint bein' 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 me true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains. Now, a promise made is a dead unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code In the days to come, though, my lips were numb 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. Oh God, how I loathed that thing. And every day that quiet clay seemed a 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 swore I would not give in. And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it harkened with a grin Till I came to the marge of Lake Labarge and a derelict there to lay. It was jammed in the ice. But I saw on 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 I said with a sudden cry, is my crematorium. Some planks. I tore from the cabin floor and I lit the boiler fire. Some coal. I found that was lying round and I heaped the fuel higher. The flames just soared and the furnace roared such a blaze you seldom see. And I borrowed 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 icky 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 here 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 heat of the furnace roar. When 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 Plum Tree 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 tails 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 march of Lake Labarge I cremated Sam McGee. The cremation of Sam McGee is among the most famous of Robert W Service's poems. It was published in 1907 in Songs of a Sourdough. A sourdough, in this sense is a resident of the Yukon. The ballad is based in part on an experience of one of Service's close friends, dr Leonard Sudgein, who had to cremate the body of a miner whom he found on an abandoned steamer. The All of May Service makes it the Alice May because the ground was too frozen to allow for a burial.