Robert Service Poems Read by Buckwheat Donahue

Buckwheat Donahue of Skagway, a captivating storyteller, entertainer, historian, and adventurer reads some of the best known poems by Robert Service, Poet Laureate of the Yukon.

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Points of Interest

Meet Robert Ser­vice, Poet Lau­re­ate of the Yukon. Buck­wheat briefly recounts the per­son­al life of Mr. Ser­vice and the his­tor­i­cal con­text of his writings.

Learn the mean­ing of the Alaskan slang words cheechako’ and sour­dough’.

Robert Ser­vice’s back­ground plays a large role in his works. Find out which nation­al her­itage influ­ences him the most.

Says I to my Mis­sis: Ba goom, lass! you’ve some­thing I see, on your mind.” Says she: You are right, Sam, I’ve some­thing. It appens it’s on me be’ind. A Boil as ud make Job jeal­ous. It urts me no end when I sit.”? Says I: Go to ospit­tel, Mis­sis. They might ave to coot it a bit.”? Says she: I just ate to be showin’ the part of me per­son it’s at.” Says I: Don’t be fussy; them doc­tors see sights more orrid than that.” So Miss­es goes…  ...more

There once was a Square, such a square lit­tle Square, And he loved a trim Tri­an­gle; But she was a flirt and around her skirt Vain­ly she made him dan­gle. Oh he want­ed to wed and he had no dread Of domes­tic woes and wran­gles; For he thought that his fate was to pro­cre­ate Cute lit­tle Squares and Tri­an­gles. Now it hap­pened one day on that geo­met­ric way There swag­gered a big bold Cube, With a haughty stare and he made that Square Have the air of a…  ...more

I want­ed the gold, and I sought it, I scrab­bled and mucked like a slave. Was it famine or scurvy — I fought it; I hurled my youth into a grave. I want­ed the gold, and I got it — Came out with a for­tune last fall, — Yet some­how life’s not what I thought it, And some­how the gold isn’t all. No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?) It’s the cussedest land that I know, From the big, dizzy moun­tains that screen it To the deep, death­like valleys…  ...more

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…  ...more

The word harpy’ has it’s roots in Greek and Roman mythol­o­gy. Learn more about its mean­ing in the con­text of Robert Ser­vice’s Poem.

There was a woman, and she was wise; woe­ful­ly wise was she; She was old, so old, yet her years all told were but a score and three; And she knew by heart, from fin­ish to start, the Book of Iniq­ui­ty. There is no hope for such as I on earth, nor yet in Heav­en; Unloved I live, unloved I die, unpitied, unfor­giv­en; A loathèd jade, I ply my trade, unhal­lowed and unshriv­en. I paint my cheeks, for they are white, and cheeks of chalk men hate; Mine…  ...more

I Let oth­ers sing of gold and gear, the joy of being rich; But oh, the days when I was poor, a vagrant in a ditch! When every dawn was like a gem, so radi­ant and rare, And I had but a sin­gle coat, and not a sin­gle care; When I would feast right roy­al­ly on bacon, bread and beer, And dig into a stack of hay and doze like any peer; When I would wash beside a brook my soli­tary shirt, And though it dried upon my back I nev­er took a hurt; When I…  ...more

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in, A race that can’t stay still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and they rove the flood, And they climb the moun­tain’s crest; Theirs is the curse of the gyp­sy blood, And they don’t know how to rest. If they just went straight they might go far; They are strong and brave and true; But they’re always tired of the things that are, And they want…  ...more

A bunch of the boys were whoop­ing it up in the Mala­mute saloon; The kid that han­dles the music-box was hit­ting a jag-time tune; Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dan­ger­ous Dan McGrew, And watch­ing his luck was his light‑o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou. When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare, There stum­bled a min­er fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear. He looked like a man with a…  ...more

One pearly day in ear­ly May I walked upon the sand And saw, say half a mile away, a man with gun in hand. A dog was cow­er­ing to his will as slow he sought to creep Upon a dozen ducks so still they seemed to be asleep. When like a streak the dog dashed out, the ducks flashed up in flight. The fel­low gave a sav­age shout and cursed with all his might. Then as I stood some­what amazed and gazed with eyes agog, With bit­ter rage his gun he…  ...more