By Robert Service
“There are strange things done in the midnight sun,” declared Robert Service as he related the fulfillment of a dying prospector’s request. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” was based on one of many peculiar tales he heard upon his 1904 arrival in the Canadian frontier town of Whitehorse. Less than a decade after the Klondike gold rush, many natives and transplants remained to tell stories of the boom towns that sprang up with the sudden influx of miners, gamblers, barflies, and other fortune-seekers.
Service’s compelling verses — populated by One-Eyed Mike, Dangerous Dan McGrew, and other colorful characters — recapture the era’s venturesome spirit and vitality. Generations have fallen under the spell of these poems, which continue to enchant readers of all ages.