Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sam McGee

When I was a kid, my dad liked to recite things.

He recited an old Robert Service poem most often.
It was about cremation, but sometimes he'd whip it out at the dinner table.
Just like that.
No occassion barred the telling of the tale of Sam McGee.
There wasn't really a rhyme or reason as to why he'd recite it when he did. It just popped out every once in a while. Generally once a week or so.
It's been a while since I've seen my Dad. But somehow, from time to time, it pops up on its own.
On my way home from the metro last night, the words jumped into my head.

Goes like this:

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.

3 comments:

julasaurus 8:13 AM  

He would recite the whole thing everytime, or just the passage in bold?

Kelsi 8:23 AM  

I'm pretty sure he knows the whole thing, but usually someone who's heard it a thousand times cuts him off after the bold or a few lines longer.

Macleigh 3:26 PM  

I know this whole poem. Grandpa Carpenter knew it too. I think I have to do my kids the same justice. Pop doesn't know the whole thing quite yet.