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Robert Service

Robert Service

ROBERT SERVICE: The Spell of the Yukon

The Spell of the Yukon

(Fragment)
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?)
   Its’ the cussedest land that I know,
From the biggest, screen mountains that screen it
   To the deep, deathlike valley below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
   Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe, but there’s some as would trade it
   For no land on earth – and I’m one.

You come to get rich (dammed good reason);
   You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
   And then you are worse than worst.
It grips you like some kind of sinning;
   It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it’s been since the beginning;
   It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow  
   That’s plump-full of hush to the brim;
I’ve watched the big husky sun wallow
   In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
   And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
   With the peace o’ the world piled on top.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
   And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and nameless,
   And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardship that nobody recons;
   There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s land – oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want go back – and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;
   I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God, when I’m skinned to a finish
   I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
I’ll fight – and you bet it’s no shame-fight;
   Its hell, but I’ve been there before;
And it’s better than this by a damsite –
   So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
   It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it’s not the gold that I’m wanting
   So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
   It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
   It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.



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