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The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses

4.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  318 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses by Robert Service.
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published November 30th 1988 by Putnam Adult (first published 1907)
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Peter Pactor I am unfamiliar with Country Joe McDonald or "War. War. War." However, If you would like to read Robert Service's book, "Rhymes of a Red Cross Man," I…moreI am unfamiliar with Country Joe McDonald or "War. War. War." However, If you would like to read Robert Service's book, "Rhymes of a Red Cross Man," I think you will greatly appreciate it. I have read it before several years ago, and I am about to read it again.(less)
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14th out of 32 books — 18 voters
Little Women by Louisa May AlcottFor the Honor of the School by Ralph Henry BarbourThe Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.Sapho by Alphonse DaudetThe Shooting of Dan McGrew and Other Poems by Robert W. Service
Books Mentioned In This Side Of Paradise
36th out of 56 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

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The collection of poetry is very, very dear to my heart. My father owned this book, and despite its weight, carried it with him any time he went rock climbing or back packing. Later, when we were children sitting at the campfire Dad would recite the longer poems to us- Cremation of Sam McGee, Spell of the Yukon, and the Shooting of Dan McGrew- all from memory. They were good times.

I eventually found the exact same copy type that my dad had carried with him all those years at a library sale. No
Nov 08, 2007 sage rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, reviewed, canada
I find reviewing poetry really difficult, so I don't have anything particularly brilliant to say. I loved this book a lot. It's authentic Canadian pioneer days, gold rush stuff, and it's got the meter of Scottish drinking songs. I read quite a lot of it out loud -- couldn't help it, it begs to be sung if at all possible.

Parts are paeans to how awesome men (sic) who are strong and adventurous enough to survive life in the Yukon are and how they don't want any weaklings or cripples. Other parts ar
Peter Pactor
Jul 09, 2016 Peter Pactor rated it it was amazing
I have read this book several times, but I bought this copy, the 1907 edition, and decided to read it again.

Robert Service was Ronald Reagan's favorite poet, but he has been one of mine since I first heard "The Cremation of Sam McGee sixty years ago. Reading his works at different stages of my life has had different effects on me—all of them positive.

I enjoy how his words whack together, whether with internal rhyme, anaphora, alliteration, etc. They catch the flavor of the topic of his poem. T
Shana Feltham
This book is a compilation of poems talking about nature and adventure in the wilderness. I am not usually a big fan of poetry however, this book holds a particularly special memory to me. When I was younger, before my mom got both hips replaced and my dad both knees, together as a family we loved hiking. We would always adventure out on weekends to explore new trails and seek new sights, and every time we go out, we would bring this book. When we got to wherever we were going, or if we sat down ...more
Jun 05, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Guys and fur traders.
A poet of such power and simplicity deserves better than the long-winded analysis elsewhere. Service is funny, earthy, and a great writer.
"The cremation of Dan McGee" is one of the best poems ever.."The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see..."
Samuel Wells
Apr 24, 2016 Samuel Wells rated it really liked it
Robert Service was a poet of wild places and raw humanity. Yet his metrical poetry rhymes to the beat of a human heart. It can be muscular and irreverent at times but it is truly a human voice worth knowing. In this collection are gathered: The Cremation of Sam McGee, The Spell of the Yukon, The Pines, and many more. There are still alive today those that will quote Robert Service if the night is just right and the campfire smolders to a comfortable glow. A new generation might stoke these flame ...more
Jul 06, 2014 Al rated it liked it
Robert Service, the bard of the Yukon, was born in England. While he knocked about a bit as a youth, he mostly worked in banks in Canada. His rough verses celebrate the hard, dangerous life of the loners who worked and fought in the wildernesses of the world, particularly the Yukon. Despite the condescensions of contemporary poets, his work was wildly popular and ultimately made him rich. A prolific writer, he went on to write novels and many other volumes of verse. This was his first published ...more
Rebecca Lewitt
Mar 13, 2014 Rebecca Lewitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting view of life in the Yukon. Gritty at times. I liked best the poems about nature, but the story poems were interesting too.
Mark Nenadov
Great poems!
May 27, 2013 Ron rated it it was ok
Shelves: early-westerns
Robert W. Service (1874-1958) burst upon the scene in 1907 with this collection of poems, published first in Canada as Songs of a Sourdough, where it was an immediate success. Born of a Scots family in England, he was living at the time in Whitehorse, Yukon, as an employee of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. He had already knocked about the West from Mexico to Vancouver. The bank job seems to have been an attempt to settle down and draw a regular paycheck.

He had been writing poems from boyhood and
Feb 19, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it
One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather reading to me from this tome, so I was delighted to recently rediscover Robert Service. I am not generally a fan of poetry collections, but this one is special. Robert Service had a magical knack for putting the beauty of Alaska into poetry. Though most readers know him for his humor and storytelling, for me his strongest suit is his ability to put grandeur and emotion into words. His ability to describe the feelings from listening to piano music ...more
Joanne G.
Feb 28, 2011 Joanne G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was helping to clean out my mother-in-law's home after her death, I found this tiny volume printed in 1907. It was given as a graduation gift to someone in our family, but everyone is gone who could have told me. My husband had been watching a show about gold mining in Alaska; the show and the scenery intrigued me into reading the book. What a difficult time people had at the turn of the previous century in merely surviving in the wild Yukon, much less finding their fortune. Service's poe ...more
Jan 18, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"But the stars throng out in their glory,
And they sing of the God in man;
They sing of the Mighty Master,
Of the loom his fingers span,
Where a star or a soul is part of the whole,
And weft in the wondrous plan."
Montana Prince
Mar 04, 2014 Montana Prince rated it it was amazing
Robert Service has an interesting perspective on life and nature. He does have some really odd stuff here, even harsh and hard to take. But he does capture, I believe, the spirit of many of those who went to the frozen north more than 100 years ago to seek wealth in the gold fields. "The Cremation of Sam McGee" is one of my favorites. And I heard it was one of Pres. Ronald Reagan's favorites too.

This book is in the public domain and I downloaded it free on the Kindle App on my Android phone.
Oct 10, 2015 Kara rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
This author is the Banjo Patterson equivalent of the Yukon/Alaska. The poems are fun, and evoke a different era.
Ted Ryan
Dec 31, 2014 Ted Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Odd, fun and odd some more. Poetry.
Mar 12, 2008 Greg rated it liked it
Service was a Brit who was drawn by the lure of the Yukon in the 19th Century. He wrote some great poems about the pull of nature and adventure, a common reaction to the Industrial Revolution and it's constraints on freedom and nature. Unfortunately, they are all pretty similar. Still, good stuff and easy to read. A kid would appreciate these poems, if you could get one to read them.
Erin Thomas
Apr 23, 2016 Erin Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Very old book. Typefacing is too wide, forcing most of the lines to wrap. But, it's a book I prize dearly because it's from one of my favorite poets and it's more than a century old.
Wendy Bertsch
Oct 20, 2015 Wendy Bertsch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even the most amusing of the poems carry a sense of the grim challenge of life in the Yukon. The rhythm is insistent and compelling. Best read aloud...even if you're alone.
Christina Stanger
Jul 12, 2013 Christina Stanger rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book of all time. The land that god forgot is my favorite poem of all of the poems as well as The Cremation Of Sam McGee. They are all perfectly lovely though.
Brian Cooke
Jul 27, 2011 Brian Cooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this made me want to run outside and make a start for the nearest mountain. It's been a long time since something spurred the naturalist in me to this extent.
Aug 27, 2012 itpdx rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Among Service's famous tried and true rhymes, I found a new favorite, "The Tramps". The racism and sexism of the day pops into some of his poems.
Mar 01, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it
An energetic, blistering poetic account of Robert Service's Yukon experiences. I like to think of him as the Jack London of poetry.
Jun 24, 2008 Khinna rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I read a lot of Robert Service, while in Alaska. He made Alaska an bleak, unknown... Alaska is nothing like the lower 48...
Jan 25, 2011 JeanAnn rated it really liked it
Recommended to JeanAnn by:
Reviewed by Bill, January 2011

So good to hear read aloud by Bill.
Feb 05, 2013 London rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Shelf: Rejected until further notice.
Floyd Mann
Nov 30, 2010 Floyd Mann rated it really liked it
Recommended to Floyd by: Tom Camp
Dark, powerful stuff.
Chris Brimmer
Jun 03, 2009 Chris Brimmer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Just plain fun.
Jonathan Crabb
Jonathan Crabb is currently reading it
Aug 23, 2016
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Robert William Service was born into a Scottish family while they were living in Preston, England. He was schooled in Scotland, attending Hillhead High School in Glasgow. He moved to Canada at the age of 21 when he gave up his job working in a Glasgow bank, and traveled to Vancouver Island, British Columbia with his Buffalo Bill outfit and dreams of becoming a cowboy.

He drifted around western Nor
More about Robert W. Service...

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“There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t 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.”
“Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, grovelled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
'Done things' just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendours, heard the text that nature renders?
(You'll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things–
Then listen to the wild–it's calling you.”
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