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The Best of Robert Service

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  377 ratings  ·  49 reviews
This new and revised edition of poems about the men and women of the North features the most loved ballads by Robert Service. This new and revised edition of poems about the men and women of the North features the most loved ballads by Robert Service, and is illustrated with lively art by Marilen Van Nimwegen. While living in Whitehorse, Robert Service wrote The Cremation ...more
Paperback, 126 pages
Published November 6th 2017 by Hancock House Publishers (first published 1907)
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Mike (the Paladin)
When I was in high school my "best subject" was public speaking (I know, the most feared thing in the world, public speaking. Maybe I'm put together wrong. Was it Seinfeld who pointed out that most people fear public speaking more than death...and that means that most people would rather be the corpse at a funeral than the speaker?) Anyway...we had to do a reading and while everyone else was doing Shakespeare or Poe, I read The Shooting of Dan McGrew.

I suppose the best know poem of Mr. Service
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cross-canada
If you are a lover of free verse, you will probably not appreciate the work of Robert Service,as he writes in a lilting rollicking meter with rhyming verse as his medium. Although I was familiar with offerings like The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew, I was unaware of the sheer scope of his poetry. If rhyming verse is a problem for you, I suggest you try to put it into the background and enjoy the bone-chilling descriptions of the Yukon and its beautiful unforgiving ...more
Kelsey Manning
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book mostly because it was fun to flip to a page and find a new poem to read. Maybe it is a poem that you have already read and are enjoying for the second time, but that is easy to do because all of the poems are so creative and interesting. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something interesting, sometimes with a twist at the end!
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book of poetry gets even better the second time around. Robert Service wrote heroic poems of the Yukon at the turn of the last century. Each is a ballad, an ode to the way of life, a frontier long passed. The accompanying contemporary photography carries the reader into the past. Great read. I will be quoting from it.
A deluxe edition of the works of Service, with stunning period photographs of the Yukon territory he immortalized through his incomparable verses. Photos are from the famed Kinsey collection, taken in the 1890s during the height of the Klondike gold rush.

Stunning pictures and truly, Robert Service is a wordsmith, deluxe! Such fun poetry to read.
Matthew Dambro
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He was known as the "Canadian Kipling". His work has been denigrated by the critics and called mere doggerel, but people still read him aloud and love his work. Although known for his Yukon poems, his range is astonishing. His style is as old as Beowulf and just as dramatic. His poetry is meant to be heard and not read. I loved the book.
Jeremiah Johnson
This is one of my all time favorites. I think I've owned at least four separate copies and have given just as many as gifts. Service writes with great honesty and painful comedy. His depiction of the human condition in the throes of upheaval, destitution, war, and celebration are warm and invigorating with choice points of poignant realism.
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, nonfiction, poetry
I was drawn to Robert Service by his depiction of scenes from Alaska and the Yukon, and he certainly doesn't disappoint. His lively narratives are told with a mastery of rhythm and humor, often accompanied by a clever twist at the end. This is a fun and thought-provoking read.
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readmostofit
I rarely read poems and don't know much about them but I really enjoyed Robert Service. His depiction of the wild north is great. At times beautiful, at times harsh, and often both at the same time. Some of the poems were so funny that I laughed so hard I cried.
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strange...but true. My grandmother had 'The Cremation of Sam McGee' memorized, my Dad has it memorized, and boy I am trying to get the thing memorized. A family heirloom of sorts! I really want the children's book of 'The Cremation of Sam McGee' for my kiddos!
Jack Heath
Apr 06, 2019 marked it as to-read
Synopsis: The Shooting of Dan McGrew and the Cremation of Sam McGee were written by Service in Canada's Yukon during the gold rush era.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this book belonged to my grandfather that recently passed away. I inherited it. Some of these poems I have heard him read so many times that I can hear him reading them. It is precious to me.
Tanya Procknow
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Quitter is still my favorite.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short collection of poems about gold prospectors. Even after spreading it out over the course of a few days, I grew tired of the dramatic monologues, ballads, and just the general aggrandizing and documenting of the Yukon gold rush. I would acknowledge, however, that this may also be what makes Service's poems great. They seem written by someone (and for someone) who has worked and who has passed the time working by reciting verse. These poems have catchy rhyme schemes and a playfully ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good collection of his works covering a number of topics. I was familiar with his famous works about the Yukon and have been able to quote sections of "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" since I was a kid, but this introduced me to his poems on other topics.

I definitely found it handy to have my phone nearby to look up older terminology!

Poems tended to be about nature, living hard and working hard.

I actually discovered one of his poems ("Pantheist") that seems like
Benjamin Wallace
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A man who clearly knew and experienced life in the glory of the outdoors. Service writes of mountains, love, and life with clear sight and masterful clarity.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems I prefer doggerel to intellectual poetry.
Dec 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
More reviews can be found on my book blog.

I started reading this nearly two and a half years ago, just after my dad passed away, because The Cremation of Sam McGee was a poem he used to recite in his youth at his Masonic meetings. I really enjoyed that one, but then put it on my shelf after only reading half the poems in the book, forgetting about it entirely. It wasn't until recently when I happened to notice the bookmark in it that I remembered never having actually finished it.

Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, read-2009
When I first bought this book 10 or 15 years ago, I read a few of the poems and put it aside. I picked it up again a few weeks ago and have now read the entire book. Robert Service is a great storyteller who communicates through rhymed verse. Once I was able to get beyond the rhyming, I enjoyed what I read. During his lifetime (1874 - 1958), he actually made a living from his poetry. One poem, The Shooting of Dan McGrew, supposedly brought him half a million dollars by itself. He wrote poetry ...more
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this. Sure, its not the most intellectual of verse, but it is full of pleasant, poignant wisdom, humor and reflection. Service is required reading in my adopted state of Alaska, so I really picked this one up trying to fit in with the crowd. It far exceeded expectations. His "ballads of the north" are enjoyable and, having frozen my posterior off for now 13 Alaskan winters, I think he captured the arctic spirit spot on, but it was his other work to hit me most. Go ahead and skim ...more
Casey Hampton
Apr 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A brief and enjoyable collection of Robert Service. I found the first half more engaging than the latter, but there are gems scattered throughout this work. The style of Service does show its age, his representation of minorities and women are certainly a reflection of his time. I think he's best when he doesn't aim for profundity. In the same way that the most beautiful laughter is that laughter which be authentic, Service is most true to his style when he turns his back to the reader and just ...more
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Nothing too deep, everything is rhymed and metered, a lot of the sentiment is pretty corny. The adventure poems about the Yukon are great, I think they inspired some of the Don Rosa Scrooge McDuck stuff. Probably to blame for some of those Inspector Murdoch episodes, too.

The Great War poems aren't bad, considering. The Paris Bohemian poems are sweet. There is a set of folk-philosophizing that I felt was kind of weak. Probably the best poem in here is the one about the Pullman Porter.

Wendy Joyce
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you can find the large, illustrated edition, buy it! It's more than worth the extra money. The century-old photographs accompanying the poems take you right into the heart of Alaska, the trials, the hardships, the vigor of the men, the stamina of the women. While Service's poems have an innocent beat to them, like a Dr. Seuss's story, his language, par for the day, is candid and passionate.
Wendy Joyce
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This isn't the edition I read. The one that I read has 6 of Robert Service's poems that are sure to be "the best of"s. They are excellent poems that put a picture in your head and a smile on your face. I learned about Robert Service while I was in Alaska and was not disappointed by his work. Since Alaska inspired Mr. Service it was appropriate and fun to read them while there. However, my husband has been reading the poems and he enjoys them as much as I even though he has never seen the likes ...more
Scott Thompson
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love the outdoors, and so does Robert Service. He connects to the natural through his words and shows us God in nature. I don’t like to digest poetry books in one sitting. I like to read a little at a time. Good poetry should be absorbed like a fine wine, slowly.
I have this book on my Kindle smart phone app. Now it is always close to me when I need a break from the paved world.
Sep 02, 2011 rated it liked it
There are some old favorites in this collection like "The Cremation of Sam McGee." There are some thoughtful poems on such subjects as the true value of work, money, simple life, etc. Some are bawdy and irreverent. Others are beautiful. Some are gruesome and gritty. They are all written from the varied life he lead.
Aug 26, 2009 rated it liked it
A few standout poems in this collection: "The Cremation of Sam McGee", "The Spell of the Yukon", "The Last Bus to Heaven", "Contentment" and "The Wonder" (?? - not sure of the title - about the marvels of the various functions of the human body and its senses).
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poetry lovers, adventurers
Recommended to Ginny by: My dad
I fell in love with Service's ability to weave a compelling story in verse when I was 8 and heard "The Cremation of Sam McGee" for the first time. Other especially great poems are "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," "My Madonna," and "Duello."
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
His poetry about love and nature and family is so spot on. Love his verse.
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Served as s a good palette cleaner between books.
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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