Every time I visit Canada’s spectacular Yukon Territory, I especially look forward to spending some time in Dawson City, the epicenter of the infamous Klondike Gold Rush. The historic buildings, wood sidewalks, dirt roads, and interesting people always make for a good time. But, this small town also harbors a ghost from the past, and his name is Robert Service.
I can recall even today how, as a Junior High School student, we were forced to memorize one of Robert Service’s finest poems, The Cremation of Sam McGee. That poem gave me the willies even as a child, but having now been to the Yukon these many times, I really appreciate the nuances of the poem. In fact, I always stop at Yukon’s Lake LaBarge, where the “cremation” takes place and listen to a rendition of the poem by the late Johnny Cash, who recites it in such a way that it will give you goosebumps… guaranteed.
One of my favorite Service poems is the one above, inscribed on a wall of a building in Dawson City. I hope it captures for you what it does for me, and that is that life cannot be just about money. There is so much more; love, family, passion, helping others. And sometimes, stopping to smell the roses and reading poems that illuminate the human condition.