The Spell of the Yukon
By: Robert Service
The summit of the Chilkoot Pass, 1898
 
The Spell of the Yukon
 
I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scabbled 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 ourt 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?)
It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys 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 (damned good reason);
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it's been since the begining;
It seems it will be to the end.
 
 I've stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That's plumb-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 peeks 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.
 
The summer - no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness -
O God! how I'm stuck on it all.
 
The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
the white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I've bade'em good-by  - but I can't.
 
There's a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless;
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There's a land - oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back - and I will.
 
They're making my money diminish;
I'm sick of the taste of champgne.
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 sham-fight;
It's 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 isn't the gold that I'm wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, broad land 'way up yonder.
It's the forests where silance has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.
                                          R. Service
Service, Robert The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses, Philadelphia: Edward Stern & Co., Inc., 1911, Page 11-14
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