There are strange things done in the midnight sun By the men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales That would make your blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the queerest they ever did see Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows. He was always cold but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell; Though he'd often say in his homely way that he'd sooner live in Hell. On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail. Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail. If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see, It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee. And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow, And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe, He turned to me, and "Cap", says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess; And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request." Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan, "It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone Yet 'taint being dead-it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains; So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains. A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail; And we started on at the streak of dawn but God! he looked ghastly pale. He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee; And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee. There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given; It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say. "You may tax your brawn and brains, But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate these last remains". Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code, In the days to come, though my lips were dumb in my heart how I cursed that load! In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring, Howled out their woes to the homeless snows-- Oh God, how I loathed the thing! And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow; And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low. The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in; And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin. Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay; It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the Alice May, And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum; Then "Here", said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum"! Some planks I tore from the cabin floor and I lit the boiler fire; Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher; The flames just soared, and the furnace roared such a blaze you seldom see, And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee. Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so; And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow, It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why; And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky. I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear; But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near; I was sick with dread, but I bravely said, "I'll just take a peep inside. I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked". Then the door I opened wide. And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said, "Please close that door. It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm-- Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm". There are strange things done in the midnight sun By the men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales That would make your blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the queerest they ever did see Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee.
The Passing of the Year
My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise.
Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter's chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.
That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
Let us all read, whate'er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
What hath the Old Year meant to you?
And you, O neighbour on my right
So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope? O Optimist!
What read you in that withered face?
And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
What see you in the dying year?
And so from face to face I flit,
The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
Old weary year! it's time to go.
My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that's true,
For we've been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!