Maps and Geography
Comments and Thoughts
to the Book
book makes reference to the poetry of Robert W. Service, and specific
mention of the two poems reprinted below.
The books states that Big Lindsay Vanderbeck was a renowned poet in
that area. If any one has any information on any of his poems, please send
us an email using the email address at the bottom of the left column of
Note: Because this web site originates in the U.S., the poems are
reprinted here legally under U.S. copyright law.
Men of the High North
by Robert W. Service
Men of the High North, the wild sky is blazing;
Islands of opal float on silver seas;
Swift splendors kindle, barbaric, amazing;
Pale ports of amber, golden argosies.
Ringed all around us the proud peaks are glowing;
Fierce chiefs in council, their wigwam the sky;
Far, far below us the big Yukon flowing,
Like threaded quicksilver, gleams to the eye.
Men of the High North, you who have known it;
You in whose hearts its splendors have abode;
Can you renounce it, can you disown it?
Can you forget it, its glory and its goad?
Where is the hardship, where is the pain of it?
Lost in the limbo of things you've forgot;
Only remain the guerdon and gain of it;
Zest of the foray, and God, how you fought!
You who have made good, you foreign faring;
You money magic to far lands has whirled;
Can you forget those days of vast daring,
There with your soul on the Top o' the World?
Nights when no peril could keep you awake on
Spruce boughs you spread for your couch in the snow;
Taste all your feasts like the beans and the bacon
Fried at the camp-fire at forty below?
Can you remember your huskies all going,
Barking with joy and their brushes in air;
You in your parka, glad-eyed and glowing,
Monarch, your subjects the wolf and the bear?
Monarch, your kingdom unravisht and gleaming;
Mountains your throne, and a river your car;
Crash of a bull moose to rouse you from dreaming;
Forest your couch, and your candle a star.
You who this faint day the High North is luring
Unto her vastness, taintlessly sweet;
You who are steel-braced, straight-lipped, enduring,
Dreadless in danger and dire in defeat:
Honor the High North ever and ever,
Whether she crown you, or whether she slay;
Suffer her fury, cherish and love her--
He who would rule he must learn to obey.
Men of the High North, fierce mountains love you;
Proud rivers leap when you ride on their breast.
See, the austere sky, pensive above you,
Dons all her jewels to smile on your rest.
Children of Freedom, scornful of frontiers,
We who are weaklings honor your worth.
Lords of the wilderness, Princes of Pioneers,
Let's have a rouse that will ring round the earth.
The Shooting of Dan
by Robert W. Service
A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, the lady that's known as Lou.
When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the
There was none could place the stranger's face, though we searched
ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.
There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he'd do,
And I turned my head--and there watching him was the lady that's known as
His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway,
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands--my God! but that man could
Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A helf-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called
While high overhead, green, yellow, and red, the North Lights swept in
Then you've a hunch what the music meant...hunger and might and the stars.
And hunger not of the belly kind, that's banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowded with a woman's love--
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true--
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge,--the lady that's known as
Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil's
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
'Twas the crowning cry of a heart's despair, and it thrilled you through
"I guess I'll make it a spread misere," said Dangerous Dan
The music almost dies away...then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay," and my eyes were blind
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill...then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was
And "Boys," says he, "you don't know me, and none of you
care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I'll bet my poke
That one of you is a hound of hell...and that one is Dan McGrew."
Then I ducked my head and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady
that's known as Lou.
These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with "hooch," and I'm not
denying it's so.
I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two--
The woman that kissed him and--pinched his poke--was the lady known as