He crossed the Atlantic as a steerage passenger to Montreal, took a “colonist” train to Canada’s west coast, and ended up as a farm laborer on Vancouver Island. Imagism flourished in Britain and in the United States for a brief period that is generally considered to be somewhere between 1909 a…, The Creative Center: Narrative Description, The Criminal Jury System Is the Best Means to Secure Justice, The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, The Criswell College: Narrative Description, http://www.interchange.ubc.ca/service/index.htm, https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/cremation-sam-mcgee. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. The great gold rushes of the 1800s were an aspect of frontier movements on three continents. In his autobiography, Service claims to have worked as a tunnel builder in Oakland, a handyman in a San Diego brothel, and a guitar-playing singer in Colorado. Rather, he learned of the 1898 Gold Rush through conversations with old-timers and the research of old records. It was there that he was exposed to the rough and tumble world of the gold miners and other outdoorsmen of the Canadian northwest. Edited by W. H. New, University of British Columbia. But in contrast to this biting cold, the poem also reflects on Sam’s home state, Tennessee, and the warmth that Sam remembers there. STYLE The frozen corpse of Sam McGee “talks” to Cap and listens (“harkens”) when he sings to it. Style When they arrive at “the marge of Lake Lebarge” the narrator finds an old, derelict steam boat, an image of death and ruin. c. 1909 Poem Text No one should underestimate the brilliance of a poet, Service included, but it is worth noting that “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee” would not be as strong in a different poetic form. Service resigned from the bank at the end of March, 1896, to emigrate to North America. Because the location was so remote and getting to the strike was a difficult journey, it wasn’t until 1898 that the “gold rush” actually began in. Compile a list of what a modern day prospector might need for a six-month journey into the Yukon wilderness. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. The very fact that days and nights are much different than they are in the lower 48 creates an atmosphere of disorientation. A ballad is a poetic form that tells a tale, usually in a very rhythmic fashion. Friendship. it tells a story. Service used this same publication practice in other verses, including “The Ballad of One-eyed Mike.” Such stanzas function like the choruses of ancient Greek dramas. Throughout the poem, Cap is active, moving across the ice and snow. STYLE The admonition to close the door or the cold will get in contrasts with Sam’s earlier situation where he whimpered and slept beneath the snow. The rhyme pattern of the present verse is abcb defe and the meter is a lilting iambic pattern, with four and three beats in alternating lines. From the finding of Sam’s corpse in stanza 6 to Cap’s wandering just after stuffing Sam into the fire, the poem does not mention the cold. Cap’s arrival at the shores of Lake Lebarge signals a shift in mood and action. Thus, he requests to be cremated. A It relates to the strange things that happen in the midnight sun. In 1913, Service arrived in Paris. FURTHER READI…, Kilroy is an elegant poem crafted at the skilled hands of a celebrated Canadian poet Robert W. Service, but the measurement of skill in a poet’s ability should surpass the common elements of poetry like imagery, simile, diction, and metaphor. These kinds of poems, “‘They understood him, and knew that [his] verse … would be a lilting thing, clear, clean and power-packed, beating out a story with a dramatic intensity that made the nerves tingle.’”. Service was never a miner. Along with “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and other poems for the book Songs of a Sourdough, “The Cremation of Sam McGee” exhibits the elements that mark Service’s style: internal rhymes, stressed rhythms, a dash of stereotypical Yukon machismo (“manliness”), ironic and slightly macabre humor, and a smattering of Klondike slang and jargon. Service’s ballad-form poem sets up a rhyme scheme (aabb) and holds it consistently throughout every quatrain. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is a popular ballad, meant to entertain and amuse readers, but a theme about the meaning of friendship and respecting and honouring the wishes—however gruesome—of a friend does emerge from the plot. Ignoring the eight-line opening, the poem follows a regular pattern of four-line stanzas composed of two rhyming couplets. In this task you will read and analyze Robert W. Service’s narrative poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” This poem is a frontier ballad that describes the hardships of the life of prospectors in the Yukon, a region in Northwest Canada where many prospectors traveled during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s. Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. At the word “sizzle,” in stanza 12, the thaw of the poem begins. HISTORICAL CONTEXT The Cremation of Sam McGee is among the most famous of Robert W. Service’s poems. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. An obvious reflection of Service’s youth in the Yukon is much reliance on images of the north county, including the northern lights (the Aurora Borealis), sparkling stars, scowling heavens, and the sky seen through the smoke of a fire. Cap finds Sam dead by nightfall the next day. Even before Service uses the word “cold,” he chills the reader by introducing the “midnight sun,” “the Arctic trails,” and “the Northern Lights.” The inclusion of icy Lake LaBarge reinforces the feeling of coldness. Reread the bolded lines from Stanza 2 of the poem. This section begins by suggesting the oppressive bleakness of the previous nine stanzas will continue. SOURCES Into this blaze Cap stuffs the body of Sam McGee. But, from the opening lines, Service talks of “tales / That would make your blood run cold” and includes at least one reference to death in succeeding stanzas. Sam is frozen solid, and Cap, the speaker, appears to be fighting a descent into madness. The Cremation of Sam McGee "The Cremation of Sam McGee" is among the most famous of Robert W. Service's (1874–1958) poems. rising action. The unexpected sight of Sam McGee sitting in the middle of the fire presents a far more comic image than the scriptural portrayal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who come out of the furnance unscathed in the Book of Daniel. The Christmas Day trip over the Dawson trail begins the action of the poem in a bitter, menacing cold. Likewise, a character of “The Cremation of Sam McGee” poses a rather similar character trait as well. Author Biography The stamp depicts Sam McGee grinning out from an open fire on Lake Lebarge in the Yukon. The Cremation of Sam McGee has a narrative structure because it tells a story. Apparently this cremation happened on the "marge" (that just … When Cap returns later to the ship, he opens the furnace door to find Sam. Correct answers: 2 question: The cremation of Sam McGee Based on the tone of the poem, the speaker would most likely describe the Arctic setting as A. paradise B. The unnerving images of Lake Lebarge, and the secret tales of the Arctic have lost their power to chill. He did not tell the night watchman he was coming, and the startled watchman shot at Service, missing his head by inches. The tone of this poem is mournful because the speaker is expressing sorrow as he feels his friend is going to dies. An iamb is a two-syllable foot, with an accent on the second syllable; a foot is a metrical unit consisting of two or three syllables. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” reflects Robert W. Service’s knowledge of the Yukon territory, where he lived much of his early adult life. (A "sourdough", in this sense, is a resident of the Yukon.) Curse For many years serious criticism simply ignored Service’s work, or found it of limited interest. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is an elegant poem crafted at the skilled hands of a celebrated Canadian poet Robert W. Service, but the measurement of skill in a poet’s ability should surpass the common elements of poetry like imagery, simile, diction, and metaphor. Sam seems depressed, moans, looks “ghastly pale,” and becomes incoherent (“rave[s] all day”). Service continued to publish and remain active until his death from a heart attack on September 11, 1958. “The only society I like,” he once said, “is that which is rough and tough—and the tougher the better. Cap finds Sam’s frozen corpse on the sled at the end of stanza 6. Vol. What is an example of personificationin this poem? By the time Service publishes “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and embarks on his new career as a writer of verse, Klondike fever has evaporated and the attention of the world has turned to other matters. Service deserves a high-level of praise for his level of poetic skill, showcased in his legendary piece. Be sure to use specific evidence to support your response. These stanzas detail the speaker’s trials and tribulations with the frozen body of Sam McGee. It is this set of paired couplets in each quatrain that drives home every profound detail of the poem, keeps the reader tied into the narrative story, and paints a canvas with imagery in the mind’s eye of the reader or reciter. They don’t complain, but Sam not only complains, he “whimpers.”. Service prepares the reader for Sam’s demise. After Sam … The first thing that we might want to discuss is rhyme scheme. The continuing appeal of the poems about Sam McGee and Dan McGrew, however, rests not in any intellectual paradigm they employ but in the sly humor and metrical regularity that initially made them so readily adaptable to parlor performance. CRITICAL OVERVIEW © 2019 Encyclopedia.com | All rights reserved. I While Arthur Phelps recoiled from the “grotesque gruesomeness” of “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” he also claimed that the poem was, “At the word “sizzle,” in stanza 12, the thaw of the poem begins.”. Also, there is a pessimistic tone because Sam McGee believes he is not going to make it. So, as his dying wish, he asks our speaker to cremate him (which is a fancy way of saying "burn his … A tale of travel in the north woods would not be complete without mention of the dogs that pull the sleds. Praised in 1921 for their spontaneity and liveliness, Service’s rhymes have most often been lauded for their energy but criticized for their lack of “true” emotion. “There are strange things done in the midnight sun…”. An important aspect of Service’s style is the generous use of dialogue. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is written in the form of a ballad. By 1910 most of the population had left for Alaska and other regions. “a folk tale of unquestioned natural vitality.” Phelps further distinguished between readers with literary pretensions (who dismissed Service’s sentimentality, metronomic rhythms, simplicity, and limited range) and those who used these same criteria to praise his verse for being memorable, recitable, and sympathetic to ordinary people. Wanting to honor his friend’s final request, Cap hauls the frozen body of Sam McGee across the frozen land. For Cap, that means to keep moving. The concluding stanza, a repeat of the intro, leaves that rhythm in the mind as one ends the poem. CRITICISM The path to warmth has been clearly marked. Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. McGee sitting up and smiling. In this verse Service makes several references to the huskies, who lie in circles to keep themselves warm during the long, cold and windy nights. Source: Carl Mowery, in an essay for Poetry for Students, Gale, 2001. "The Cremation of Sam McGee In stanzas 4 and 5, Sam refers to “cash[ing] in” and makes his “last request.” The fear of the “icy grave” prompts him to exact the promise that Cap will “cremate [his] last remains.”. Service deserves a high-level of praise for his level of poetic skill, showcased in his legendary piece. The story of the speaker and Sam Mcgee (who was from Tennessee) who travel the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush just would not hold as strong of voice and tone in, say, a free verse style. Poetry for Students. Cremation is the name for burning a dead body to ashes, rather than burying it in the ground. Cap prepares the “cre-mator-eum,” unceremoniously “stuff[s] in Sam McGee,” and removes himself from the place because he does not “like to hear him sizzle so.” Having “wrestled with fear” and “sick with dread,” Cap checks to see what has happened to the body of Sam. What does the hot sweat on the cheek of the narrator represent? In this opening stanza, Service sets a mood of mystery and suspense. First, Sam states that he will “cash in this trip,” adding, “I guess,” which suggests more finality than uncertainty. What information do we early in the poem that is important to the plot? Service’s verses are marked by their playful rhythms and unusual rhyme schemes. Comparable to the traveler who stopped at nothing from keeping his promise, the speaker of “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is left alone, and he knows he has made a promise that he must keep. THEMES Such beliefs as “A pal’s last need is a thing to heed” and “a promise made is a debt unpaid” drive Cap to comply with Sam’s dying request. The intro stanza is written without an end rhyme scheme, but instead contains two stressed words in each line to prep the reader for the rhythm that awaits in the quatrains. sung by Europeans in the early fourteenth century. In other verses, like “The Shooting of Dan McGrew,” several speakers are active in telling the tale. Mossman, Tam, The Best of Robert Service, ed., Running Press, 1990. Neither the Lusitania nor the Titantic has sunk yet, and the World has not yet begun “the war to end all wars.” Things will become more complicated in a few short years, but Service can entertain his fascination for the Yukon, including his famous two thousand mile solo canoe trip before relocating to France and becoming a war correspondent for the Toronto Star during World War I. The stories in Service’s ballads are very easy to follow. Sam’s earlier insistence for cremation is also transformed from a morbid request to a signal that nothing untoward will happen. Yukon Territory in 1800's, Sam and Cap travel by dog sled looking for gold. Kirkpatrick, St. James Press, 1991. Without Cap’s help, Sam will die. "The Cremation of Sam McGee" is among the most famous of Robert W. Service's (1874–1958) poems. When he sees a timber boat nearby, however, … Some never came home at all. … That’s where you get down to bedrock and meet human people.” Those kinds of images, experiences and people fill much of his poetic output. They understood him, and knew that any verse carrying the by-line of Robert W. Service would be a lilting thing, clear, clean and power-packed, beating out a story with a dramatic intensity that made the nerves tingle.”. Some might say this poem is about salvation, but that argument would be difficult to make. 2002 Earlier strikes in California (1849), Australia (1851), and South Africa (1886) proved profitable for some who braved the weather and distances to lay claim to riches. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Yes, the content is appealing. Service had gone into a bank where he worked during the day looking for a quiet place to write. Service does this well in the ballad form, and it’s for all the reasons discussed above that the poem is known as an important work of literature. Despite the use of plain language, his characters and their stories mythologize the adventure and masculine vigor of life during the Klondike gold rush. POEM SUMMARY During this time Service became interested in film. The narrator has given his word to Sam and then endures severe hardships in order to keep his word. Sound clips are available at the website. It is this set of paired couplets in each quatrain that drives home every profound detail of the poem, keeps the reader tied into the narrative story, and paints a canvas with imagery in the mind’s eye of the reader or reciter. Many more, however, left with dreams of gold, but returned with a broken spirit and empty pockets. The twist of the final line of stanza 14 elicits a nod of admiration to Service for evoking humor from a man “freezing to death.”. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” - by Robert W. Service The Poem opens with a rhyming Octet explaining the subject of the work: There are strange things done in the midnight sun By the men who moil fo Compare & Contrast 12 Jan. 2021 . It concerns the cremation of a prospector who freezes to death near Lake Laberge (spelled "Lebarge" by Service), Yukon, Canada, as told by the man who cremates him. Although not directly stated, it appears Cap is preparing to retrieve Sam’s ashes as his final act of mourning. The Incineration of Sam McGee opens with a stanza that builds up the tone of the work, giving it a secretive air that the accompanying story will at that point unwind. But, the use of the verb “stuffed” in the last line of stanza 11 and the frenetic action of tearing out planks and lighting a fire begin the transition from the somber to the comic. "The Cremation of Sam McGee The speaker describes the cold in stark, uncompromising terms—it “stabbed like a driven nail” and froze eyelashes shut. While they are important to the telling of the story, they are not directly connected to it. Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows. In these stanzas, Sam tells the speaker (“Cap”) about his fear of being buried in an icy grave and makes Cap promise to cremate his corpse when he dies. Sam asks Cap to cremate his body is he dies, Cap agrees to cremate him. The story of a youth shipwrecked on an iceberg in the Arctic in 1757 with only a. In “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” many of the important parts of the story are carried along by the spoken words of its two characters, the unnamed narrator and Sam McGee. Both poets were very conscious of the language they used, often incorporating slang and jargon in their poetry. The speaker appears to be driven to the brink of madness. (January 12, 2021). Service makes use of a pun on the word “grisly” (calling to mind the grizzly bear) as he describes the narrator’s wait in the snow while the fire burns up Sam’s remains. Service has also been strongly compared to Rudyard Kipling and is sometimes called “The Canadian Kipling.” Service adopted similar rhythmic and rhyming approaches as well as the occasional use of the italicized stanzas that are found in the poetry of Kipling. Home Blog the cremation of sam mcgee setting . The cremation of Sam McGee Based on the tone of the poem, the speaker would most likely describe the Arctic setting as_____ A. paradise B. darkly captivating C. evil D. pure and honest To get pure gold, the ore must be mined, treated, and refined. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates. He appears to have no particular destination, but no particular place he can use for shelter or refuge either. XVII, No. It was published in 1907 in Songs of a Sourdough. This element of redemption and salvation negates the power of death even in the hostile and unforgiving cold of the Arctic. Wiles teaches and writes in the shadow of Vermont’s Green Mountains. A 12-minute short film, directed by Bob Jacobs, was released in 1982 by The Film Farm and distributed by EBE. The Cremation of Sam McGee - There are strange things done in the midnight sun. Klinck, Carl F. and New, W. H., “Robert W(illiam) Service,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 92: Canadian Writers, 1890-1920. Yes, the content is appealing—poor Sam Mcgee—but is there another element at play with this piece that sears the poem into one’s memory? Introduction There is little description of the landscape, the weather, or anything else in this section unless it refers to the frozen body of Sam McGee. There is also a helpful glossary of the more exotic words and phrases Service uses in his poems. There is no mention in this poem of Cap and Sam’s particular search for treasure. HISTORICAL CONTEXT Get a curated list of articles sent directly to your email once a week. Perhaps, a more efficient method when measuring a poet’s skill should reflect upon on how well they showcase poetics … They mean margin and toil, respectively. In the first and last stanzas, Service uses two words that now seem odd, “marge” and “moil,” that these words were commonly used at the beginning of the century but have since fallen out of use. This also makes to take the form of an epic poem. Instead, the poem focuses its attention on surviving the cold. Yes, Sam McGee dies in the poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee". Tone is a writer’s or speaker’s attitude toward the subject. The term “moil” in the opening lines carries with it the meaning of digging under wet, dirty conditions. In just the first few stanzas, an audience can find several examples of literary devices. Expelled three years later for defying the drillmaster, Service was apprenticed at age fifteen to a branch of the Commercial Bank of Scotland, where he stayed until 1896. At www.rwservice.com, Les McLaughlin, Tracey Brown and Randall Prescott have produced a CD of Service’s work set to music. More recent critics have attempted to isolate the folk-poetry features of his work and to analyze his structural patterns. coo/ and calm.. 12. He hated the cold and a man promised him that he would cremate his body so that his spirit would be warm. Throughout the poem, the author establishes a determined tone through his word choice. He is traveling with his good friend Cap, and together they are mushing their way along the Dawson Trail. C It suggests a tone of distress. Poetry for Students. Instead, Service turns the tables with the image of Sam sitting in the middle of the fire, telling Cap to shut the door so as not to let in the cold. On his return trip Service visited his family, who had settled in northern Alberta, then set out alone on a perilous journey of more than two thousand miles to Dawson by canoe through wilderness waterways. exposition. Historical Context With the end of the gold rush period, mining was largely taken over by corporations and governments. B It emphasizes the heat in Tennessee in the summer. Even with hardships brought on by some of the world’s most unforgiving weather, prospectors managed to extract small and large fortunes in gold from the region. . Look back through the poem and notice the many descriptions of the setting. Service and his family returned to Europe in 1946 and took up residence in Monte Carlo. Additional elements, no breath in the land of death, tired dogs howling their woes, a low food supply, a bad trail, and the near-madness of Cap coupled with the grin of the frozen corpse all contribute to a dark picture of despair and misery. “There wasn’t a breath in that land of death” is the most chilling and direct reference, not only to the death of Sam, but the deaths of the many “sourdoughs” claimed by the Yukon cold. The promise on its face first seems distasteful, maybe even gruesome. The oldest of ten children (Service had six brothers and three sisters), Service was sent to live with three maiden aunts and his paternal grandfather. Sam cannot defeat death by himself. Writing Task You have read Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee” about a man fulfilling his friend’s dying wish. The final act of “letting go” takes place over stanzas 11, 12, and 13. Form “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is a ballad. Retrieved January 12, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/cremation-sam-mcgee. The deathly cold is but one element. Even when "The Cremation of Sam McGee" is being funny, it never gets very far away from the theme of death. The intro stanza is written without an end rhyme scheme, but instead contains two stressed words in each line to prep the reader for the rhythm that awaits in the quatrains. Instead, it appears this poem deals more with the power of friendship and loyalty, and the meaning of making a promise. The previous six stanzas presented such a palpable presence of the cold that it remains with the reader even though there are no further references to it until stanza 12. 381-82. THEMES After making his way to the ship, Cap uses planks and coal remnants to build a fire in the ship’s boiler. The poem is about a freezing-cold winter trip in the Yukon, back in the days of the Klondike Gold Rush. Themes POEM SUMMARY It just makes their styles different. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Why is it ironic the author describes Sam McGee as poem? earnest. Source: Bill Wiles, in an essay for Poetry for Students, Gale, 2001. To the people he was great. We’ve got Robert W. Service to thank for that. We get a lot of different descriptions of suffering in this poem, most of them having to do with how bloody cold it is. FRANK BIDART The stanza is repeated at the close of the ballad, and thereby frames it. AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY Extracting gold from the Klondike and Yukon Rivers in less than favorable weather conditions offered challenges to the “sourdoughs” who came to seek their fortunes, and provided material for writers like Robert W. Service and Jack London. In 1910, Service made his way to Toronto and New York to arrange for the publication of his novel, The Trail of ‘98. Production steadily declined after that, until it fell to 5.6 million dollars in 1906. Sam’s body changes into a “load” and a “thing” that is “loathed” in stanza 8 and is “quiet clay” and a grinning, “hateful thing” by stanza 9. The overplayed sudden cry of “Here … is my cre-ma-tor-eum” lightens the mood. PLAY. The dancing stars, however, replace the death images with one of delight and amusement, cleverly anticipating the poem’s unforgettable ending. Still, we think he’s also motivated by a real sense of caring and friendship. The first nine stanzas of “The Cremation of Sam McGee” discuss at length the problem of survival in the Arctic wilderness. But, As Cap says, “A promise made is a debt unpaid.” It is that notion of following through, of honoring the commitment, that comes to the forefront. A ballad is a poetic form intended to be a narrative poem, originating from songs. Sometimes the speaker seems frustrated by Sam, or angry at the position Sam has put him in. In this tradition the poet tells the story using simple language in catchy meter and rhyme scheme. 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