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This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, its rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
All Entries 1997 - 2002
All Entries 2002
Odds and Ends, Other Items Of Interest About Robert


Published by Webmaster on 07/21/2003 (36450 reads)
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1906-1907: One day, when he is asked to recite at a church concert, a friend suggests that Service write a poem himself - "something about our own bit of earth . . There's a rich paystreak waiting for someone to work . ." Intrigued, Service started thinking. Then came inspiration. "It was a Saturday night, and from the various bars I heard sounds of revelry. The line popped into my mind: 'A bunch of the boys were whooping it up' and it stuck there. Good enough for a start." Wanting a quiet place to work, Service went to his teller's cage at the bank. But he had forgotten the night guard. The startled man drew his revolver and fired. "Fortunately he was a poor shot or The Shooting of Dan McGrew might never have been written .... Anyhow, with the sensation of a bullet whizzing past my head, and a detonation ringing in my ears, the ballad was achieved ...."

So many other poems followed in the next months that Service decides to order a private printing. Diffident to the core, he never imagines that he can sell his work. He is therefore stupefied when he finds not only a publisher, but a very enthusiastic one who offers a 10 per cent royalty! The poems are an immediate success.

1908: With Songs of a Sourdough selling steadily, Service is transferred 400 miles north to Dawson. His fellow employees greet him with wild enthusiasm, although they were probably surprised to find him mild and quiet and cleanshaven - not at all like the Dan McGrews of his roughneck ballads.

1909: Ballads of a Cheechako is published, Service's next book of verse, was composed entirely in Dawson. By now he has achieved a long-term ambition - financial independence.

1909 Nov.15: With $10,000 in his account, plus an income of $5,000 a year from his books, he feels he can safely leave the bank and devote all his time to writing.

1909: Rents a log cabin and starts work on his first novel, The Trail of Ninety-Eight.

1909-1910: Service, himself, takes the book to the publisher, Dodd Mead, in New York. The resultant book is a success and was later made into a movie. Called The Trail of '98. Released by MGM in 1928. The book is still worth reading for its vivid description of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Decides to walk to New Orleans. Goes as far as Philadelphia and takes a train. Soon tiring of New Orleans, he travels to Cuba. Then goes to Alberta to visit his mother, sisters, and brothers. Works in Alberta on their farm.

1911 Spring: Yearns for the Yukon and decides to return the hard way by the Edmonton Trail: By canoe down the Mackenzie River, over the Mackenzie Divide via the Rat and down the Bell and the Porcupine to the Yukon River.

Back in his Dawson cabin once again, Service happily takes up his old life and starts work on his third book of verse, Rhymes of a Rolling Stone.

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