Robert W. Service
 1874 - 1958
 

Photo of Robeertt Service

           Born in England to Scottish parents, Robert William Service held down a variety of jobs before emigrating to North America in 1894. He drifted from job to job for several years before finding employment in 1903 with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. In 1905 the bank transferred him to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

           In less than five years, Service had gained worldwide fame as the storyteller of the Klondike gold rush. He wrote and published his first book of verse, "Songs of a Sourdough," in 1907 to almost instant acclaim. "Ballads of a Cheechacko" was published in 1909, shortly after the bank transferred him from Whitehorse to Dawson City. During this time he also began work on his novel, "The Trail of Ninety-Eight."

           Although he left the Bank in 1909 to devote full time to his writing, he never again published a book about "The Land that God Forgot." He left the Yukon in 1912 to become a war correspondent and Red Cross worker. He married a French woman, settled in France after the end of World War I, and over a long and productive life published two memoirs, six novels, and more than 45 collections of verse. He died in 1958.

 

                                                                                            

The Men That Don't Fit In
        
by Robert Service

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

 

 

Yukon cabin of Robert Service
Robert Service and his Yukon cabin.

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