The Cremation of Sam McGee

2019 Dec 11th

The Cremation of Sam McGee

“The Cremation of Sam McGee” is a famous poem written by Robert W. Service's, published in 1907. It's about the cremation of a prospector who freezes to death in Yukon, Canada.

The writer was inspired while working in the Yukon, although the piece he writes about is fictional, Sam McGee was indeed a real person. Many parts of the poem are based on true events and places and inspired us to share. 

A promise is a promise. 

Who is UrbanRIP? We are not a surf shop and we can’t promise you the perfect wave. But we can promise you a solid!!!

Our cremation keepsake egg urns are created one by one; with integrity to safeguard your loved ones. We start with a solid block of U.S. stainless steel and ensure that each part is inspected five times before it reaches your home and your loved one.

Years back, UrbaRIP Founder and Creative Director, Agnes Galas, made a promise to disrupt the funeral market. After completing three years of thrall research on the world’s oldest industry, that promise became a vision to make a change. A change to offer a solution and redirect our resistance and others' discomfort, to gently shift views of the stigma on death and to integrate funeral products within our home decor. The journey expanded on a long road, but the promise never wavered - because creating something beautiful and meaningful for your family is not only important to us, it’s an honour.

This poem found on Poetry Foundation website speaks to that promise and reminds us of the journey. Any journey that opens your mind and softens your heart is worth taking. Time is not still but changing, constantly revealing life's shades and rearranging.

We have also included a link we found on YouTube, narrated by Johnny Cash.

Enjoy...

THE CREMATION OF 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 cursèd cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone. Yet 'tain't 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 those 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— O 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.

Photo by Sol Mitnick on Unsplash