Robert Service Poems

Robert Service was a British-Canadian poet born in 1874. He is sometimes referred to as the “Bard of the Yukon.” He spent some of his life in the Yukon Wilderness working as a cowboy. This period informed his poetry for the rest of his life. 

Death in the Arctic

by Robert Service

Robert Service’s ‘Death in the Arctic’ tells a bleak, dark story in such an evocative way that even after the poem finishes, the reader can’t help but wonder for more.

'Death in the Arctic' is considered one of Robert Service's better poems, showcasing his ability to capture the harsh realities of life in the Arctic and the struggles faced by those who lived and worked there. The poem has been praised for its vivid imagery, emotional depth, and powerful storytelling, cementing Service's reputation as a master of narrative verse.

I took the clock down from the shelf;

"At eight," said I, "I shoot myself."

It lacked a minute of the hour,

And as I waited all a-cower,

The Woman and the Angel

by Robert Service

‘The Woman and the Angel’ is an allegory by Robert Service that reflects on the evolving nature of ethics and morality in human society.

This piece is a narrative poem that tells a story about a woman who meets an angel and asks him to take her to heaven. The poem has elements of romance, spirituality, and symbolism. It is also a ballad, a type of poem that typically tells a story in short stanzas with a simple, repetitive refrain. It is a good Robert Service poem but is not among his best-known.

An angel was tired of heaven, as he lounged in the golden street;

His halo was tilted sideways, and his harp lay mute at his feet;

So the Master stooped in His pity, and gave him a pass to go,

For the space of a moon, to the earth-world, to mix with the men below.

Explore more poems from Robert Service

My Book

by Robert Service

In writing ‘My Book,’ Robert Service reminds his readers about the importance of avoiding judgement on others and instead focusing on themselves.

Before I drink myself to death,

God, let me finish up my Book!

At night, I fear, I fight for breath,

And wake up whiter than a spook;

My Masterpiece

by Robert Service

‘My Masterpiece’ seems to be the poem Robert Service wrote to warn the reader about the regrets they may discover too late in their lives.

Old David Smail

by Robert Service

‘Old David Smail’ tells the story of a dreamer, a character that is both relatable and strange, and one that most people could learn from.

The Call

by Robert Service

In ‘The Call,’ Robert Service reflects on the propaganda used to recruit soldiers into World War I, based on his living in France at the time.

The Call of the Wild

by Robert Service

Robert Service wrote ‘The Call of the Wild’ from the middle of the wilderness, and in it fervently invites his reader to join in the experience.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

by Robert Service

‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’ is one of the best-known poems of Robert W. Service. The poem presents the cremation of Sam McGee who freezes to death in the prospect of gold.

The Other One

by Robert Service

Robert Service writes about one of the most powerful forms of grief in the world in ‘The Other One’: the grief of a parent for a lost child.

The Spell of the Yukon

by Robert Service

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;

I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.

Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;

I hurled my youth into a grave.

The Stretcher-Bearer

by Robert Service

‘The Stretcher-Bearer’ is one of Robert Service’s signature wartime poems that recalls his experiences during the First World War.

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