Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Tribute to a Great Poet: ROBERT SERVICE

 Jan. 16, 1874 - Sept. 11, 1958

The following obituary appeared in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph of Sept. 16, 1958:

A GREAT POET died last week in Lancieux, France, at the age of 84.

He was not a poet's poet. Fancy-Dan dilletantes will dispute the description "great."

He was a people's poet. To the people he was great. 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.

And he was no poor, garret-type poet, either. His stuff made money hand over fist. One piece alone, The Shooting of Dan McGrew, rolled up half a million dollars for him. He lived it up well and also gave a great deal to help others.

"The only society I like," he once said, "is that which is rough and tough - and the tougher the better. That's where you get down to bedrock and meet human people."

He found that kind of society in the Yukon gold rush, and he immortalized it.

Too bad there are not more poets like Service, and fewer who seem to be talking to themselves in wispy symbolisms that resemble nothing so much as the maunderings of 3 a.m. drunks at a bar. Check out my September 6, 2006 posting for one of Service's finest works: "The Spell of the Yukon" Posted by Picasa

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