The Cremation of Sam McGee

The Cremation of Sam McGee

Book - 1987
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Constantly suffering from the cold, Sam makes his companion on the Arctic trail promise to cremate him when he dies, which the companion does--to his great surprise.
Publisher: New York : Greenwillow Books, [1987], c1907.
Edition: First U.S.A. edition
ISBN: 9780688069032
0688069037
9780688069049
0688069045
Characteristics: [32] pages :,color illustrations ;,32 cm.
Additional Contributors: Harrison, Ted 1926-- Illustrator

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n
nackerley
Sep 15, 2018

The poem is a classic, but the illustrations go well beyond the text and make it incredibly engaging. Very interesting conversations with my three year old have resulted, on themes of cold, work and death.

r
reiyos
May 01, 2018

yes the title is a little off putting. But the poem is fun and pertinent to the Yukon. Representation of Robert Services popular work and beautifully illustrated by artist Ted Harrison.

s
susan_findlay
Jul 18, 2017

Poetry is not usually my thing, but this book is just a work of art.

I love the meter. The way the words roll, each one perfectly chosen. I love the fact that it rhymes. (I know that poetry doesn't have to, but the stuff that doesn't rarely feels poetic to me). And I love how the rhymes just fall naturally in the middle of sentences. So much thought went into every word choice and placement! But it doesn't feel like that. It's like watching an expert athlete. All the hard work they put in makes the final product look effortless.

I also need to credit the beautiful illustrations of Ted Harrison which do a lovely job of setting the scene, using colour in remarkable ways.

Highly recommend this short but beautiful book.

g
glenna14
Nov 09, 2016

The illustrations are what make this book a national treasure. Every home should have a hard copy of this beautiful poem.

EPLPicks_Teen Mar 13, 2010

A legend from the days of the Yukon Gold Rush about what the Arctic cold can do to a man. Grade 4 - 12

quagga Feb 26, 2010

A legend from the days of the Yukon Gold Rush about what the Arctic cold can do to a man.

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n
nackerley
Sep 15, 2018

nackerley thinks this title is suitable for 3 years and over

quagga Feb 26, 2010

quagga thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Quotes

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d
DavidB
Jan 05, 2009

The Nothern Lights have seen queer sights but the queerest they ever did see, was that night on the marge of Lake Laberge I cremated Sam McGee

d
DavidB
Jan 02, 2009

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Labarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

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“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.”

Robert Service was a mild-mannered bank clerk in real life, but the way this poem makes the Arctic come alive, you’d think the man was a veteran of the Klondike. It’s funny; the version of Sam McGee I remember from my childhood conjures up images of grinning corpses, lonely cold, and complete silence, save for the sound of a lone sled’s runners slicing eerily through the snow. Bleak, strange, wildness…all surrounded by devastating, enveloping cold. When I pulled it off the shelves today and gave it a quick re-read, I was surprised (and delighted) to find that not only does it still have all that wildness, it’s funny, too. There is definite humour in these pages – the unnamed speaker of the poem lends some definite snark to the situation.

What a great tale. Each time I read this poem, I get chills. There are poems that have the ability to completely transport us to a specific time and place, and Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee remains one of the best. Brrrrrrr!

P.S. Bonus Canadian points go to this edition because it’s illustrated by Ted Harrison. (Submitted by Veronica)

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