Re: The Cremation of Sam McGee...
Ed Darrell (EDarr1776@AOL.COM)
Tue, 2 Apr 1996 16:38:59 -0500
I've seen collections of Robert Service's writings on the discount racks at
Book Stop, Barnes & Noble, Taylor's (in Dallas), and other places. I've
found collections hiding at several Half Price Books. I used to find them in
college book stores.
There are many more poems worthy of campfires in the collections.
The one collection I use most: Collected Poems of Robert Service, published
by Dodd Mead (copyrights ranging from 1912 through 1940). It includes six
Service books of poetry, including The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses,
Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, Ballads of a Cheechako,
Ballads of a Bohemian, and Bar-Room Ballads.
I have two pleas for people who use this material at campfires: First, while
memorization means you don't need to carry anything else, particularly "The
Cremation of Sam McGee" is not a race. Tell the story with some emotion
thrown in. If you read it from a piece of paper (may be difficult around a
campfire, I know), and read it wonderfully, that's better than just zipping
through the thing in a monotone.
Second, use some of the REST of the material, particularly those poems that
reinforce Scouting values. I've heard The Shooting of Dan McGrew well done
around a fire, and for entertainment it's fine, I guess (it precedes Sam
McGee in the Yukon collection). But I've yearned for someone to render
"Grin" at an appropriate time ("Your trouble is that you don't know when you
have had enough --//Don't give in.//If Fate should down you, just get up and
take another cuff;//You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like
bluff,//And grin."), or for "The Three Voices" at a beach campfire ("The
waves have a story to tell me,//As I lie on the lonely beach . . ."), or "The
Woman and the Angel," or "A Rolling Stone" (from Rhymes of a Rolling Stone)
for a rhyming campfire devotional on a hike, or . . .
Well, you get the idea. Service wrote a lot of great stuff. Let's mine it!
Ed Darrell, Duncanville, Texas
P.S. -- You may want to lay back on the "glory of dying" poems a bit. The
kids can get that later, when they read Service for their own fun.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City