The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses

Robert W. Service

The Heart of the Sourdough

There where the mighty mountains bare their fangs unto the moon,
There where the sullen sun-dogs glare
  in the snow-bright, bitter noon,
And the glacier-glutted streams sweep down
  at the clarion call of June.

There where the livid tundras keep
  their tryst with the tranquil snows;
There where the silences are spawned,
  and the light of hell-fire flows
Into the bowl of the midnight sky, violet, amber and rose.

There where the rapids churn and roar,
  and the ice-floes bellowing run;
Where the tortured, twisted rivers of blood
  rush to the setting sun --
I've packed my kit and I'm going, boys, ere another day is done.

     * * * * *

I knew it would call, or soon or late,
  as it calls the whirring wings;
It's the olden lure, it's the golden lure,
  it's the lure of the timeless things,
And to-night, oh, God of the trails untrod,
  how it whines in my heart-strings!

I'm sick to death of your well-groomed gods,
  your make believe and your show;
I long for a whiff of bacon and beans,
  a snug shakedown in the snow;
A trail to break, and a life at stake,
  and another bout with the foe.

With the raw-ribbed Wild that abhors all life,
  the Wild that would crush and rend,
I have clinched and closed with the naked North,
  I have learned to defy and defend;
Shoulder to shoulder we have fought it out --
  yet the Wild must win in the end.

I have flouted the Wild. I have followed its lure,
  fearless, familiar, alone;
By all that the battle means and makes
  I claim that land for mine own;
Yet the Wild must win, and a day will come
  when I shall be overthrown.

Then when as wolf-dogs fight we've fought,
  the lean wolf-land and I;
Fought and bled till the snows are red under the reeling sky;
Even as lean wolf-dog goes down will I go down and die.

©1907 Robert W. Service

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