The Hemisphere: The Yukon Troubadour

As a poet, Robert William Service never sought the level of Percy Bysshe Shelley, would have been as out of place on Parnassus as Shelley in a Klondike saloon. The rhymes that made Service a millionaire w'ooed none of the nine Muses. They reek of male shenanigans and sweat, roar like a Yukon avalanche, teem with rude and lusty characters: Claw-Fingered Kitty, Chewed-Ear Jenkins. Muck-Luck Mag, Blasphemous Bill Mackie. Dangerous Dan McGrew. "Rhyming has my ruin been," Robert Service once wrote, falling unconsciously into the balladeer's inversion. "With less deftness I might have produced real poetry."

Real poetry was not a part...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!