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.
Robert Service: The Heart of the Sourdough