Twenty Below

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I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”
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 W. Service, The Cremation of Sam McGee
Well it is twenty below zero in Dwight, Illinois this morning.  Pray for us, people who live in warmer climes like Alaska!


More to explorer

Father Dwyer Lays It on the Line

  [1] I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and

No Kangaroo Courts

  Well, isn’t this precious:   MELBOURNE, Victoria, Australia ( – The Director of Public Prosecutions for the Australian territory of Victoria


  1. Years ago when I first read that queer poem it left me with an uneasy feeling of trepidation/ fascination about the World that I was going to grow up and enter into. Years have flown and with longer perspective human nature is still a wondrous study

  2. When I was in 3rd grade we were assigned to memorize a poem and recite it infront tof the class. The Cremation of Sam McGee was the one I chose. My teacher didn’t look at me or call on me for anything for a month after that.

  3. 😉 Trubuchet- me,too. My 3rd grade teacher was circumspect when I handed my illustration for my book report on Jane Eyre (featuring the fire)

  4. My sympathy for you Don.
    Meanwhile, its cloudy and a bit cooler today here in Godzone – only predicted for 24 C. Looks like I’ll have to leave my shirt on while working on my daughter’s deck which is almost finished.
    That dratted global warming again. 😉

  5. Meanwhile, temperatures in Sochi, Russia have been in the 50s and 60s. In hindsight, maybe Chicago should have bid on the Winter Games this year….

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