The Heart of the Sourdough
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 shake-down 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 my 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.The Poem: The Heart of the Sourdoughby Robert Service
Photographs by Kuskulana Steve, January 19, 2008
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