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Robert W. Service
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Poet
    (January 16, 1874-September 11, 1958)
    Born in Preston, England, United Kingdom
    Banker in Scotland and Canada
    Published the poetry collections 'Songs of a Sourdough' (1907), 'Ballads of a Cheechako' (1909), 'Rhymes of a Rolling Stone' (1912), 'Rhymes of a Red Cross Man' (1916), 'Ballads of a Bohemian' (1921), 'Bar-Room Ballads' (1940) and 'Carols of an Old Codger' (1955)
    Best known poems were 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew' and 'The Cremation of Sam McGee'
    Known as 'the Bard of the Yukon' and 'the Canadian Kipling'
    During his early years in Canada, he frequently had to leech off friends of the family.
    He took classes at McGill University to impress a girl, but flunked them all.
    When 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew' popped into his head, he rushed to the bank to write it down, and was almost shot by a colleague who thought he was a burglar.
    He briefly covered WWI as a correspondent for 'The Toronto Star,' but was arrested during an outbreak of spy hysteria (1916).
    Most critics dismissed his poems as mere doggerel.
    He intended for his first book of poetry to be privately printed for his friends, but the employees at the publisher were so enamored with the poems that the firm offered him a royalty contract instead.
    He was an ambulance driver during World War I.
    When the Nazis invaded France, they planned to arrest him for having written mocking verses about Hitler. (Fortunately, he had already departed for the US.)
    One biographer wrote, 'No other poet, save Burns, has enjoyed such wide appeal with the common man.'
    During an economic summit, Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney entertained reporters by alternating lines while reciting 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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