Robert W. Service is most noted for his poetry and stories chronicling the Yukon gold rush. He is sometimes referred to as "The Bard of Canada" for this reason.
Service was employed as a teller for the Bank of Commerce in Whitehorse, Yukon in 1904. Although he arrived at the tail end of the gold rush, he recorded many of the well-worn yarns that were still being told in the saloons and around the campfires of the Yukon.
His most famous poems are "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and "The Cremation of Sam Mcgee." My favorites are not so much the yarns and stories as the poems which capture the atmoshpere of the Yukon.
I hailed me a woman from the street,
Shameless, but, oh, so fair!
I bade her sit in the model's seat
And I painted her sitting there.
I hid all trace of her heart unclean;
I painted a babe at her breast;
I painted her as she might have been
If the Worst had been the Best.
She laughed at my picture and went away.
Then came, with a knowing nod,
A connoisseur, and I heard him say;
"'Tis Mary, the Mother of God."
So I painted a halo round her hair,
And I sold her and took my fee,
And she hangs in the church of Saint Hillaire,
Where you and all may see.