Spell of the Yukon

After the initial excitement of moving to a new country has passed, the fear starts to settle in. I’m nervous about finding a place to live, getting a job, making new friends, and feeling accepted. But these are challenges that I’m sure with perseverance and realistic expectations, can be overcome. What I fear most is, surprisingly, the possibility of finding exactly what I’m looking for.

I’ve read the stories of those who left home, only to find home elsewhere. Their hearts grew fond of the foreign land that was no longer foreign, content with its friendships, its daily life. This sense of belonging is what I seek, but I’m afraid of finally associating myself with the concept of a home, only to be torn away from it when my visa expires. Of course I believe that if you desperately want something, there will always be a way to make it happen. But it would no doubt be a difficult path filled with choices, patience, and some luck.

At this, I realized that although we’ve come a long way from the past in terms of tolerance and acceptance; united by technology, in terms of the State border, we are more divided than ever before.

I wanted the gold, and I sought it,
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy, I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it.
Came out with a fortune last fall,
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn’t all.

No! There’s the land. Have you seen it?
It’s the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
For no land on Earth, and I’m one.

You come to get rich, that’s a good reason;
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it’s been since the beginning;
It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim.
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o’ the world piled on top.

The summer, no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the far-ness.
O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

The winter! The brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I’ve bade ’em goodbye, but I can’t.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land, oh, how it beckons and beckons.
And I want to go back, and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;
I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! When I’m skinned to a finish
I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
I’ll fight, and you bet it’s no sham-fight;
It’s hell! But I’ve been there before;
And it’s better than this by a greatsite
So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

– “The Spell of the Yukon”, Robert Service – 1907

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5 thoughts on “Spell of the Yukon

    1. Thank you! Your photos ARE amazing! They capture the happiness in the moment. The Philippines is definitely on my list of places to visit in Asia – it’ll likely happen sometime within the next two years! 🙂

  1. That certainly resonates with me. I’m an American expat living in Korea for about 17 years now, and I’m increasingly curious about expats from other countries. I write about expat issues as well and am very interested in connecting with expats around the world. Please visit my blog at https://bosmosis.wordpress.com/ if you have a chance. Cheers!

    1. Followed! Some interesting topics you have on your blog – particularly the one about labels under ‘expat’ or ‘immigrant’. I was actually thinking about that myself today. Will definitely respond with more in-depth thoughts in a few days!

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