There winters of long hungry hardships,
Summers of pest-ridden heat;
Dicing with death for a grub stake,
Risking his life for meat.
Tossing away his young manhood,
Giving the best of his youth
To the holes that he bedrocked on wildcats,
Where gold was scarcer than truth.
Ten years spent in Alaska
Gray haired, with cheeks all atan,
Beaten, but still unconquered.
Flat broke, but still a man,
Digging and sinking and drifting,
Trying to locate the “pay,”
With each hole a fresh disappointment—
Yet hoping to strike it next day.
Scorning the letters recalling,
Forgetting the friends he had known,
Turning his back on the Outside,
Facing the future alone.
A Cabin, a Squaw, and a Fishwheel,
A bend in the river’s flow,
A band of half-naked breed kids—
He stayed there, a sourdough.
When the stars from the skies have fallen
And the smoke of the world’s cleared away;
When Saint Peter marks “30” in Life’s Book
And we meet there on Judgment Day;
When our trials and troubles are ended
And we’re wise to the best and the worst;
When the time has arrived that the wise ones
Have told us the last shall be first;
When the men who’ve made good are rewarded
And the losers are turned loose in Hell;
That’s the time that a lot will be learning
The true reason and cause that they fell.
And I wonder when Peter gets busy
As he works out the tenement plan,
And when Heaven’s thrown free for location
Will he confine the locations to man?
If he does, my claim’s open for jumping
For I can’t figure Heaven complete,
If the dim distant trails of the sky land
Are not pattered by malamutes’ feet.
Cause I know it would never seem home-like
No matter how golden the strand,
If I lose out that pal-loving feeling
Of a malamute’s nose in my hand.
And it’s that way with lots of Alaskans
These men of our own last frontier,
Who tear into nature unaided
And who scarce know the meaning of fear.
Who live on lone creeks all alone here
Where the living and dying are hard,
And where oft times their only companion
Is a malamute pup for a pard.
He’s a real chum with things coming easy,
He’s a pal with things breaking tough,
He’s a hell-roaring fighting companion
When somebody starts something rough.
He’s a true friend in sorrow and sickness
And he doesn’t mind hunger or cold,
And he’s really the only one pardner
You can trust when you uncover gold.
He’s a guard you can trust at the sluice box,
And he’ll watch by your cache thru the night,
And if some cheechako tries to molest it
That cheechako’s in for a fight.
As a pardner he’s silent, but cheerful
With never a kick ’bout the trails
And if it wasn’t for him in the winter
There never would be any mails.