Monday, October 28, 2013

Ravens and Cremation at Breakfast....

It's about 9:30am and I'm having tea and toast for breakfast, while reading The Cremation of Sam McGee. I have a beautifully illustrated version with paintings by Ted Harrison and an introduction by Pierre Berton. It's a keeper. However I am not sure that it's breakfast reading. Yes, it's getting cold out there, but it hasn't snowed as yet and we are usually spared the worst of the winter here in Toronto anyway. Also I have never had any desire to go any where near the north in winter.

My sister lived in Eqaluit for years and braved many white-outs, some lasting up to two weeks. Cabin Fever is rampant then. The blowing snow obscures any view from the windows and you are stuck in, because if you went out you couldn't see where you were going and you might end up dead in a snow drift just outside your door. My brother has spent years, as well, in the North, in Fort McMurray, which is on the border of Sam McGee country, The Yukon. No I'm the wimpy one in the family. I could easily winter in the south.

Ravens in the Yukon

So why am I torturing myself with the tale of Sam McGee? Well, I needed a picture about reading to children for my post yesterday and I happened to find this book conveniently at the bottom of the stairs. Why, doesn't everyone secrete a poetry book here or there in case the need arises?

Actually, I have always been curious about the opening lines of the poem -

"There are strange things done
                                      in the midnight sun
           By the men who moil for gold...."

I have been fascinated by the word "moil." It means to work hard or to move around in confusion or agitation. Not exactly opposite meanings, but I'm not sure that I see any obvious connection. Anyway, I have found an inconsistency in the poem, as well. It is set in winter, where the sun may shine for an hour or two around noon. The midnight sun happens in summer. That being said, it's a very humorous poem and a great one to read at any age and at any time of the day or night!!

My post might have been worse. I was also reading an article about Ravens from Mental Floss. I could have just as easily been writing about Poe's, The Raven. I think I'll save that one for Hallowe'en :)

Have a good one!!

12 comments:

  1. I've never heard of the word "moil". And I've also never heard of Sam McGee. Your post is quite enlightening! I am also a total wimp. I could never survive a white out for more than a few hours. Claustrophobia would surely kick in!

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    1. Thank you, Suerae. I agree, I could never spend much time in the North.

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  2. I'm with Suerae about Sam McGee. (Bobby- yep!). Moil- I've heard from my reading. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you, Roy. Love the song, Bobby McGee.

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  3. I love your title. Also, thank you for increasing my vocabulary today.

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    1. Thank you. Ann Mullen pointed out that it could come from the word turmoil. Makes sense.

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  4. Carol, Moil seems to be related to turmoil.

    The poem reminds me of Casey at Bat. Story poems are really cool, but not in the winter in Alaska. I had a friend, however, who went crazy during the summer up there and had to come to Texas to get some sleep. Humn

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    1. Thank you for the connection. Turmoil makes perfect sense.

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  5. It is the first time I have ever heard of 'moil'. As for winter, well, if you are the wimpy one I don't know what it would make me. I hate the cold!

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  6. I agree, Muriel. I hate the cold too. Thank you for posting.

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