The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert Service
Stanza 14 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
- Surprise! Turns out Sam is just fine. He’s hanging out in the middle of the furnace, warming himself up.
- We’ve gone from a grisly scene to a whacky joke in a single line. It’s a big shift, and kind of brilliant, if you ask us.
- This moment is the big twist, which is pretty shocking the first time you read the poem.
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm—
- Sam is happy as a clam in the boiler. He smiles big and asks his friend to close the door to keep the cold out.
- Although the moment is totally surreal, Service does a great job of making it seem completely normal, which makes it even funnier.
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."
- Turns out, all Sam wanted was to be as warm as he was in his hometown of Plumtree, Tennessee. This cremation turns out to be the first chance he’s had to warm up!