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Robert William Service

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Robert William Service was born in England in 1874 to the family of a banker. At the age of five, he was sent to his aunts who have raised him until he turned nine. After graduating from high school, Service went into the banking business. At that time he was already writing poems. Several years later, he immigrated to Canada where he joined his younger brother who lived on a ranch. Eighteen months later, he traveled to the Pacific coast where he spent six years. When Service found himself in financial difficulty, he was hired by the Canadian Bank of Commerce that sent him to the Whitehorse branch in the Yukon Territory where he was living for sixteen years. During that time, he wrote many poems that after publishing earned him a nickname “the Bard of Yukon.” During World War I, the poet was a volunteer at the American Red Cross and, then, he became a war correspondent for the government of Canada. Nowadays, Service remains associated, primarily, with the Yukon because of his many poems devoted to that area. Moreover, he is often called “the Canadian Kipling.”

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The poem My Inner Life is a declaration of the significance of remaining true to yourself, your ideals, values, and beliefs. When read aloud, it conveys a powerful message revealing the feelings of the author. In fact, this poem requires reading aloud to form its overall melody. In times of temptation, doubt, challenge, and distress, Service urges each person to turn to the “sacred sanctuary” which is inside every individual. For example, one can find peace of mind, strength, reassurance, and encouragement to remain true to oneself. This “inner life” is hidden and is a “secret citadel” meaning a strong tower, fortress, and bastion where a person can retreat in times of “wars and evil rumors.” Service exhorts, “Unto yourself be true.” Furthermore, this “hidden life” is the only secure and dependable refuge a person will ever have in life, and therefore, it must be held inviolate. Thus, Service proves that staying true to oneself contributes to maintaining one’s identity.

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In my opinion, the concept of individuality is a burning issue these days. The technological progress and rapid development of social media insistently propagate the life open to the general public. Thereby, it steadily undermines the significance of being true to yourself. The poem remains relevant nowadays, and, undoubtedly, it will continue to be such in future. I think that its second title can be An Ode to Identity as it precisely discusses the issue. My favorite lines are the first four opening ones as they convey the essence of the notion of identity. Furthermore, I liked the last four closing lines as they are an exhortation to protect the inner life from any outside intrusion. The opening lines state that an identity makes a person truly wealthy but not the appearance or other attributes. The outward appearance, status, clothes, and luxurious lifestyle do not determine the richness of a person who can be very “poor inside”. Instead, identity makes the heart sing, soul rejoice, and mind never “fear defeat.” Identity keeps people safe and helps them “go blessedly [their] way.” Therefore, “Your refuge hold inviolate; / Unto yourself be true, / And shield serene from sordid fate / The Real You.”

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