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A promise made is a debt unpaid

When you make a promise to someone, it is as if you take a debt from them. The ‘debt’ you owe to the person is not paid until the promise is fulfilled.

In the poem ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee‘, the¬†Canadian poet Robert A. Service writes, ‘A promise made is a debt unpaid.‘ The poem is the tale of a Yukon musher keeping a promise he made to cremate his friend rather than let him be buried in the ice and snow.