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Best Famous Mark Twain Poems


Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Mark Twain poems. This is a select list of the best famous Mark Twain poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Mark Twain poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Mark Twain poems.

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by Ellis Parker Butler |

Jabed Meeker Humorist

 Twain? Oh, yes, I’ve heard Mark Twain
Heard him down to Pleasant Plain;
Funny? Yes, I guess so. Folks
Seemed to laugh loud at his jokes—
Laughed to beat the band; but I
Couldn’t rightly make out why.
Guess his humor ain’t refined.
Quite enough to suit my mind.
Mark’s all right—right clever speaker—
But he can’t touch Jabed Meeker;
And one thing that makes it queer
Is that Jabed lives right here.

You ain’t met him? Son, you’ve missed
The most funniest humorist
I’ve met with in my born days—
Funniest talker, anyways,
When it comes to repartee—
That’s the humor catches me!

Like a specimen? Huh! Well,
Take, for instance, his umbrell;
Wouldn’t think, until he spoke,
He could turn that to a joke;
Mark Twain couldn’t, bet you that!
That’s where Meeker beats Mark flat!

Just imagine three or four
Fellers in Jim Beemer’s store—
‘Long comes Meeker, and some feller
Says, “See Meeker’s bum umbreller.”
Quick as lightning Meeker ‘d yell:
“Don’t you guy my bumberell!
Where’s the feller dares to hoot
At this sping-spang bumbershoot?
Show me some one dares to call
Bad names at my bumbersoll!”
Right like that! Right off the reel!
Say, you’d ought to heard us squeal!
Then, before we’d got our breath,
Meeker, solemn sad as death,
Says: “Stand up there ‘gainst that wall,
Para-bumber-shooter-soll!”

Twain? All right! But just give me
Some one slick at repartee!


by Vachel Lindsay |

Mark Twain and Joan of Arc

 When Yankee soldiers reach the barricade
Then Joan of Arc gives each the accolade.

For she is there in armor clad, today,
All the young poets of the wide world say.

Which of our freemen did she greet the first,
Seeing him come against the fires accurst?

Mark Twain, our Chief, with neither smile nor jest,
Leading to war our youngest and our best.

The Yankee to King Arthur's court returns.
The sacred flag of Joan above him burns.

For she has called his soul from out the tomb.
And where she stands, there he will stand till doom.

But I, I can but mourn, and mourn again
At bloodshed caused by angels, saints, and men.


by Vachel Lindsay |

The Raft

 The whole world on a raft! A King is here,
The record of his grandeur but a smear.
Is it his deacon-beard, or old bald pate
That makes the band upon his whims to wait?
Loot and mud-honey have his soul defiled.
Quack, pig, and priest, he drives camp-meetings wild
Until they shower their pennies like spring rain
That he may preach upon the Spanish main.
What landlord, lawyer, voodoo-man has yet
A better native right to make men sweat?

The whole world on a raft! A Duke is here
At sight of whose lank jaw the muses leer.
Journeyman-printer, lamb with ferret eyes,
In life's skullduggery he takes the prize —
Yet stands at twilight wrapped in Hamlet dreams.
Into his eyes the Mississippi gleams.
The sandbar sings in moonlit veils of foam.
A candle shines from one lone cabin home.
The waves reflect it like a drunken star.

A banjo and a hymn are heard afar.
No solace on the lazy shore excels
The Duke's blue castle with its steamer-bells.
The floor is running water, and the roof
The stars' brocade with cloudy warp and woof.

And on past sorghum fields the current swings.
To Christian Jim the Mississippi sings.
This prankish wave-swept barque has won its place,
A ship of jesting for the human race.
But do you laugh when Jim bows down forlorn
His babe, his deaf Elizabeth to mourn?
And do you laugh, when Jim, from Huck apart
Gropes through the rain and night with breaking heart?

But now that imp is here and we can smile,
Jim's child and guardian this long-drawn while.
With knife and heavy gun, a hunter keen,
He stops for squirrel-meat in islands green.
The eternal gamin, sleeping half the day,
Then stripped and sleek, a river-fish at play.
And then well-dressed, ashore, he sees life spilt.
The river-bank is one bright crazy-quilt
Of patch-work dream, of wrath more red than lust,
Where long-haired feudist Hotspurs bite the dust...

This Huckleberry Finn is but the race,
America, still lovely in disgrace,
New childhood of the world, that blunders on
And wonders at the darkness and the dawn,
The poor damned human race, still unimpressed
With its damnation, all its gamin breast
Chorteling at dukes and kings with nigger Jim,
Then plotting for their fall, with jestings grim.

Behold a Republic
Where a river speaks to men
And cries to those that love its ways,
Answering again
When in the heart's extravagance
The rascals bend to say
"O singing Mississippi
Shine, sing for us today."

But who is this in sweeping Oxford gown
Who steers the raft, or ambles up and down,
Or throws his gown aside, and there in white
Stands gleaming like a pillar of the night?
The lion of high courts, with hoary mane,
Fierce jester that this boyish court will gain —
Mark Twain!
The bad world's idol:
Old Mark Twain!

He takes his turn as watchman with the rest,
With secret transports to the stars addressed,
With nightlong broodings upon cosmic law,
With daylong laughter at this world so raw.

All praise to Emerson and Whitman, yet
The best they have to say, their sons forget.
But who can dodge this genius of the stream,
The Mississippi Valley's laughing dream?
He is the artery that finds the sea
In this the land of slaves, and boys still free.
He is the river, and they one and all
Sail on his breast, and to each other call.

Come let us disgrace ourselves,
Knock the stuffed gods from their shelves,
And cinders at the schoolhouse fling.
Come let us disgrace ourselves,
And live on a raft with gray Mark Twain
And Huck and Jim
And the Duke and the King.


by Mark Twain |

A Sweltering Day In Australia

 The Bombola faints in the hot Bowral tree, 
Where fierce Mullengudgery's smothering fires 
Far from the breezes of Coolgardie 
Burn ghastly and blue as the day expires; 

And Murriwillumba complaineth in song 
For the garlanded bowers of Woolloomooloo, 
And the Ballarat Fly and the lone Wollongong 
They dream of the gardens of Jamberoo; 

The wallabi sighs for the Murrubidgee, 
For the velvety sod of the Munno Parah, 
Where the waters of healing from Muloowurtie 
Flow dim in the gloaming by Yaranyackah; 

The Koppio sorrows for lost Wolloway, 
And sigheth in secret for Murrurundi, 
The Whangeroo wombat lamenteth the day 
That made him an exile from Jerrilderie; 

The Teawamute Tumut from Wirrega's glade, 
The Nangkita swallow, the Wallaroo swan, 
They long for the peace of the Timaru shade 
And thy balmy soft airs, O sweet Mittagong! 

The Kooringa buffalo pants in the sun, 
The Kondoparinga lies gaping for breath, 
The Kongorong Camaum to the shadow has won, 
But the Goomeroo sinks in the slumber of death; 

In the weltering hell of the Moorooroo plain 
The Yatala Wangary withers and dies, 
And the Worrow Wanilla, demented with pain, 
To the Woolgoolga woodlands despairingly flies; 

Sweet Nangwarry's desolate, Coonamble wails, 
And Tungkillo Kuito in sables is drest, 
For the Whangerei winds fall asleep in the sails 
And the Booleroo life-breeze is dead in the west. 

Mypongo, Kapunda, O slumber no more 
Yankalilla, Parawirra, be warned 
There's death in the air! 
Killanoola, wherefore 
Shall the prayer of Penola be scorned? 

Cootamundra, and Takee, and Wakatipu, 
Toowoomba, Kaikoura are lost 
From Onkaparinga to far Oamaru 
All burn in this hell's holocaust! 

Paramatta and Binnum are gone to their rest 
In the vale of Tapanni Taroom, 
Kawakawa, Deniliquin - all that was best 
In the earth are but graves and a tomb! 

Narrandera mourns, Cameron answers not 
When the roll of the scathless we cry 
Tongariro, Goondiwindi, Woolundunga, the spot 
Is mute and forlorn where ye lie.


by Mark Twain |

Ode to Stephen Bowling Dots Decd

 And did young Stephen sicken,
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad hearts thicken,
And did the mourners cry?

No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened,
'Twas not from sickness' shots.

No whooping-cough did rack his frame,
Nor measles drear, with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.

Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

O no. Then list with tearful eye,
Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly,
By falling down a well.

They got him out and emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the realms of the good and great.


by Mark Twain |

The Aged Pilot Man

 On the Erie Canal, it was,
All on a summer's day,
I sailed forth with my parents
Far away to Albany.

From out the clouds at noon that day
There came a dreadful storm,
That piled the billows high about,
And filled us with alarm.

A man came rushing from a house,
Saying, "Snub up your boat I pray,
Snub up your boat, snub up, alas,
Snub up while yet you may."

Our captain cast one glance astern,
Then forward glanced he,
And said, "My wife and little ones
I never more shall see."

Said Dollinger the pilot man,
In noble words, but few,--
"Fear not, but lean on Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through."

The boat drove on, the frightened mules
Tore through the rain and wind,
And bravely still, in danger's post,
The whip-boy strode behind.

"Come 'board, come 'board," the captain cried,
"Nor tempt so wild a storm;"
But still the raging mules advanced,
And still the boy strode on.

Then said the captain to us all,
"Alas, 'tis plain to me,
The greater danger is not there,
But here upon the sea.

So let us strive, while life remains,
To save all souls on board,
And then if die at last we must,
Let . . . . I cannot speak the word!"

Said Dollinger the pilot man,
Tow'ring above the crew,
"Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through."

"Low bridge! low bridge!" all heads went down,
The laboring bark sped on;
A mill we passed, we passed church,
Hamlets, and fields of corn;
And all the world came out to see,
And chased along the shore
Crying, "Alas, alas, the sheeted rain,
The wind, the tempest's roar!
Alas, the gallant ship and crew,
Can nothing help them more?"

And from our deck sad eyes looked out
Across the stormy scene:
The tossing wake of billows aft,
The bending forests green,
The chickens sheltered under carts
In lee of barn the cows,
The skurrying swine with straw in mouth,
The wild spray from our bows!

"She balances!
She wavers!
Now let her go about!
If she misses stays and broaches to,
We're all"--then with a shout,]
"Huray! huray!
Avast! belay!
Take in more sail!
Lord, what a gale!
Ho, boy, haul taut on the hind mule's tail!"
"Ho! lighten ship! ho! man the pump!
Ho, hostler, heave the lead!

"A quarter-three!--'tis shoaling fast!
Three feet large!--t-h-r-e-e feet!--
Three feet scant!" I cried in fright
"Oh, is there no retreat?"

Said Dollinger, the pilot man,
As on the vessel flew,
"Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through."

A panic struck the bravest hearts,
The boldest cheek turned pale;
For plain to all, this shoaling said
A leak had burst the ditch's bed!
And, straight as bolt from crossbow sped,
Our ship swept on, with shoaling lead,
Before the fearful gale!

"Sever the tow-line! Cripple the mules!"
Too late! There comes a shock!
Another length, and the fated craft
Would have swum in the saving lock!

Then gathered together the shipwrecked crew
And took one last embrace,
While sorrowful tears from despairing eyes
Ran down each hopeless face;
And some did think of their little ones
Whom they never more might see,
And others of waiting wives at home,
And mothers that grieved would be.

But of all the children of misery there
On that poor sinking frame,
But one spake words of hope and faith,
And I worshipped as they came:
Said Dollinger the pilot man,--
(O brave heart, strong and true!)--
"Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
For he will fetch you through."

Lo! scarce the words have passed his lips
The dauntless prophet say'th,
When every soul about him seeth
A wonder crown his faith!

And count ye all, both great and small,
As numbered with the dead:
For mariner for forty year,
On Erie, boy and man,
I never yet saw such a storm,
Or one't with it began!"

So overboard a keg of nails
And anvils three we threw,
Likewise four bales of gunny-sacks,
Two hundred pounds of glue,
Two sacks of corn, four ditto wheat,
A box of books, a cow,
A violin, Lord Byron's works,
A rip-saw and a sow.

A curve! a curve! the dangers grow!
"Labbord!--stabbord!--s-t-e-a-d-y!--so!--
Hard-a-port, Dol!--hellum-a-lee!
Haw the head mule!--the aft one gee!
Luff!--bring her to the wind!"

For straight a farmer brought a plank,--
(Mysteriously inspired)--
And laying it unto the ship,
In silent awe retired.

Then every sufferer stood amazed
That pilot man before;
A moment stood. Then wondering turned,
And speechless walked ashore.


by Mark Twain |

Those Annual Bills

 These annual bills! these annual bills!
How many a song their discord trills
Of "truck" consumed, enjoyed, forgot,
Since I was skinned by last year's lot!

Those joyous beans are passed away;
Those onions blithe, O where are they?
Once loved, lost, mourned--now vexing ILLS
Your shades troop back in annual bills!

And so 'twill be when I'm aground
These yearly duns will still go round,
While other bards, with frantic quills,
Shall damn and damn these annual bills!


by Mark Twain |

To Jennie

 Good-bye! a kind good-bye,
I bid you now, my friend,
And though 'tis sad to speak the word,
To destiny I bend

And though it be decreed by Fate
That we ne'er meet again,
Your image, graven on my heart,
Forever shall remain.

Aye, in my heart thoult have a place,
Among the friends held dear,-
Nor shall the hand of Time efface
The memories written there.
Goodbye,
S.L.C.


by Henry Van Dyke |

A Health to Mark Twain

 At his Birthday Feast

With memories old and wishes new
We crown our cups again,
And here's to you, and here's to you
With love that ne'er shall wane!
And may you keep, at sixty-seven,
The joy of earth, the hope of heaven,
And fame well-earned, and friendship true,
And peace that comforts every pain,
And faith that fights the battle through,
And all your heart's unbounded wealth,
And all your wit, and all your health,--
Yes, here's a hearty health to you,
And here's to you, and here's to you,
Long life to you, Mark Twain.