William L. (William Linn) Keese.

The Siamese twins, and other poems online

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The Siamese Twins
And Other Poems

The Siamese Twins

And Other Poems


William Linn Keese

Edwin W. Dayton

Bookseller and Publisher

763 Fifth Avenue

New York


Copyright, 1902, by




The Siamese Twins 3

Newton's Blast 13

Farrington's Feat 20

After the Wedding " . . 24

Sic Transit 28

A Modern Enchanter 32

On the Avon 37

Captain Joe ' 40

The King of the Road 42

At the Lake 44

A Tough Customer 47

Name and Fame 50

Captain Costentenus 52

A Summer Idyl 55

Lake Otsego 58

A Memory 61

The Author of "Rudder Grange " in a New Role . 63




Ascertain Your Weight 66

Apple Blossoms 69

Inspiration 70

Captain Calm 73

An Olden Echo 76

Thistle and Volunteer 78

My Flower 80

The March to Canton 8 1

To E. F 83

George Eliot 85

A Ribbon 86

My Study 89

The Game of Love 92

True to Principle 93

To Edmund Clarence Stedman 94

Ballade of an Ass 95

Instinct or Reason 97

Queen and Woman 101

James William Wallack 105

Lester Wallack 106

James H. Hackett 107

Dion Boucicault ... 108



Edward A. Sothern 109

John T. Raymond ........... 1 10

Charles Fechter 1 1 1

J. S. Clarke 112

Mary Anderson 113

Joseph Jefferson 115

Acknowledgments are due Messrs. Harper & Bros, for kind permission to print

the poem "Ascertain Your Weight," and to Ladies' Home Journal for

like permission to print the poem "The King of the Road."

The Siamese Twins
And Other Poems



J/ T A IS common to speak of things in pairs:

.1 A pair of eyes or a pair of stairs ;
And a pair of legs the stairs may climb,
With a pair of trousers for sake of rhyme;
A pair of gloves, and a pair of shoes,
The hands and feet to match if you choose;
A pair of scissors ; a pair of bellows ;
A pair of capital jolly fellows;
A pair of pigeons, a pair of wings
And pairs of numerous other things ;
But the pair with which my lay begins

Is that singular dual,

Original plural,
Known round the world as the Siamese Twins.


From far Siam came my heroes hight,
(The land where the elephant bleaches white,)
Whence Siamese; and if ease they ever
Enjoyed, it must have been there, for never,

The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

When in this country they cast their lots,
Did they heed the teachings of Doctor Watts.
Their names were respectively Eng and Chang,
Their surname Bunker, which has a twang
Of that Island, you know, just off Cape Cod,
Nantucket yclept; and it 's rather odd
That a name so calmly unsentimental
Should be borne by a native Oriental.
Conceive yourself saying "Mr. Bunker!"
To either festive Siamese younker
Bunker, avaunt! thou hast no claim
To Chang and Eng's united fame.


Their names grew out of a family hitch,

How best to label t'other from which;

And we gather from this domestic plight

That Chang meant "left" and Eng meant "right"

Suggesting that choice American game,

Which, had Chang and Eng ever played the same,

They certainly would have won off-hand,

For both held the "bowers," you understand.

As regards their boyhood we 're in the dark,

For only at manhood they made their mark.

No doubt it was much the same as others ;

Of Music probably they were lovers;

And if they were the Muse discovers
Their favorite song "We 're A Band of Brothers !"


The Siamese Twins


The first that we knew

Of this famous Two,
Was when they were brought to public view

By Barnum the Great,

Who then was in state
On the corner so near St. Paul's ;
And then within those famous walls
Were Thomas Thumb and the Woolly Horse,
By which we were gently fleeced of course ;
The Bearded Lady one there might see,
With her chaste moustache and mild goatee;
(And whate'er may be said of Barnum's taste,
This humbug, at least, was not bare-faced;)
The Quaker Giant was popular then,
A colossal edition of William Penn;
And the Feejee Mermaid held crowds in awe
With her scaly tail and her open jaw.
But everything dwarfed (including Thumb),
And the Happy Family, even, grew glum,
When Barnum produced his greatest wonder
Two Men that never could live asunder!

The people flowed in like Croton water,
Paying, each one, an American quarter;
For these were the days before the War,
When Grant was a tanner and gold was at par.


The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

Little dreamed he of being the hero

To wield the sword and to pen the veto.

The fame of the Twins grew, at once, apace;

And this seems quite an apposite place

To succinctly paint

Their appearance quaint;

To endeavor to fix,

Without being prolix,
The aspect strange of these specimen bricks.


And in the beginning we must admit
Their beauty would never have made a hit

In court or in bower :

The fact is, their dower
Was something better than beauty or wit,
Stature or strength, or grace of action
A thing which reminds one of Shakespeare's Jew,
At the time Antonio looked so blue
A bond of flesh was their great attraction.
This band extended from breast to breast,
And Chang & Eng was the firm expressed.
The business they did was a joint affair,
Like other copartnerships, each had share;
The only thing they could not divorce
Was the gristle that Nature held in force.
Not even in easy Indiana
Could the tie be severed in any manner.

The Siamese Twins


What shall be said of this state of things,

Prolific of many imaginings?

Suppose, for a moment, Chang were ill,

And felt like remaining perfectly still,

And Eng felt splendidly, au contraire,

And of all things wanted to take the air

How would they fix it ! Why Eng, of course,

Must stick to his brother's side, perforce,

And hear him fret and murmur and groan,

And see pills and powders down him thrown

Be dragged off finally, willy-nilly,

To bed at an hour absurdly silly,

And lie there, trying to sleep in vain,

With thoughts that were certainly most profane.

Or suppose some fell, contagious thing,

Small-pox, for instance, had captured Eng.

Unhappy Chang would be sure to catch it,

And then how inconceivably wretched

The situation, for brother and brother

Would then be pitted against each other!

Or, fancy that Eng was to church inclined,

And Chang preferred to remain behind

Either Eng must relinquish his pious path,

Or Chang go with him in holy wrath!

Ah, how hard the fate

That makes one await
The whim of another without debate!


The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

And thus with Chang for Chang was weak,
And Eng had only his wish to speak;

And if Chang demurred,

Then, without a word,
Eng punched him for being so absurd!

Some folks there are

Who quote Hudibras,
And say, that he who runs away
May live to fight another day.
But here there could be no such thing,
For how could Chang run off from Eng?


S.uch were their lively domestic wars,

But never, of course, at exhibition;
The public saw nothing of family jars

When they paid the twenty -five-cent admission.
All they saw was a singular freak

Of nature, aforetime seen by no man,
And was of luck a lucrative streak,

To the blandly-smiling, complacent showman.
Every day brought a curious crowd,
And wonder was vented long and loud,
As the Twins stood up with band between,
To be duly gaped at, and felt, and seen,
By the baby-in-arms and the horrid boy;
The gay gallant and the maiden coy;
The husband young and his blushing bride;

The Siamese Twins

The family man and his smiling dame;
Aunts and mothers-in-law beside;

People in all the paths of fame,
Of every profession and every grade;
Arts, manufactures, commerce and trade;

Of every nation and every name;
Nay, even the deaf and dumb and lame;
And the "deaf and dumb" of course give rise
To the rather matter-of-fact surmise,
That they probably gazed in mute surprise,
All these to the halls of Barnum came,
Till even the sidewalk,
Although quite a wide walk,
Was filled with a jostling crowd of the same.


And now it was that many M. D.'s,
Physicians of high and low degrees,
Began to be rather interested,
And wanted to have the question tested
If surgical skill could the Twins divide,
And Nature's whim be with knife defied?
Far and near the excitement spread;
It bothered each ^Esculapian head :
They thought of it lying awake in bed;
Thousands of works were bought and read-
But the end of it all was simply this :
They felt less likely to hit than miss.

The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

And so the conundrum can human art
Take these two-volumes-in-one apart?
Was given up, and the Twins went on
Attracting their fish with a hook of brawn.

And much of the lucre they laid away

For that axiomatic "rainy day,"

Which means in spirit, if not in letter,

If you have an umbrella you won't get wetter ;

And the Twins resolved in their sunny hours

To be prepared for possible showers.

For, now that I think of it, then, you know,

The Bureau of Weather did n't show,

And quite important were such utilities

In the absence of daily "Probabilities."

However, the fact was as I 've said it

Their Balance of Cash was a chronic credit.

In mercantile phrase, their Stock Account

Was good for a very healthy amount.

So, weary grown of being admired,

Their contract, too, having just expired,

From public life Chang and Eng retired.

It is n't recorded in any book,
How each the digit of Baraum shook;
How the Quaker Giant returned their bow,
And called one Thee and the other Thou;

The Siamese Twins

How a gallant and fond adieu they waved
To the hirsute Lady who never shaved ;

And with mournful face

Passed by the case

Containing the Mermaid of Feejee race;
And a last and lingering sad look cast
On the Happy Family, now all aghast;
And in silence pressed, for grief made them dumb,
The pigmy fingers of Thomas Thumb
And so they forever left the scene

Those undivided Two,
And with the band of flesh between

Marched forth to pastures new.


We cannot those "pastures new" explore;

They open a matrimonial door,

A door, on the whole, we decline to enter,

And here the Muse must, perforce, content her.

We may, perhaps, mention that damsels two

Enamored became, chacun a son gout!

Sailed gleefully over the ocean blue;

And the quartette finding it awkward to woo,

And out of the question to bill and coo,

Were married without the slightest ado.

And whether the parson had double fee

For making these couples glad,
We cannot tell; but we 11 all agree

That he certainly should have had.

The Siamese Twins and Other Poems


But, alas, the Twins are now no more!

They died in Eighteen Seventy-four;

And their wives and children, where'er they be,

No part in this chronicle may see.

Only a backward glance to throw

On what was of interest years ago

As our fathers often delight to talk

Of landmarks and features of Old New York

Is our story's aim except to pay,

In a sort of bio-graphical way,

A tribute, albeit of little worth,

To the famous Brothers of Siamese birth.

And when they died, it was good to know

That one fear of old was at once decided;
They had lived very much together, and so

In death they were not divided.



The famous engineering exploit of General Newton, celebrated in the following
poem, was consummated, it will be remembered, by the destruction of Hallett's
Reef, at Hell Gate, on the afternoon of September 24, 1876.

NOW list to a tale of blast galore,
That happened September twenty and four,
In Eighteen hundred and seventy-six.
The reason I 'm careful the date to fix

Is because the mind,

As we often find,

As time rolls on seems rather inclined
To forget than remember a certain date,
That held an event or affair of weight,
Be the same of science, or church, or state.
How many are often sore perplexed
When asked the place of a Bible text,
And as likely refer you to Jeremiah
For a verse that is only in Obadiah.
And is n't it always an awful task
To answer the questions one might ask
Relating to facts of general history?
The facts we know, but the dates are mystery !
For instance, can any one name the day
When Andre was stopped on the King's highway,
When Arnold was trying his country to barter?
And can you conveniently tell me, pray,
The date of the signing of Magna Charta?

The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

What year immortalized William Harvey?
When did Jenner with milkmaid parley?
Is any one just at this moment able
To say when was laid the Atlantic Cable?
You have n't forgotten, at least, I hope,
When Farrington crossed on the wire rope,
From tower to tower, not long ago?
You have? Well, did n't I tell you so!

So you see I 'm right, if I am prolix,
In making my mind up the date to fix
Of that stupendous and awful event,
To see which thousands of people went;

Which is, to wit,

The Blast that split,
And knocked into smithereens every bit
Of that horrible rock called Hallett's Reef,
Where many a ship has come to grief;

But never more

Shall the rocky jaw

Of Charybdis stand open to glut its maw,
And devour its victims, hull and spar.
For there came a time when its doom was cast,
And now the terrible crisis is past;
The cavernous monster is crushed at last
By the dynamite thunder of Newton's Blast!

In Eighteen hundred and sixty-nine,
I think it was but of that no matter

Newton's Blast

The man who conceived the grand design

Of making this rockery somewhat flatter,

Came down to look at the place infernal,

And his name was Newton, Lieutenant-Colonel.

He came by Federal invitation,

Armed with a fat appropriation,

And his object was to destroy forever

This stumbling block of the flowing river,

And make it decent for navigation.

For since the day that Van Kortlandt's ship

Sailed thither with Oloffe and Hendrick Kip,

The place had been growing worse and worse,

And constantly made the captains curse,

When their vessels holes in their bottoms got,

Or, as frequently happened, went to Pot!

So the Colonel came and surveyed the scene;

His heart was strong and his eye was keen ;

He saw where the water boiled and hissed

Above and around the rocky lair,

And whether he hit or whether he missed,

He would go for the demon then and there,

And never whisper the word despair.

But soon he was given to understand

That only by taking it underhand

Could he conquer his foe in wonder-land.

Behold him then on that famous shore,

Beginning his work

With never a shirk,
With an iron will and an iron bore.

The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

And for seven long years he bored away,
Forgetting the world and all around him;
Winter and summer, night and day,
In his subterranean burrow found him.

Boring and drilling,

With dynamite filling

The holes, and when loaded

The same were exploded,

And masses of rock

Tumbled down with a shock,

And then were dragged out

And piled all about,

Till a mountain arose at the Government station
Of the debris that came from the Reef's excavation.
And now was seen the Newtonian plan:
From the shaft leading down beneath the wave
A series of tunnels, suggesting a fan,
Ran into the reef and formed a cave;
And others transversely cut those through,
Till the heart of the rock a wonder grew
Of columns and arches not a few;
But hardly a grotto for nymph or siren
It resembled, to take a poetic view,
The dungeon of Chillon described by Byron.
These columns sustained, now bear in mind,
The superincumbent mass of stone,
And, of course, if Newton were so inclined,
They would stand forever if left alone;
But he, not having the slightest feeling,
Would blast the columns and drop the ceiling!

Newton's Blast

Holes in the pillars he 'd calmly drill,
Those same holes with dynamite fill ;
A wire would pass through every charge
Connecting with several wires at large;
Those wires at large would then be led
To a battery under a bomb-proof shed,
With a jolly torpedo overhead,
And another wire from that, you see,
To the firing point and electric key.
Now press the key at the lightning's call
The jolly torpedo is seen to fall
Plump on the battery, not to hurt it,
Only to make the electric circuit.
Darts the spark to the gathered wires,
That spark that never delays nor tires,
And in a jiffy the whole thing fires!
And Newton thinks the effect of that
Will be that Hallett will tumble flat.
Thus waxed prophetic the Engineer,
And now the appointed day is here!

Day broke with a very unusual stir,
And it broke all cloudy and rainy too;
But that did not in the least deter
A crowd from flocking to points of view;
And every available spot was black
With the constantly gathering human pack.
And those remaining at home were fain
To sit and play with a time-piece chain

The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

And whenever a clock

Around the block,

Or the City Hall,

Or Trinity tall,

Rang out the hour, with each vibration
They pulled out their watches for regulation;
Till it came to pass, at Two forty-five,
That stoops and windows were all alive
With people who waited all day to see
What Newton meant by


For that was the last official warning

In the New York papers on Sunday morning.

Newton stands at the firing point ;
Close at his hand the electric key,
A touch of which will the rock disjoint,
And give to Science the mastery.
Whose hand shall press that ivory knob,
And awaken the lightning's awful throb?
Lo! the hand of a child! for now appears
A little maiden of tender years.
Her hand shall send the electric spark
To the flooded rock 'neath the waters dark.
The General receives this potent fairy,
His daughter she is, and her name is Mary.
And now full swiftly the minutes pass
But one remains! and the smiling lass
In her father's arms looks sweet delight,
While all are thinking of Dynamite!

Newton's Blast

The moment has come! Ten minutes to Three!

And a baby has set the lightning free !

Drops the torpedo, and then a Boom,

Which makes one think of the crack of doom,

And a column of water rises there,

Returning with terrible crash and slam,

And wildly seeking the upper air

Go the sad remains of the coffer-dam !

A moment's convulsion, and all is still;

But Newton and Science have had their will.

And when we sail, as hereafter we may,
Where no longer we need to be wary,
Let us never fail this tribute to pay
Three Cheers for Newton who won the day,
And a "tiger" for Little Mary !


LL hail immortal Farrington!

The dauntless Engineer,
Who hath the crown of glory won
In this Centennial year.

On August twenty-sixth, this man,

Like some colossal midge,
Was seen to flit across the span

Of our stupendous Bridge.

To celebrate this hero's flight,

O Muse, my pen inspire,
That I in numbers may relate

How he traversed the wire.

They talk of Tell's historic lad,

When it was hit or miss;
A narrow escape indeed he had

A narrower one was this!

And what was Israel Putnam's ride,

Or Dan O'Leary's walk,
To this bold leap across the tide

'Twixt Brooklyn and New York?

1 Farrington was the first man to cross the span of the

Brooklyn Bridge.


Farrington's Feat

The only being who essayed

Achievement like this thing,
Was Paganini, he who played

The fiddle on one string!

There stretched the wires at dizzy height

Above the flow and ebb,
So high, they seemed to human sight

Titanic spiders' web !

Now is it true that mortal can

That thread of iron ride?
You might as well expect a man

A kite-string to astride!

But ah, what mean the deafening cheers?

And what the skyward stare?
Lo! "buggy" 't is that now appears,

Suspended in mid air.

And when I say a "buggy," mind

I do not mean, of course,
A creature of the insect kind,

Or wagon for a horse

A "buggy" is a cage, in fact,

Composed of iron straps,
And not unlike to be exact

A hoop-skirt in collapse.


The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

But what is that behind the bars?

And echo answers what?
So far from earth, so near the stars,

It seemeth but a dot.

(A dot! now what a chance this is

To make a fearful pun.
I '11 do it in parenthesis

A dot, and carry one!)

A dot, and well it carries one

Above the briny deep
The dauntless eyes of Farrington

From out the buggy peep.

And now is heard the engine's toil,
And, slowly o'er the grooves,

Yet smoothly, as tho' led through oil,
The wire "traveler" moves.

And, with its precious human freight,

It bears the buggy on,
While far below the conquered strait

Owns its dominion gone.

And now, at last triumphant hour!

The traveler's course is sped.
And Farrington, from yonder tower,

Proclaims two cities wed!

Farrington's Feat

Hurrah! hurrah! for Farrington!

And let the cannon roar,
Until the echo of each gun

Resound from shore to shore.

Ten thousand eyes beheld thy deed
On that immortal day

And may the same glad optics read
This unpretending lay.


ALL alone in my room at last!
XJL I wonder how far they have traveled now?
They '11 be very far when the night is past;

And so would I, if I knew but how.
How lovely she looked in her wreath and dress,

She is queenlier far than the village girls ;
Those were roses, too, in the wreath, I guess

'T was they made the crimson among the curls.

She is good as beautiful, too, they say;

Her heart is as gentle as any dove's;
She '11 be all that she can to him, alway

Dear! I am tearing my new white gloves.
How calm she is, with her saint-like face!

Her eyes are violet mine are blue :
How careless I am with my mother's lace!

Her hands are whiter and softer, too.

They 've gone to the city beyond the hill;

They must never come back to this place again;
I 'm almost afraid to be here so still

I wish it would thunder and lighten and rain!
Oh no ! for some may not be abed ;

Some few, perhaps, may be out to-night;
I hope that the moon will come instead,

And heaven be starry and earth all light.

After the Wedding

'T is only a summer that she 's been here

It 's been my home for seventeen years !
But her name is a testament far and near,

And the poor have embalmed it in priceless tears.
I remember the day when another came

There, at last I 've tied my hair;
Her curls and mine were nearly the same,

But hers are longer, and mine less fair.

They 're going across the sea, I know:

Across the ocean will that be far?
Did I have my comb a moment ago !

I seem to forget where my things all are.
When ships are wrecked, do the people drown?

Is there never a boat to save the crew?
Poor ships ! If ever my ship goes down,

I '11 want a grave in the ocean, too.

Good-night! good-night! it is striking one;

Good-night to bride and good-night to groom!
The light of my candle is almost done;

I wish my bed was in mother's room !
How calm it looks in the midnight shade!

Those curtains were hung there clean to-day ;
They 're all too white for me, I 'ni afraid :

Perhaps I may soon be as white as they.

Dark, all dark ! for the light is dead.
Father in heaven, may I have rest?


The Siamese Twins and Other Poems

One hour of sleep for my weary head,

For this breaking heart in my poor, poor breast.
For his sweet sake, do I kneel and pray ;

Oh God, protect him from change and ill ;
And render her worthier every way,

The older, the purer, the lovelier still.

There, I knew I was going to cry ;

I have kept the tears in my soul too long :
Oh let me say it, or I shall die!

As heaven is witness, I mean no wrong.
He never shall hear from this secret room;

He never shall know, in the after years,
How seventeen summers of happy bloom

Fell dead one night in a moment of tears !

I loved him more than she understands;

For him I loaded my soul with truth;
For him I am kneeling with lifted hands.

To lay at his feet my shattered youth !
I love, I adore him still the same !

More than father and mother and life!
My hope of hopes was to bear his name,

My heaven of heavens to be his wife !

His wife! Oh name which the angels breathe,
Let it not crimson my cheek, for shame!

J T is her great glory, her word to wreathe

In the princely heart from whose blood it came.

After the Wedding

Oh hush! again I behold them stand,

As they stood to-night, by the chancel wall :

I see him holding her white-gloved hand;
I hear his voice in a whisper fall.

I see the minister's silver hair;

I see him kneel at the altar-stone ;
I see him rise when the prayer is o'er :

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