I loved reading it when I was a kid. Then I kinda forgot about it until I heard Garrison Keillor mention the author’s birthday in a recent Writers Almanac podcast.
The actual title is “The Duel.” To take a nostalgic trip to your childhood–or to read the poem for the first time–click on the cover image.
The poet, Eugene Field, also wrote “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” another popular poem. This one was originally titled “Dutch Lullaby” and was published in March 1889.
He didn’t have a stellar college career, probably because playing pranks was a lot more fun than studying. He started out at Williams College (Massachusetts) but also attended Knox College in Illinois and the University of Missouri in Columbia.
These weren’t simple pranks either. Field actually painted the president’s house the school colors and raided the guy’s wine cellar.
Eventually he settled in St. Joseph, Missouri, married, and had a family. He worked first as a journalist for the St. Joseph Gazette and later as a popular columnist for the Chicago Tribune. In between, he wrote for newspapers in St. Louis and Denver.
Thanks to his talent for humorous poems and stories, this “poet of childhood” is remembered throughout the Midwest. For example, his boyhood home in St. Louis is now open to the public as the Field House Museum (formerly the Eugene Field House and St. Louis Toy Museum. He also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Several elementary schools have been named for him–and not just in the Midwestern states. The list is long, but includes schools in New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, California, and South Dakota.
Another historical note: Field’s father was Roswell Martin Field who represented Dred Scott in the landmark Dred Scott v. Landsford case.
Johnnie imagines a variety of stories whether she’s at home in Oklahoma or on the road. Her second cozy mystery releases from Annie’s Fiction later this summer, and her latest historical novella will appear in The Erie Canal Brides Collection (releasing from Barbour Books in March 2019). She’s on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, a co-host for Writers Chat, and interviews inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. Sharing her vagabond life are Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with Johnnie at www.johnnie-alexander.com and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.