Ode to Stephen Dowling Bots by Mark Twain

Ode To Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec’d

by Mark Twain

EIL Editior’s note: Originally appearing in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a work by Emmaline Grangerford (a caricature of Twain’s contemporary Julia A. Moore), Twain intended Ode To Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec’d as an example of “the touch that makes an intentionally humorous episode pathetic and an intentionally pathetic one funny.”


Mark Twain; from a glass negative

Mark Twain; from a glass negative
Image from the Library of Congress.

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.


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy EIL’s collection of other Mark Twain poetry. Of course, in addition to fiction and poetry, Mark Twain was also an excellent writer of prose pieces. EIl’s selection of these can be found here.

If you’d like to learn more about this author you can read our Mark Twain biography or explore our other Mark Twain Resources.


When will you read Mark Twain’s writing in Excellence in Literature?

E1.3 Focus text: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court OR Joan of Arc

E1.3 Honors text: The Prince and the Pauper

E3.6 Focus text: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

E3.6 Honors text: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

%d bloggers like this: