To Jennie by Mark Twain

To Jennie

by Mark Twain

EIL Editor’s note: Written upon the death of his niece, Jennie Clemens, To Jennie is Twain at his most somber. The only child of his brother Orion, Jennie was by all reports a sweet and pious girl who died at the age of eight from spotted fever. Twain stood vigil at her bedside as she died and her death affected him profoundly, serving as the catalyst for a famous exchange with the local newspaper in which he vented his grief and anger by excoriating both the paper and the profession of undertakers.


Mark Twain, c. 1907, photograph taken by A. F. Bradley; courtesy of the Steamboat Times website.

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.


Many thanks to Finn from the Steamboat Times website ( for graciously allowing us to use the author image on this page. We appreciate the work he has done to digitally clean the image. To the best of our knowledge, the original photograph is free of any copyright restrictions.


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

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