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Category: Funny Narrative Poems
       Classic humorous and funny story poems. Narrative poems are written accounts of connected events in poetry format.

  WILLIAM BROWN OF OREGON  

They called him Bill, the hired man,
    But she, her name was Mary Jane,
    The Squire's daughter; and to reign
The belle from Ber-she-be to Dan
Her little game. How lovers rash
    Got mittens at the spelling school!
    How many a mute, inglorious fool
Wrote rhymes and sighed and died--mustache!

This hired man had loved her long,
    Had loved her best and first and last,
    Her very garments as she passed
For him had symphony and song.
So when one day with sudden frown
    She called him "Bill," he raised his head,
    He caught her eye and, faltering, said,
"I love you; and my name is Brown."

She fairly waltzed with rage; she wept;
    You would have thought the house on fire.
    She told her sire, the portly squire,
Then smelt her smelling-salts, and slept.
Poor William did what could be done;
    He swung a pistol on each hip,
    He gathered up a great ox-whip,
And drove toward the setting sun.

He crossed the great back-bone of earth,
    He saw the snowy mountains rolled
    Like mighty billows; saw the gold
Of awful sunsets; felt the birth
Of sudden dawn that burst the night
    Like resurrection; saw the face
    Of God and named it boundless space
Ringed round with room and shoreless light.

Her lovers passed. Wolves hunt in packs,
    They sought for bigger game; somehow
    They seemed to see above her brow
The forky sign of turkey tracks.
The teter-board of life goes up,
    The teter-board of life goes down,
    The sweetest face must learn to frown;
The biggest dog has been a pup.

O maidens! pluck not at the air;
    The sweetest flowers I have found
    Grow rather close unto the ground,
And highest places are most bare.
Why, you had better win the grace
    Of our poor cussed Af-ri-can,
    Than win the eyes of every man
In love alone with his own face.

At last she nursed her true desire.
    She sighed, she wept for William Brown,
    She watched the splendid sun go down
Like some great sailing ship on fire,
Then rose and checked her trunk right on;
    And in the cars she lunched and lunched,
    And had her ticket punched and punched,
Until she came to Oregon.

She reached the limit of the lines,
    She wore blue specs upon her nose,
    Wore rather short and manly clothes,
And so set out to reach the mines.
Her pocket held a parasol
    Her right hand held a Testament,
    And thus equipped right on she went,
Went water-proof and water-fall.

She saw a miner gazing down,
    Slow stirring something with a spoon;
    "O, tell me true and tell me soon,
What has become of William Brown?"
He looked askance beneath her specs,
    Then stirred his cocktail round and round.
    Then raised his head and sighed profound,
And said, "He's handed in his checks."

Then care fed on her damaged cheek,
    And she grew faint, did Mary Jane,
    And smelt her smelling-salts in vain,
She wandered, weary, worn, and weak.
At last, upon a hill alone.
    She came, and there she sat her down;
    For on that hill there stood a stone,
And, lo! that stone read, "William Brown."

"O William Brown! O William Brown!
    And here you rest at last," she said,
    "With this lone stone above your head,
And forty miles from any town!
I will plant cypress trees, I will,
    And I will build a fence around,
    And I will fertilise the ground
With tears enough to turn a mill."

She went and got a hired man,
    She brought him forty miles from town,
    And in the tall grass squatted down
And bade him build as she should plan.
But cruel cow-boys with their bands
    They saw, and hurriedly they ran
    And told a bearded cattle man
Somebody builded on his lands.

He took his rifle from the rack,
    He girt himself in battle pelt,
    He stuck two pistols in his belt,
And, mounting on his horse's back,
He plunged ahead. But when they showed
    A woman fair, about his eyes
    He pulled his hat, and he likewise
Pulled at his beard, and chewed and chewed.

At last he gat him down and spake:
    "O lady dear, what do you here?"
    "I build a tomb unto my dear,
I plant sweet flowers for his sake."
The bearded man threw his two hands
    Above his head, then brought them down
    And cried, "Oh, I am William Brown,
And this the corner-stone of my lands!"

                                            Joaquin Miller.


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