AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'INVOCATION', signed ('Mark Twain'), 20 lines in three four-line stanzas and one of eight-lines, incorporated in a letter to an onboard friend 'Jack', written 'At Sea', promising to celebrate his birthday that evening making 'all the noise the captain will allow', describing him as a naturalist and explaining that the poem is for those interested in the fauna of Australia, as he is, and therefore sending 'privately & confidentially' a copy of his 'great work'; he also mentions that he has not yet worked in the moa, emu or dodo ('but I am after them'), the poem 1 page, octavo, the letter 2 pages, octavo on conjoined sheets, 'At Sea', 29 August 1895
Come forth from thy oozy couch,
O Ornithorynchus dear,
And greet with a cordial claw
The stranger that longs to hear...
Come, Kangaroo, the good & true,
Foreshortened as to legs,
And body tapered like a churn...
The poem was first published in The Mercury in Australia on 2 November 1895; Clemens himself printed it in Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World, 1897, and explained that an English naturalist [presumably the addressee 'Jack'] on board had told him much about the animals of Australia and their origins, particularly the platypus and kangaroo. The Mercury reported that at a lecture Clemens had stated: 'I have a poem. I have written a poem only once in 30 years. I have now written one of four stanzas...I always have an inspiration to write a poem -- once every 30 years...First I thought of Sydney Harbour...Then I thought of the fauna of Australia...I made a list of them and began...I can say now that the most difficult thing in the world to do is to write poetry when you don't know how...'
The main collections of Clemens's papers are at the University of California Library, Stanford, the Alderman Library, University of Virginia and Yale.
PROVENANCE: William Reese.