Poetry—Under-appreciated Works…

Thoughtful Readers…

I have said several times on these pages that I do not write much poetry. That does not mean that I do not like poetry. Nor does it mean that I can not appreciate poetic works for the value they add to society. The fact is, I read a lot of poetry. On occasion, while reading some sort of literature, I stumble upon a work that I have never before seen or heard. I try to look it up, and find precious little about it or a lot of supposition that creates only additional questions. It is essentially a “lost” work. Usually (and in fact always in this blog…), these works are unknown. That is to say the author is unknown. Usually the date of the work is unknown as well. These works have existed for some time and because someone, somewhere wrote them down, they still exist.

One other thing to note. Please understand, that these works are not mine. I did not control the author’s writing, or their use of words and terminology. That is a nice way to say that I am not responsible for the political correctness (or lack thereof…) of the words or thoughts as expressed in these works. It is not my intent to cause any consternation among the readers here, or to imply any form of prejudice or bias based on nationality, politics, creed, race, religion or anything else you would care to assign to it. This is the way the authors wrote them….and hence the way they appear here.

If you read these works and recognize them, good for you. You are ahead of me. I did not. My only purpose here is to keep some of these obscure works from fading into the great abyss.

This first work is one I found some years back and wrote it down. There seems to be some disagreement about when and where it came from, and there are several versions of it. Once again, author unknown.  

The Devil, we’re told, in hell was chained,  
And a thousand years he there remained,  
And he never complained, nor did he groan,  
But determined to start a hell of his own  
Where he could torment the souls of men  
Without being chained to a prison pen.  
So he asked the Lord if He had on hand  
Anything left when He made the land.  
The Lord said, “Yes, I had plenty on hand,  
But I left it down on the Rio Grande.  
The fact is, old boy, the stuff is so poor,  
I don’t think you could use it in hell any more.”  
But the devil went down to look at the truck,  
And said if it came as a gift, he was stuck;  
For after examining it careful and well  
He concluded the place was too dry for hell.  
So in order to get it off His hands  
God promised the devil to water the lands.  
For He had some water, or rather some dregs,  
A regular cathartic that smelled like bad eggs.  
Hence the deal was closed and the deed was given,  
And the Lord went back to His place in Heaven.  
And the devil said, “I have all that is needed  
To make a good hell,” and thus he succeeded.  
He began to thorns on all the trees,  
And he mixed the sand with millions of fleas.  
He scattered tarantulas along all the roads,  
Put thorns on the cacti and horns on the toads;  
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steers  
And put an addition on jack rabbits’ ears.  
He put little devils in the broncho steed  
And poisoned the feet of the centipede.  
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,  
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.  
The sand burrs prevail, so do the ants,  
And those that sit down need half soles on their pants.  
The devil then said that throughout the land  
He’d manage to keep up the devil’s own brand,  
And all would be mavericks unless they bore  
The marks of scratches and bites by the score.  
The heat in the summer is a hundred and ten,  
Too hot for the devil and too hot for men.  
The wild boar roams through the black chaparral,  
It’s a hell of a place he has for a hell;  
The red pepper grows by the bank of the brook,  
The Mexicans use it in all that they cook.  
Just dine with one once and then you will shout,  
“I’ve a hell on the inside as well as without.”  


As always, comments welcome.
Be well,


14 thoughts on “Poetry—Under-appreciated Works…

  1. It seems to be an identity piece tracing back the roots of good ol’ Texas, drawing elements of fantasy to illustrate elements of the region.

    “He began to thorns on all the trees,
    And he mixed the sand with millions of fleas.
    He scattered tarantulas along all the roads,
    Put thorns on the cacti and horns on the toads;
    He lengthened the horns of the Texas steers
    And put an addition on jack rabbitsโ€™ ears.”

    Texas’ own wild and particular elements are emphasized in their relation to the fallen one’s idiosyncracies. From “thorns” to “horns,” the devil is exemplified.

    I could be wrong, but this is my two cents. Great Find!

    • Interesting commentary.! The piece is not new…definitely more than a hundred years old, maybe older than that. The verbiage would seem to place it as a relatively recent work (contextually speaking). That is to say, not multiple hundreds of years old. I found it some years ago in a old coverless book of poetry. IIRC the copyright date of the book was in the 1930’s. Because of the wording (and references to this work as both a song and a poem..) I would place it during reconstruction days but in any event post Mexican war.
      Thanks for your insight and commentary!

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