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Selected Poetry of Henry Clay Work (1832-1884)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a penny weight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopp'd short never to go again
When the old man died.
        (Grand-father's Clock)
  1. "Come Home, Father!"
  2. Grand-father's Clock
  3. Marching Through Georgia


Notes on Life and Works

Henry Clay Work, born on October 1, 1832, grew up in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of an active opponent of slavery, who helped thousands of slaves to escape north. Work took employment as a printer in Chicago in 1854, but in 1853, 1876-77, and 1882-83, Work wrote 75 songs, at first encouraged by the minstrel E. P. Christy, and then under contract to Root and Cady, music publishers. His only equals as composers of songs in the Civil War period were Stephen Foster and George Frederick Root. Work's most famous lyrics include Come Home, Father, Kingdom Coming (1862), Marching through Georgia, and Grandfather's Clock, which sold nearly one million copies. Work died on June 8, 1884, and was buried in Spring Grove cemetery, Hartford, beside his wife. A collected edition of 39 of his songs was published by his nephew Bertram G. Work. See Richard S. Hill, "The Mysterious Chord of Henry Clay Work," Notes 10 (1953): 211-25, 367-90, for more information about his biography.

Biographical information

Given name: Henry Clay
Family name: Work
Birth date: 1 October 1832
Death date: 8 June 1884
Nationality: American
Buried at: Spring Grove Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut