[Irwin Russell was born in Port Gibson, Mississippi, in 1853. After graduating from the St. Louis University in 1869 he chose the profession of law, but the young lawyer never had a case in court because his interests were turning steadily to literature.
His first contribution to Scribner's Monthly appeared in 1876. During the yellow-fever epidemic of 1878 he lost his father, and, thrown on his own resources, he started to New York, intending to make a livelihood through writing. Soon after arriving there he was stricken with a dangerous fever. When he recovered he shipped on a vessel for New Orleans and worked his passage by coal heaving. In New Orleans he spent several months of poverty and distress, attempting to earn a living by writing for newspapers. His life of promise was ended in 1879 under pitiable circumstances. Nine years later his poems were collected into a small volume.]
You, Nebuchadnezzah, whoa, sah!
Whar is you tryin' to go, sah?
I'd nab you fur to know, sah,
I's a-holdin' ob de lines.
- The selections from Russell are reprinted through the kind permission of the holder of the copyright, the Century Company.