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Volume 0950
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Our ERB Influences Series

Copyright 2005: Knibbs Family Archive ~ Not for download or distribution
Cover Gallery
The Poem That Inspired the Mucker
Rare H. H. Knibbs Photo
"Out There Somewhere" and "Along The Shore"
Henry Herbert Knibbs: Cowboy Poet and Author
Knibbs Bibliography
Online References for Knibbs and ERB's The Mucker
Knibbs Books Currently Available

Cover painting by J. Allen St. JohnFrank Frazetta art for The Return of the Mucker

The title of Henry Herbert Knibb's poem, Out There Somewhere, was ERB’s original title for Part II of The Mucker, written in 1916. A prominent feature of this story was the educated vagabond named Bridge, who was continually breaking into verse with affectionate odes to the open road. Almost everything that is quoted by Bridge in The Mucker comes from the same Knibbs poem. Knibbs, born in 1874, was a Canadian-born contemporary of Burroughs, and it is clearly apparent that ERB was much taken by his verse. It was published in 1914 by the Houghton Mifflin Co. as part of a collection called Songs of the Outlands: Ballads of the Hoboes and Other Verse.
There is every indication that ERB actually was inspired to use his poem as a framework around which to build his story. “Out There Somewhere” has fourteen stanzas and Burroughs took them individually (not in their original order) and quoted no less than eleven of them all through the story. Stanzas 2 and 3, which ERB did not quote, appear to be the source for the character of Bridge. In addition to this, he used the last stanza to end the book, thus linking the conclusions of both works.

Through Bridge Burroughs paid a compliment not only to Knibbs but to some of his other favourite authors as well. Bridge also quoted Rudyard Kipling and Robert Service. In fact, the name "Bridge" could well be a pseudonym. In explaining how he came by the name Bridge says that it was "just a name a fellow gave me once up on the Yukon. I used to use a few words he'd never heard before, so he called me 'The Unabridged,' which was too long. The fellows shortened it to 'Bridge' and it stuck." He gives his full name as "L. Bridge." It is not much of a stretch to come to the conclusion that this poetry-quoting hobo from the Yukon could be Jack London. London was one of the few writers whom ERB admitted admiring. Soon after London's death in 1916 Burroughs even offered to write his biography.

It has been said that ERB also put much of himself into the character Bridge in The Mucker, and it has been speculated by some that for the use of Knibbs' verse in his books -- i.e. The Mucker and The Oakdale Affair -- ERB returned the favour by doing some writing for Knibbs. It is known that Burroughs went so far as to contact Knibbs in Los Angeles on October 18, 1916, a few months after Return of the Mucker (Out There Somewhere) appeared in All-Story Weekly (June 17 through July 15, 1916). The first hardcover publication of this sequel was by Methuen (London) in 1922. It appeared in England under the confusing name The Man Without A Soul which was the original magazine title (All-Story, November 1913) for The Monster Men.

Copyright 2005: Knibbs Family Archive ~ Not for download or distribution
Henry Herbert Knibbs as a Young Man
by Henry Herbert Knibbs 
(The numbers indicate the page where quoted in THE MUCKER) 

As I was hiking past the woods, the cool and sleepy summer woods, 
I saw a guy a-talking to the sunshine in the air; 
Thinks I, he’s going to have a fit -- I’ll stick around and watch a bit; 
But he paid no attention, hardly knowing I was there. 

He must have been a college guy, for he was talking big and high, -- 
The trees were standing all around as silent as a church -- 
A little closer I saw he was manufacturing poetry, 
Just like a Mocker sitting on a pussy-willow perch. 

I squatted down and rolled a smoke and listened to each word he spoke; 
He never stumbled, reared or broke; he never missed a word, 
And though he was a Bo like me, he’d been a gent once, I could see; 
I ain’t much strong on poetry, but this is what I heard: 

“We’ll dance a merry saraband from here to drowsy Samarcand. 
Along the sea, across the land, the birds are flying South, 
267, 297 
And you, my sweet Penelope, out there somewhere you wait for me, 
With buds of roses in your hair and kisses on your mouth. 

“The mountains are all hid in mist; the valley is like amethyst; 
The poplar leaves they turn and twist; oh, silver, silver green! 
Out there somewhere along the sea a ship is waiting patiently, 
While up the beach the bubbles slip with white afloat between. 

“The tide-hounds race far up the shore -- the hunt is on! The breakers roar, 
(Her spars are tipped with gold and o’er her deck the spray is flung); 
The buoys that rollic in the bay, they nod the way, they nod the way! 
The hunt is up! I am the prey! The hunter’s bow is strung!” 

“Out there somewhere, --” says I to me. “By Gosh! I guess that’s poetry! 
Out there somewhere - Penelope - with kisses on her mouth!” 
And then, thinks I, “O college guy, your talk it gets me in the eye, 
The North is creeping in the air; the birds are flying South.” 

266 And yet, the sun was shining down, a-blazing on the little town, 
A mile or so ‘way down the track a-dancing in the sun. 
But somehow, as I waited there, there came a shiver in the air; 
“The birds are flying South,” he says. “The winter has begun.” 

Says I, “Then let’s be on the float; you certainly have got my goat; 
You make me hungry in my throat for seeing things that’s new. 
Out ere somewhere we’ll ride the range a-looking for the new and strange; 
My feet are tired and need a change. Come on! It’s up to you! 

“There ain’t no sweet Penelope somewhere that’s longing much for me, 
But I can smell the blundering sea and hear the rigging hum; 
And I can hear the whispering lips that fly before the outbound ships;
And I can hear the breakers on the sand a-booming ‘Come!’” 

And then that slim, poetic guy, turned and looked me in the eye: 
“...It’s overland and overland and overseas to -- where?” 
“Most anywhere that isn’t here. " I says. His face went kind of queer: 
The place we're in is always here. The other place is there." 

He smiled, though, as my eye caught his. “Then what a lot of there there is 
To go and see and go and see and go and see some more.” 
He did a fancy step or two. Says he, “I think I’ll go with you --” 
... Two moons, and we were baking in the straits at Singapore. 

223 Around the world and back again; we saw it all. The mist and rain 
In England and the dry old plain from Needles to Berdoo. 
We kept a-rambling all the time. I rustled grub, he rustled rhyme -- 
Blind baggage, hoof it, ride or climb -- we always put it through. 

414 Just for a con I’d like to know (yes, he crossed over long ago; 
And he was right, believe me, Bo!) if somewhere in the South, 
Down where the clouds lie on the sea, he found his sweet Penelope, 
With buds of roses in her hair and kisses on her mouth. 

by Henry Herbert Knibbs 

The waves come walkin' up the sand; 
"Weep! Weep! and "Hush!" along the shore, 
Fretting' and teasin' at the land, 
And rollin' up the smooth brown floor, 
Frettin' and sayin' things galore. 

One night in June I left the ties 
And made a fire to boil some tea 
Down on the beach; a paradise, 
With nothin' round to bother me 
Except the talkin' of the sea. 

The stars were blinkin' big and still; 
The drift-wood fire was snappin' bright; 
The moon, back of me on the hill, 
Was flirtin' with the summer night, 
Just a-pertendin' to make light. 

I had the makings and I smoked 
and wondered over different things, 
Thinkin' as how this old world joked 
In callin' only some men kings 
While I sat there a-blowin' rings. 

Me? I was king of anywhere, 
Peggin' away at nothing, hard. 
Havin' no pet, paric'lar care; 
Havin' no trouble, or no pard; 
"Just me," filled up my callin' card. 

The waves come walkin' up the sand; 
"Weep! Weep! and "Hush!" along the shore; 
Fumin' and frettin' at the land, 
And rollin' something up the floor; 
Frettin' and sayin' things galore. 

Something -- The moon was growin' bright 
And cold and high and big and round -- 
Something that floated limp and white; 
Something I wish'd I hadn't found, 
A woman in the moonlight, drowned!

And then I saw that she was young; 
Was pretty-dressed and not long dead. 
Her hair was black and thick and hung 
Just like a cloth wound round her head. 
"Weep! Weep!" and "Hush!" the ocean said. 

No storm had lately been that June; 
There was no sign of wreck of boat, 
But shinin' in the rising moon 
I saw a locket on her throat, 
And in the locket was a note. 

The note I read close to the flame; 
--The fire with some fresh wood I fed -- 
Just one word, and below, a name; 
-- Close to the fire a-dancin' red -- 
One word, "Good-bye" the locket said. 

I thought I knew her story then, 
For she was pretty-like and sweet; 
"Good-bye" I stooped and read again, 
I crossed her hands and made her neat; 
Then shakin' I got on my feet. 

I might 'a' left her there for such 
As come and stare to see next day; 
But thinks I, I can do this much; 
I'll hide her from what folks will say, 
Guessin' at why she went away. 

I buried her there in the sand. 
"Good-bye" I said for her once more. 
I left the locket in her hand; 
The waves were sayin' things galore; 
"Weep! Weep!" and "Hush!" along the shore. 

---Henry Herbert Knibbs 

Henry H. Knibbs in the desert with 2 pack mules and a walking stick in cowboy garb
                                                                 ~ Connecticut State Archives

The Trail-Makers  by Henry Herbert Knibbs

 North  and west along the coast among the misty islands,
  Sullen in the grip of night and smiling in the day:
 Nunivak and Akutan, with Nome against the highlands,
  On we drove with plated prow agleam with frozen spray.

 Loud we sang adventuring and lustily we jested;
  Quarreled, fought, and then forgot the taunt, the blow, the jeers;
 Named a friend and clasped a hand—a compact sealed, attested;
  Shared tobacco, yarns, and drink, and planned surpassing years.

 Then—the snow that locked the trail where famine's shadow followed
  Out across the blinding white and through the stabbing cold,
 Past tents along the tundra over faces blotched and hollowed;
  Toothless mouths that babbled foolish songs of hidden gold.

 Wisdom, lacking sinews for the toil, gave over trying;
  Fools, with thews of iron, blundered on and won the fight;
 Weaklings drifted homeward; else they tarried—worse than dying—
  With the painted lips and wastrels on the edges of the night.

 Berries of the saskatoon were ripening and falling;
  Flowers decked the barren with its timber scant and low;
 All along the river-trail were many voices calling,
  And e'en the whimpering Malemutes they heard—and whined to go.

 Eyelids seared with fire and ice and frosted parka-edges;
  Firelight like a spray of blood on faces lean and brown;
 Shifting shadows of the pines across our loaded sledges,
  And far behind the fading trail, the lights and lures of town.

 So we played the bitter game nor asked for praise or pity:
  Wind and wolf they found the bones that blazed out lonely trails....
 Where a dozen shacks were set, to-day there blooms a city;
  Now where once was empty blue, there pass a thousand sails.

 Scarce a peak that does not mark the grave of those who perished
  Nameless, lost to lips of men who followed, gleaning fame
 From the soundless triumph of adventurers who cherished
  Naught above the glory of a chance to play the game.

 Half the toil—and we had won to wealth in other station;
  Rusted out as useless ere our worth was tried and known.
 But the Hand that made us caught us up and hewed a nation
  From the frozen fastness that so long was His alone.
      .      .      .      .      .      .
 Loud we sang adventuring and lustily we jested;
  Quarreled, fought, and then forgot the taunt, the blow, the jeers;
 Sinned and slaved and vanished—we, the giant-men who wrested
  Truth from out a dream wherein we planned surpassing years.


Cowboy Poet and Author
"... Forest enchanted, filled with magic dreams."     Henry Herbert Knibbs

Henry Herbert Knibbs 1874 - 1945 was born in Clifton (Niagara Falls), Ontario, Canada to affluent American parents. His biography record at Los Angeles Library states that his ancestors were Cornish tin miners, seamen and Long Island farmers.

He was encouraged to read the works of Longfellow, Lord Byron, Whittier, Tennyson, Edgar Allen Poe while developing a love for the fiddle and its music. His introduction to horses and livestock on his grandparents' farm in Pennsylvania stuck with him throughout his life.

He never graduated from college but attended Woodstock College at age 14, then Bishop Ridley College for three years and studied English at Harvard. He moved to California in 1901 where he wrote his first Novel, Lost Farm Camp. Most of Knibbs' novels are set in the West and in revolutionary Mexico.

Knibbs' poetry books include, First Poems, 1908 ~ Songs of the Outlands, Ballads of the Hoboes and Other Verse, 1914 ~ Riders of the Stars: A Book of Western Verse, 1916 ~ Songs of the Trail, 1920 ~ Saddle Songs and Other Verse, 1922 ~ and Songs of the Lost Frontier 1930. He also authored 13 western novels and a series of articles printed in the Saturday Evening Post, Red Cross Magazine, Current Opinion, West, Western Stories and Adventure.

Henry Herbert Knibbs was a scholar who aspired to be a Western writer and poet. There is no doubt that he put a great deal of  research and thought into his writing. He was not born into ranch life, but became a Western writer through his great efforts. As a result, he left a legacy of profound cowboy poetry for our pleasure.Knibbs spent his last few years as owner/operator of a violin shop in Banning, California. His self-biography, A Boy I Knew remains unpublished.

See the ERB Personal Library Project
Shelf K2

First Poems, 1908
Songs of the Outlands: Ballads of the Hoboes and Other Verse. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1914
The Ridin' Kid from Power River. Illustrated by R. M. Brinkerhoff. Grosset & Dunlap
Sundown Slim. Illustrated by Anton Fischer. Boston & New York, Houghton Mifflin Co. 1915 356p
    Christened Washington Hicks, the homely six-foot-four hobo-cook-cowboy-philosopher
    preferred to be called Sundown Slim.  As a frontier character he anticipates Will Rogers in this good yarn of
    humor, virtue rewarded, and cattle-sheep strife in a central Arizona setting.
Riders of the Stars: A Book of Western Verse. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1916.
Tang of Life. Illustrated by E. Boyd Smith. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1918.
Songs of the Trail. Illustrated by Harold Cue. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1920.
Partners of chance. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1921. 231 p.
Partners of chance. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921. 231 p. NMSU
Partners of chance. London: Hutchinson, 1921? 286 p.
Saddle Songs and Other Verse. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1922.
Songs of the Lost Frontier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1930.
The Tonto kid. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1936. 269 p.
The Tonto kid. New York: Bantam, 1946. 218 p.
Cowboy Poetry Classic Rhymes by HHK. Cowboy Miner Productions, 1999. 208 p.


Jim Waring of Sonora-Town or Tang of Life
Online eText Edition in ERBzine:

Bill Hillman's ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. Online Encyclopedia
C.H.A.S.E.R. Presents THE MUCKER
C.H.A.S.E.R. Presents THE OAKDALE AFFAIR ("Bridge and the Oskaloosa Kid)
CLASSIC READER: ERB Bio ~ Photo ~ 22 PD Titles
PINK MONKEY.COM DIGITAL LIBRARY: PDF Version plus 1,800 Classics
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE SELF: Hypertext Meanings and Commentaries
with ERB biography, portrait, pictures, lesson plans and 28 online books
PROJECT GUTENBERG: Original Site with 26 titles
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Alternate Site for Project Gutenberg with 25 titles
Jerry Schneider's ERBVILLE: Home of ERB PD Titles in PDF
Mucker soon to appear in pulp and hardcover versions

Henry Herbert Knibbs was born to American parents on October 24, 1874, in Clifton, Ontario (later known as Niagara Falls). He became fascinated by the fiddle and learned to play at an early age. He suffered from a respiratory ailment for most of his life. Knibbs never worked as a cowboy, but he wrote western short stories, novels and poems. His father, George Knibbs, was a bank clerk at Pierce, Howard and Co., Bankers in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Eventually the company failed, casting the family into hard times. Knibbs spent summer vacations at his grandparents' farm in Pennsylvania. On the farm, he developed a love of horses nearly as great as that for his fiddle. Though he never earned a college degree, Knibbs attended Woodstock College and Bishop Ridley College in Ontario and studied English at Harvard. Leaving college, he spent two years hoboing in the American Midwest.

In 1899, he married Ida Julia Pfeifer and went to work for the railroad in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1910, he moved to California and wrote his first Western novel, Lost Farm Camp. He then left on a long trip through New Mexico, Arizona and California to soak up local color for his writing. In 1929, Knibbs left his wife to live with Turbesé Lummis Fiske. Ida refused to grant him a divorce and wrote him daily begging him to return home. Turbesé, whose father, Charles Lummis, was a Western writer, influenced and edited much of his later work.

Knibbs wrote 13 novels and six books of poems. His novels are out of print and largely forgotten, but his poetry remains popular in cowboy poet circles. Among his best remembered poems are Boomer Johnson and When the Ponies Come to Drink. Seven films made between 1919 and 1930 were based on his stories and novels. Knibbs career as a Western write came to a sudden halt when he mistakenly gave the period of a mare's gestation as nine months in a story published in the Saturday Evening Post. He was crucified by his peers for the mistake. He certainly knew that the correct period was 11 months, but this slip of the pen cost him his writing career, as he was never able to get another piece published. He died in San Diego, California, on May 17, 1945, from respiratory illness.

~ Ref: IMDB

Cowboy Poetry Classic Rhymes by Henry Herbert Knibbs
Janice M. Coggin (Editor), H. Mason Coggin (Editor)
List Price: $19.95 ~ Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Cowboy Miner Productions; ISBN: 0966209117; (July 1, 1999)

Henry Herbert Knibbs was a scholar who aspired to be a Western writer and poet. There is no doubt that he put more research and thought into his writing than either Kiskaddon or Barker. He was not born into ranch life, but became a western writer through his great efforts. As a result he left a legacy of profound cowboy poetry for our pleasure. 

Verse from the Heart of the West
edited by Paddy Calistro, Jack Lamb and Jean Penn; foreword by Waddie Mitchell

Now in paperback, COWBOY LOVE POETRY, a rare anthology of more than seventy love poems, is written by America's real hero, the cowboy. Read the tender words of classic Western balladeers such as Henry Herbert Knibbs, Frank Desprez, S. Omar Barker, Badger Clark, Belle Starr, Waddie Mitchell, Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Real Bird, J.B. Allen, Laurie Wagner Buyer and many more.

A staple at venues from the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum to Rizzoli Book Stores, this handsome volume has become an American folk collectible, the only cowboy poetry anthology devoted entirely to romance on the range.

Read H. H. Knibbs in ERBzine
A Novel and Poetry by One of ERB's Favourite Authors:
Henry Herbert Knibbs
Section I: 80 Pages
Section II: 85 Pages
Section III: 74 Pages
Unformatted Text Version I
Unformatted Text Version II
Unformatted Text Version III
Billy Byrde Schmucker's Appearance in the Ratnaz Files
(ERB Parody ~ 17-page excerpt)

Guide to the Henry Herbert Knibbs Papers , 1874-1945
Department of Special Collections and University Archives Stanford University Libraries
Scope and Content of Archive Containers: Highlights

Correspondence, documents, photographs and sketches, newspaper clippings, tearsheets, and Knibbs' death mask.
The areas covered include works by Henry Knibbs, including novels, short stories and poetry;
biographical data on Knibbs; and works by other authors.

Continued in ERBzine 0951

ERBapa 36

Volume 0950

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