The Twins: A Poem

Today while at work, I came across a book of old poems. Scanning the index, I found one entitled, The Twins. I loved it! The timing of my discovery was ironic as lately I’ve been thinking about how I’d like to include some interviews or reviews of twin-based fiction here on my blog. The reason? There’s so much out there these days for parents of twins (including my own books) but very little focusing on what it’s like being a twin. I want to delve into the twin experience a bit more, to learn about life from their point of view and to gain some insight. Perhaps stories (or even poems) about twins can give us parents a better understanding of our multiples just a bit better.

Anyway, back to this poem. It’s written by 19th century playwright and poet, Henry Sambrooke Leigh. As far as I can tell, he wasn’t a twin yet he seemed to nail the frustration many twins feel for constantly being confused for the other.

Read The Twins to your own twins—I’d be curious of their reactions (please post them here). My twins especially enjoyed the wickedly ironic ending.

The Twins
by Henry S. Leigh (1837 – 1883)

In form and feature, face and limb,
I grew so like my brother,
That folks got taking me for him,
And each for one another.
It puzzled all our kith and kin,
It reached an awful pitch;
For one of us was born a twin,
Yet not a soul knew which.

One day (to make the matter worse),
Before our names were fixed,
As we were being washed by nurse
We got completely mixed;
And thus, you see, by Fate’s decree,
(Or rather nurse’s whim),
My brother John got christened me,
And I got christened him.

This fatal likeness even dogged
My footsteps when at school,
And I was always getting flogged,
For John turned out a fool.
I put this question hopelessly
to everyone I knew—
What would you do, if you were me,
To prove that you were you?

Our close resemblance turned the tide
Of my domestic life;
For somehow my intended bride
Became my brother’s wife.
In short, year after year the same
Absurd mistakes went on;
And when I died—the neighbors came
And buried brother John!

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