Strickland Gillilan

It was a slow news day at the Palladium… so a Palladium reporter wrote a poem that launched him into national prominence.

Strickland Gillilan, a humorist best known for his ‘Off Agin, On Agin, Gone Agin, Finnigan’ poem, was a reporter for the Palladium at the turn of the 19th Century.

One slow news day he wrote a poem for the paper that launched his career.

The poem was about a fictional railroader, criticized for his long reports about train wrecks. After a particular derailment - when Finnigan’s train was put back on tracks and sent on - the contrary Irishman sent his superiors a brief message:‘Off agin, On Agin, Gone Agin, Finnigan!’

The poem was published in the Palladium in February, 1897 and met with such success that Gillilan did a slight revision and sent it to Life Magazine. It saw print on March 13th and propelled him to national acclaim.

For the rest of his life the self-professed ‘raconteur’ capitalized on the Richmond experiences that launched him.

He also wrote the word’s shortest poem, and one of the most anthologized Mother’s Day poems of all time, which he would read to children.


 

 


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June 19, 2012