Yawps is a collection of whimsical, satirical and lampoonish poems, all written by William James Lampton towards the end of the 19th century. This was Lampton's first published book and vaulted him into prominence in the New York literary world. There are 65 poems on a wide variety of subjects from political to military to every-day life. William J. Lampton was a first cousin to Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) and was one of the most unique and interesting characters of literary and Bohemian New York from about 1895 to his death in 1917.
William James Lampton (c1850-1917) William James Lampton was born in the early 1850s in Clark County, Kentucky, and died May 30, 1917. He is buried in the Winchester Cemetery in Clark County. Lampton's father was a brother of Jane Lampton, the mother of Samuel L. Clemens, who is better known as Mark Twain. Early in life, Wm. Lampton worked as a book-keeper in St. Louis before embarking on his career in the newspaper business. He sought advice in a letter to Samuel Clemens in 1875 on how to get into the newspaper business. Clemens advised him to serve an apprentice-ship for nothing & when worth wages he would get them. He eventually made it into the New York newspaper world. William Lampton was one of the most unique and interesting characters of literary and Bohemian New York from about 1895 to his death in 1917. He had achieved his dream of being a 'newspaper man' and became re-cognized as a celebrated New York journalist and poet. He had a lack of conventionality and a whimsical originality that stood out no less forcibly in his writings than in his daily life. He had little use for doing the usual thing in the usual sort of way. Much of his poetry could be described as satirical or even as lampoon-ing. He first gained prominence with his book of verse, YAWPS, this was followed by many more books as well as many individually published poems and short stories. His poems were free from convention in technique as well as in spirit, although their chief innovation was simply that as a rule there was no regular number of syllables in a line; he let the lines be any length they wanted to be, to fit the verse or the length of what he had to say. Although familiarly known as Colonel Lampton, and although of Kentucky, he was not merely a Kentucky Colonel for he was actually appointed Colonel on the staff of the governor of Kentucky. At the time of his death he was about to be made a brigadier-general and was planning to raise a brigade of Kentucky mountaineers for service in the Great War. As he had just struck his stride in short story writing, the loss to literature was even greater than the patriotic loss. Biography by: Robert G. Yorks