Oddities and Eccentricities from Garrett Scott
One obscure poet who came within inches of greatness was Bloodgood Cutter, aka "the Long Island Farmer, or "the Poet Lariat." He came close when he happened to take an ocean voyage on the same ship as the great writer Mark Twain. Twain wasn't much better known than Cutter at the time, though the latter would memorialize Twain in verse:
"One droll person there was on board,
The passengers called him Mark Twain.
He'd talk and write all sort of stuff,
In his queer way it explain."
Cutter would write reams of material like this, which is why you don't know him. However, he would in turn be memorialized by Twain in his account of this journey, "Innocents Abroad." Twain would dub Cutter the "Poet Lariat." That moniker would later be used for various "cowboy poets," but I think Twain used it with Cutter for his habit of lassoing people into listening to his poetry. Twain, describing Cutter, would write, "He writes them [rhymes] on all possible subjects and gets them printed on slips of paper with his portrait at the head. These he will give to any man that comes along, whether he has anything against him or not. He has already written interminable poems on ‘The Good Ship Quaker City' and an ‘Ode to the Ocean' and ‘Recollections of the Pleasant Time on Deck Last Night,' which pleasant time consisting in his reciting some 75 stanzas of his poetry to a large party of passengers convened on the upper deck." Here is your chance for a pleasant time too. Item 38 is one of those handbills Twain describes, Long Island Farmer on Planting Flowers in his Wife's Burial Lot - April 1882. Priced at $50. However, if you want a complete collection of his works, there is The Long Island Farmer's Poems. Lines Written on the "Quaker City" Excursion to Palestine, and Other Poems, by Bloodgood H. Cutter. Mark Twain's "Larriat" [sic] in "Innocents Abroad." "We're on the Atlantic Ocean, And I feel a strange commotion." Item 39. $225.
Col. William Rowe was another underappreciated poet. In his 1908 Verse and Toast, he covers subjects from Abe Lincoln to local (Albany, N.Y.) dignitaries, plus 22 poems about different banks. For example, for the Empire Trust he writes, "There's a lot of directors for one to admire / In the trust Company, known as Empire." You can read the other 21 for a mere $37.50. Item 111.