|Benjamin Franklin King
Ben King was born on March 17, 1857 in St. Joseph, Michigan. He married Aseneth Belle Latham, of St. Joseph, on November 27, 1883, in Chicago, and had two sons. King belonged to the Chicago Press Club and to the Whitechapel Club, which attracted authors and journalist. He published verse in newspapers and journals like The Century, sometimes under the pseudonym Bow Hackley. He died on tour, April 8, 1894, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, after a public reading the previous night, and two days later was buried in St. Joseph. It was friends from the Press Club who published Ben King's Verse in 1894, a collection reprinted many times, because King's work was popular.
If I Should DieIf I should die to-night
And you should come to my cold corpse and say,
Weeping and heartsick o'er my lifeless clay --
If I should die to-night,
And you should come in deepest grief and woe --
And say: "Here's that ten dollars that I owe,"
I might arise in my large white cravat
And say, "What's that?"
If I should die to-night
And you should come to my cold corpse and kneel,
Clasping my bier to show the grief you feel,
I say, if I should die to-night
And you should come to me, and there and then
Just even hint 'bout payin' me that ten,
I might arise the while,
But I'd drop dead again.
Note: See Percy French's adaptation of this poem.