Mark Twain in the Sandwich Islands

Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors.  In his storytelling he perfectly balances hyperbole and abrupt honesty in a way that makes me laugh out loud! I love his vivid descriptions that create places I recognize and many that I’d love to see someday. He visited Hawaii in 1866, and through his writing he shared our unique culture and beauty with readers around the globe. When I read this passage, I knew I had to attempt to paint it.

He wrote:

“The ocean: a brilliant, transparent green near the shore, bound and bordered by a long white line of foamy spray dashing against the reef, and further out the dead blue water of the deep sea, flecked with “white caps,” and in the far horizon a single, lonely sail – a mere accent-mark to emphasize a slumberous calm and a solitude that were without sound or limit.”  Mark Twain, Roughing It


This, too, puts a beautiful picture in my mind:

“For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surf is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud-rack; I can feel the spirit of its woody solitudes, I hear the plashing of the brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.” – Mark Twain, a Biography

Maybe for my next painting!

Mark Twain’s Ocean is available at my Etsy Shop.


12 thoughts on “Mark Twain in the Sandwich Islands

  1. I haven’t heard Hawaii called the sandwich islands since I was a kid when my uncle told me that he had done our ancestry and discovered that Capt. Cook was a great, great, great, great grandfather of mine. My uncle always had wild stories that I could never confirm, but I always remembered that term, “The Sandwich Islands”. “Did they have sandwiches back then” I used to say to myself. And why would they call them that anyway? Reading Mark Twain’s descriptions of Hawaii I’d much rather he had nicknamed Hawaii than whomever called them the Sandwich Islands so long ago.

    • Ah…so you come by your need to explore honestly 😉
      Yes, Twain had a beautiful way of describing things. I love the last line above: “in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.” Maybe the “Breath of Perished Flowers Isles” would have painted a prettier picture. A different one, anyway! LOL

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