Tuesday, September 20, 2005

War Poetry of the South


Project Gutenberg has just released this 1866 collection of poems "highly
creditable to the Southern mind" though I don't think many of us today will
agree with that assessment. Take this:

Gentlemen of the South,
Gird on your glittering swords!
Darkly along our borders fair
Gather the Northern hordes.
Ruthless and fierce they come
At the fiery cannon's mouth,
To blast the glory of our land,
Gentlemen of the South!

or from "The Confederacy":

Born in a day, full-grown, our Nation stood,
The pearly light of heaven was on her face;
Life's early joy was coursing in her blood;
A thing she was of beauty and of grace.

Still, where else will you find a versified report on parliamentary debate
on "England's Neutrality"
(http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8wrpm10h.htm#77), an apparent
defense of the Ft. Pillow massacre
(http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8wrpm10h.htm#87) and an
almost-free-verse tribute to "The Cotton Boll"

The editor William Gilmore Simms was a famous-in-his-day Southern poet and
novelist who's had a small resurgence of interest recently (Univ of South
Carolina Press published a study earlier this year and several of his books
have been reissued recently). His LL.D was honorary from Univ of Alabama.