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Southern poets / J.T.C. Noe. Noe, James Thomas Cotton, 1864-1953 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-238-31299632 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Southern poets / J.T.C. Noe. Noe, James Thomas Cotton, 1864-1953 s.n., [S.l. : 19--] 34 p. : 23 cm. Coleman Caption title. Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04813.02 KUK) Printing Master B92-238. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. American poetry Southern States. SOUTHERN POETS J. T. C. NOE, Lirr. D. Professor of Education University of Kentucky - I I I i I i I This page in the original text is blank. SOUTHERN POETS J. T. C. Noe. Every age produces hundreds of poets and would-be poets who write rhyme and verse with more or less facility and grace. sit no man may hope to win a permanent place in poetical literature who does not produce one or more poems of unusual power and originality. Few names are better known to lovers of poetry than that of Thomas Gray, but not one out of a hun- dred who know a large part of The Elegy by heart can name another poem by Gray or quote a line from him not taken from The EletJ. William Cullen Bryant is known almost exeuluively by Thanatopsis and the Lines to a Waterfowl. The fame of Holmes is limited to The Vhambeved Naurlhis. TLe Last Leaf, The One Hoss Shay, and TAh Boys: And yet he wrote a con- siderable volume of verse. About all that eaten sehool people know of Lowell is his Sir Lci Afal anti his Ceuirftn . Longfellow is the most popular American poet, with the excepti3n of Riley, and though more than a dozen ef his poems are well known, his fame as a poet rests upon three or four. Poe was fortunate be- cause of his limitations and the small number of poems he pro- duced. There are more than a hundred writers of verse listed in the Library of Soitthern Literutitre. Much of the work of these southern singers ranks shell with the bulk of poetry produced by the New EndIand writers, with the exception of their out- standing poems. But if we except Poe from consideration as a southern poet. no name except that of Sidney Lanier ranks with the New England group. Lanier was a true genius and next to Poe the greatest master of musical verse in American, if not all literature, Tennyson. alone, it seems to me, ranking with these two American singers in sheer beauty of musical rhythm. But when I say that Lanier is the only southern poet but Poe who could be regarded as of first rank in American poetry, I do not mean that the South has not produced good verse. Every 2 southerner is a singer, and it is an easy matter to mention twenty or thirty whose work is a delight to the ear and heart. The name of Danske Dandridge, I dare say, is unknown to most read- ers of verse, and yet much of her poetry is of surpassing beauty. A few lines taken at random from her pages will justify this statement. Note the lilt, the grace and delicacy of these lines: It was a spot by man untrod, Just where I think is only known to God. The spirit, for a while, Becavee of beauty freshly made Could only smile; Then grew the smiling to a song, And as he sarg he played Elton a moont ear-mwired cithole Shaped like a soul. There was no ear Of far or near, Save ore sn all sparrow of the wood, That song to hear. This, in a bosky tree, Heard all, and understood- As much as a small sparrow could By sympathy. 'Twas a fair sight That morn of Spring, When on the lonely height, The spirit paused to sing, Then through the air took flight, Still lilting on the wing. And the shy bird, Who all had heard, Straightway began To practice o'er the lovely strain; Again, again; Though indistinct and blurred, He tried each word, Until he caught the last far sounds that fell Like the faint tinkles of a fairy bell. Who ever put more fire and energy into a heroic lyric than John Reuben Thompson breathed into his Ashby If his stirring ballad, The Death of Stuart, sent that bold southern knight riding down the years, as Mrs. Preston said, his lines on Ashby make the light of dying day linger longer around that hero's grave, the showers of summer fall softly and even the gloom seems gay. To the brave all homage render, Weep, ye skies of June! With a radiance, pure and tender, Shine, 0 saddened moon! "Dead upon the field of glory," Hero fit for song or story, Lies our bold dragoon. Well they learned whose hands have slain him, Braver, knightlier foe Never fought with Moor or Paynim, Rode at Templestowe; WVt't a rn-.r V-w. hf h a nd joyous, 'Gainst the hordes that would destroy us Went he forth we know. There throughout the coming ages When his sword is rust, And his deeds in classic pages Mindful of her trust, Shall Virginia, bending lowly, Still a ceaseless vigil holy Keep above his dust. It seems that only poets ever truly understand poets. And unfortunately jealousies and envy often blind the eyes and close the hearts of poets to the beautyf and power of their brothers' work. But Waitman Barbe understood Sidney Lanier, though born after the heroic struggle lwas over with Lanier. He knew that Life shall ever walk out upon the slipping sands because of Lanier. Thy life was hedged about by ill As pitiless as any northern night; Yet thou didst make it as thy "Sunrise" bright. The seas were not too deep for thee; thine eye Was comrade with the farthest star on high. 4 The marsh burst into bloom for thee And still abloom shall ever be! Its sluggish tide shall henceforth bear alway A charm it did not hold until thy day. Another of the young soutlhern poets whose work is but fairly begun is Stark Young. His music, his power of inducing atmosphere and casting the spell of romance and superstition over his readers. mal be seen in a few lines from Gordia. The nightbird crieth a long wall, 'Tis a ghostly hour, the stars are pale, The horned moon drifts down the west, The spectre day hath stirred, and soon The sea-meews chatter in the nest. Why goeth Prosper on the sands Lo! phantom mists are on the plain, Cold the wind comes from off the main. Out in the melancholy stars The ghosts of dear lost things must come And many, many a weary day Prosper hath his wont to roam. 'Tis follow, follow, ah, welaway! Tarry, young Prosper, and go pray; Light thy taper and tell thy beads, Criste's moder hath ear for lovers' needs. I wish it were possible in this brief address to speak at leng-th of the work of the two sonthern priest-poets. Father Ryan and Father Tahb. Fath.er Roan is fne 'f the best known singers of the south. He did not possess great originality, but he was master of music and rhvme. He has few if any magic phrases and none of the felicitous lines of Madison Cawein. But he had fire and patriotism and deep religious fervor and faith that go home to the heart. A stanza of the Conquered Banner is all the space I can spare him here. Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary; Round Its staff 'tis drooping dreary; Furl It, fold it, It is best; For there's not a man to wave It, And there's not a sword to save it, And there's not one left to lave it In the blood which heroes gave It; And its foes now scorn and brave it; Furl It, hide it-let it rest! 5 Father Tabb like Robert Loveman has given the world his message in short swallow flights of song that rarely go beyond a dozen lines and more often express a brief but throbbing thought in a single quatrain. His voice is like the snowbirds- a never frozen rill. Since that the dewdrop holds the star The long night through, Perchance the satellite afar Reflects the dew. And while thine image in my heart Doth ste-,idfast shine; There haply, in thy heaven apart Thou keepest mine. Out of the dusk a shadow, Then, a spark; Out of the cloud a silence, Then, a lark; Out of the heart a rapture, Then, a pain; Out of the dead, cold ashes, Life again. How many an acorn falls to die For one that makes a tree! How many a heart must pass me by For one that cleaves to me! How many a suppliant wave of sound Must still unheeded roll, For one low utterance that found An echo in my soul! The name of Robert Loveman is not found in any of the anthologies of southern literature that I have seen, but I have spent many a happy hour with his vuatrains, his rondeaus and rondels. Many of his lines are mere conceits but always they are brilliant. 6 NIAGARA. Some vast despair, some grief divine, Doth vigil keep Forever here; before this shrine The waters weep. Methinks a God from some far sphere, In sportive part, In ages past wooed Nature here, And broke her heart. .MY JOSEPHINE. There was a France, there was queen, There was another Josephine, Whoge gentle love and tender art Subdued Napoleon's soldier heart. But she of France was ne'er, I ween, Fairer than thou, my Josephine; To storm thy heart I'll boldly plan, God! if I were the Corsican! TO LONDON TOWN. To London town Will Shakespeare went, Ambitious, eager, and intent, To one vast end his being bent, To London town. He hugged his precious manuscript Close to his heart, his fancy tripped All feather-footed through the day. And she-poor, lone Ann Hathaway- Taught Judith, Hamlet, how to pray For him-her lord, away, away To London town. And may I say of this southern poet so little known but so well beloved by those who know him that He knew Will Shakespeare's human heart And felt his God-like brain, And sang his soul a kindred part In rondeau and quatrain. 7 Margaret Junkin Preston was born in Pennsylvania, but married a Virginia professor who became a colonel in the Con- federate army. She was the greatest woman poet of the south, and it has been said of her, of all America. Her pen was a force in arousing and inspiring the knights of the Confederacy. The Shade of the Trees is one of her best knownIi poems celebrating the last hours of Stonewall Jackson and his final words to his soldiers. A few lines from the Color-bearer will give us an idea of her poetic passion and inspiration. The shock of battle swept the lines, And wounded men and slain Lay thick as lie in summer fields The ridgy swathes of grain. The deadly phalanx belched its fire, The raking cannon pealed, The lightning-flash of bayonets Went glittering round the field. On rushed the steady Twenty-fourth Against the bristling guns, As if their gleams could daunt no more Than that October sun's. It mattered not though heads went down, Though gallant steps were stayed, Though rifles dropped from bleeding hands, And ghastly gaps were made "Olose up!" was still the stern command, And with unwavering tread, They held right on, though well they knew They tracked their way with dead. As fast they pressed with laboring breath, Clinched teeth and knitted frown, The sharp, arrestive cry rang out- "The color-hearer's down!" Quick to the front springs, at the word, The youngest of the band, And caught the flag still tightly held Within the fallen hand. With cheer he reared it high again, Yet claimed one instant's pause To lift the dying head and see What comrade's face it was. 8 "Forward!" the captain shouted loud, Still "Forward!"-and the men Snatched madly up the shrill command, And shrieked it out again. But like a statue stood the boy, Without a foot's advance, Until the captain shook his arm, And roused him from his trance. His home had flashed upon his sight, The peaceful, sunny spot! He did not hear the crashing shells, Nor heed the hissing shot. And when the stubborn fight was done, And from the fast-held field The order'd remnant slow retired, Too resolute to yield- They found a boy whose face still wore A look resolved and grand, Who held a riddled flag close clutched Within his shattered hand. It is beyond the limitations of this paper to consider the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe. He was born in Boston and grew up in Virginia, but his poetry is not indigenous to southern soil. Indeed his poc.r-,- Lelongs to no time arnd no country. The music and atmosphere of his verse wvere induced by moods common to all people and every age. And though his poetry is not of the popular type, it is probably the most universal literary note that has ever been sounded. His poems have no definite meaning but like wierd music they sing themselves into our senses with an irresistible po-wer. I' xxe Jisregrd Poe in the discussion of southern poets, Henry Timrod next to Lanier, is the most original and natural poet of the south. Lanier re- sembles Poe more than any one else in American or English poetry in his mastery of rhyme and haunting iteration, his musi- cal technique; and he is all but as individual and original as Poe. But his art is sometimes conscious and apparently less spontaneous than that of Poe. Timrod on the other hand is always spontaneous but less musical than Lanier. There is no strain in the verse of Timrod, no affectation. In this respect he 9 is far superior to his brother poets of the south who for the most part are not strikingly original either in form or substance. Timrod did not originate new forms in poetry but lie did put new wine into old bottles, wine too of unusual sparkle and flavor. The life of Henry Timrod, like that of Sidney Lanier, was an inspiring. heroic struggle with poverty and disease. He and Paul Hamilton Hayne were born in thle old city of Charles- ton and were seat mates in school. They grew up together and after the death of Timrod his brother poet wrote a beautiful memoir of his friend, which was published in the first collected edition of Timrod's poems. Timrod's early life was a struggle with poverty, but Paul Hamilton Hayne's family was rich and he grew up in a palatial home. When Sherman drove the jug- gernaut of destruction through Charleston to the sea, the palace and the humble cottage of the two poets went down together. Hayne retired to an obscure spot which he named Copse Hill, just outside of Augusta, Georgia, and spent the rest of his life keeping the wolf from the door with his pen. How well he did his work as the consort of the muse may be inferred from his dream of the south winds. 0 fresh, how fresh and fair Through the crystal gulfs of air, The fairy South Wind floateth on her subtle wings of balm! And the green earth lapped in bliss, To the magic of her kiss Seems yearning upward fondly through the golden-crested calm! From the distant Tropic strand, Where the billows, bright and bland, Go creeping, curling round the palms, faint undertune, From its fields of purpling flowers Still wet with fragrant showers, The happy south wind linge ing sweeps the roval blooms of June. All heavenly fancies rise On the perfume of her sighs, Which steep the inmost spirit in a languor rare and fine, And a peace more plure than sleep's, Unto dim half conscious deeps, Transports me, lolled and dreaming, on its twilight tides divine. 10 Those dreams! ah mo! the splendor, So mystical and tender, Wherewith like soft heat lightenings they gird their meaning round, And those waters calling, calling, With a nameless charm enthralling, Like the ghost of music melting on a rainbow spray of sound! Alas! dim, dim, and dimmer Grows the preternatural glimmer Of that trance the South Wind brought me on her subtle wings of balm, For behold its spirit flieth, And its fairy murmur dieth, And the silence closing round me is a dull and soulless calm. Timrod's fight with disease augmented by poverty, was heroic to the end, but he succumbed at the age of thirty-seven. His genius cannot, therefore, be judged by his performance, for his vitalitv was so reduced in the last years of his life by ravages of disease and want that he was unable to live up to his earlier promises in the character of work turned out. It is re- markable that there is no bitterness in all of Timrod's poetry, only joyousness and hope. His Spring is one of the best poems ever done on that hackneyed theme. Its individuality, fresh- ness and originality are quite as remarkable as is spring itself. A few stanzas of this poem will evidence the truth of my obser- vation. Spring with that nameless pathos in the air Which dwells with all things fair, Spring, with her golden suns and silver rain, Is with us again. Out in the lonely -woods the jasmine burns Its fragrant lamps, and turns Into a royal court with green festoons The banks of dark lagoons. In the deep heart of every forest tree The blood is all aglee, And there's a look about the leafless bowers As if they dreamed of flowers. Yet still on every side we trace the hand Of winter in the land, Save where the maple reddens on the lawn, Flushed by the season's dawn; 11 Or where, like those strange semblances we find That age to childhood bind, The elm puts on, as if in Nature's scorn, The brown of Autumn corn. As yet the turf Is dark, although you know That, not a span below, A thousand germs are groping through the gloom, And soon will burst their tomb. His heart was with his beloved south, but not with war. Ah! who would couple thoughts of war and crime With such a blessed time! Who in the west wind's aromatic breath Could hear the call of death Oh! standing on this desecrated mould, Methinks that I behold, Lifting her bloody daisies up to God, Spring kneeling on the sod, And calling, with the voice of all her rills, Upon the ancient hills To fall and crush the tyrants and the slaves Who turn her meads to graves. Timrod's poetic creed is found in his longest poem, A Vision of Poesy: Once, on a cold and loud-voiced winter night, The three were seated by their cottage fire The mother watching by its flickering light The wakeful urchin, and the dozing sire; There was a brief, quick motion like a bird's, And the boy's thought thus rippled into words: "O mother! thou hast taught me many things, But none I think more beautiful than speech- A nobler power than even those broad wings I used to pray for, when I longed to reach That distant peak which on our vale looks down, And wears the star cf evening for a crown. "But, mother, while our human words are rife To us with meaning. other sounds there be Which seem, and are, the language of a life Around, yet unlike ours: winds talk; the sea Murmurs articulately, and the sky Listens, and answers, though inaudibly. 12 "By stream and spring, in glades and woodlands lone, Beside our very cot I've gathered flowers Inscribed with signs and characters unknown; But the frail scrolls still baffle all my powers: What is this language and where is the key That opes its weird and wondrous mystery "The forests know it, and the mountains know And it Is written in the sunset's dyes; A revelation to the world below Is daily going on before our eyes; And, but for sinful thoughts, I do not doubt That we could spell the thrilling secret out. "O mother! somewhere on this lovely earth I lived, and understood that mystic tongue, But, for some reason, to my second birth Only the dullest memories have clung, Like that fair tree that even while blossoming Keeps the dead berries of a former spring. "Who shall put life in these-my nightly dreams Some teacher of supernal powers foretell; A fair and stately shape appears, which seems Bright with all truth; and once, in a dark dell Within the forest, unto me there came A voice that must be hers, which called my name." Timrod felt a responsibility in his art. "The poet owes a high and holy debt, Which, if he feel, he craves not to be heard For the poor boon of praise, or place, nor yet Does the mere joy of song, as with the bird Of many voices, prompt the choral lay That cheers that gentle pilgrim on his way. "Nor may he always sweep the passionate lyre, Which Is his heart, only for such relief As an impatient spirit may desire, Lest, from the grave which hides a private grief, The spells of song call up some pallid wraith To blast or ban a moral hope or faith. "Yet over his deep soul, with all its crowd Of varying hopes and fears, he still must brood; As from its azure height a tranquil cloud Watches Its own bright changes in the flood; Self-reading, not self-loving-they are twain- And sounding, while he imourns, the depths of pain 13 "Thus shall his songs attain the common breast, Dyed in his own life's blood, the sign and seal, Even as the thorns which are the martyr's crest, That do attest his office, and appeal Unto the universal human heart In sanction of his mission and his art. "Much yet remains unsaid-pure must he be; Oh. blessed are the pure! for they shall hear Where others hear not, see where others see With a dazed vision: who have drawn most near My shrine, have ever brought a spirit cased And mailed in a body clean and chaste. "The poet to the whole wide world belongs, Even as the teacher is the child's I said No selfish aim should ever mar his songs, But self wears many guises; men may wed Self in another, and the soul may be Self to its centre, all unconsciously. "And therefore must the Poet watch, lest he, In the dark struggle of this life, should take Sta n' vwhich he mlT.t not notice; he must flee Falsehood, however winsome, and forsake All for the Truth, assured that Truth alone Is beauty, and can make him all his own. "And he must be as armed warrior strong, And he must be as gentle as a girl, And he must front, and sometimes suffer wrong, With brow unbent, and lip untaught to curl; For wrath, and scorn, and pride, however just, Fill the clear spirit's eyes with earthly dust." The Cotton Boll has been higly- praisedl by critics. It con- tains some of the finest descriptive lines to be found in all the range of American poetry. Yonmle or(1. Which floats, as if at rest, In tCice oclue tracts above the thunder, where No vapors cloud the stainless air, And never sound is heard. Unless at such rare time When, from the City of the Blest, Rings down some golden chime, Sees not from his high place 14 So vast a ctrque of summer space As widens round me in one mighty field, Which, rimmed by seas and sands, Doth hail its earliest daylight in the beams Of gray Atlantic dawns; And, broad as realms made up of many lands, Is lost afar Behind the crimson hills and purple lawns Of sunset, among plains which roll their streams Against the Evening Star! And lo! To the remotest point of sight, Although I gaze upon no waste of snow, The endless field is white; And the whole landscape glows, For many a shining league away, With such accumulated light As polar lands would flash beneath a tropic day! But these are charms already widely blown! His be the meed whose pencil's trace Hath touched our very swamps with grace, And round whose tuneful way All Southern laurels bloom; The Poet of "The Woodlands," unto whom Alike are known The flute's low breathing and the trumpet's tone, And the soft west wind's sighs; But who shall utter all the debt, o land wherein all powers are met That bind a people's heart, The world doth owe thee at this day, And which it never can repay, Yet scarcely deigns to own! Where sleeps the poet who shall fitly sing The source wherefrom doth spring That mighty commerce which, confined To the mean channels of no selfish mart, Goes out to every shore Of this broad earth, and throngs the sea with ships That bear no thunders; hushes hungry lips In alien lands; Joins with a delicate web remotest strands; And gladdening rich and poor, Doth gild Parisian domes, Or feed the cottage-smoke of English homes, And only bounds its blessings by mankind: 15 In offices like these, thy mission lies, My Country! and It shall not end As long as rain shall fall and Heaven bend In blue above thee; though thy foes be hard And cruel as their weapons, it shall guard Thy hearth-stones as a bulwark; make thee great In white and bloodless state; And haply, as the years increase- Still working through its humbler reach With that large wisdom which the ages teach- Revive the half-dead dream of universal peace! His patriotism and faith in his country are revealed in his Ethizogenesis. Hath not the morning dawned with added light And shall not evening call another star Out of the infinite regions of the night, To mark this day in Heaven At last, we are A nation among nations; and the world Shall soon behold in many a distant port Another flag unfurled! Now, come what may, whose favor need we court And, under God, whose thunder need we fear Thank Him who placed us here Beneath so kind a sky-the very sun Takes part with us; and on our errands run All breezes of the ocean; dew and rain Do noiseless battle for us; and the year. And all the gentle daughters in her train, March in our ranks, and in our service wield Long spears of golden grain! A yellow blossom as her fairy shield, June flings her azure banner to the wind, While in the order of their birth Her sisters pass, and many an ample field Grows white beneath their steps, till now, behold, Its endless sheets unfold The snow of Southern Summers! Let the earth Rejoice! beneath those fleeces soft and warm Our happy land shall sleep In a repose as deep As if we lay intrenched behind Whole leagues of Russian ice and Arctic storml 16 And finally and best of his musical technique and mastery of rhythm is a Summer Shower. Welcome, rain or tempest From yon airy powers, We have languished for them Many sultry hours, And earth is sick and wan, and pines with all her flowers. What have they been doing In the burning June Riding with the genii Visiting the moon Or sleeping on the ice amnid an arctic noon Bring they with them Jewels From the -sunset lands What are these they scatter With such lavish hands There are no brighter gems in Raolconda's sands. Pattering on the gravel, Dropping from the eaves, Glancing in the grass, and Tinkling on the leaves, They flash the liquid pearls as flung from fairy sieves. Wait, thou jealous sunshine, Break not on their bliss; Earth will blush in roses Many a day for this, And bend a brighter brow beneath thy burning kiss. But we cannot longer linger with this brave spirit. Had he lived out his natural life under more favorable circumstances he might have ranked with the greatest American poets. Sidney Lanier is the best known azndl bet loved of the southern group. His life was an inspiring example of faith, courage and energy, equaling, if not surpassing that of Timrod. He accomplished vastly more though living only a few years longer than did his precursor in southern song. He was pri- marily, if not chiefly, a musician. Poetry to him was only an- other musical instrument, the flute being the one of which ie was the greatest master. His theories of poetry are probably 17 the soundest to be found in all criticism. But it would have been better for his reputation as a poet if he had never formu- lated these principles into prose. His poetry should have spoken for itself. One who is familiar with his work entitled Music and Poetry, is apt to have these theories in mind as he reads Lanier's verse. Poetry should never suggest theories of any sort. The Song of the Chattahoochee is one of the finest lyrics ever written, equalling if not surpassing Tennyson's Brook. If I had a reputation as a critic, I might hesitate to make this statement, but being only desirous to tell the truth, I have no hesitancy in saying that I have gotten more joy and inspiration out of Lanier's poem than out of Tennyson's Brook, much as I love that wonderful lyric. Oi-dinarily I do not care to fish for the allegory in poetry. But when there is an underlying spirit- ual meaning in every line, oaie can but respond to the finer breath of the song. 'This peiln is not only, in my) opinion, in- tensely autobiographie, but iU carries with it an inspiration of universal ambition. The hand of the divine was on Lanier from childhood. There was 10o musical instrument that he could not play. ilis father, belonging to the old s&iool of the south, ana believing the law and the forum where the only theatres for the exhibition of talent, and that even a business career was far su- perior to the pursuit of any art, persuaded his boy to give up the violin and play only the flute, hoping to win him away from the life of music and lead him into law or business. But the little green leaves would not let him alone in his sleep; up breathed from the marshes a mesage of range and sweep, ana interwoven with waftures of wild sea-liberties. Out af the hills of Habersham, Down the valleys of Hall, I hurry amain to reach the plain, Run the rapid and leap the fall, Split at the rock and together again, Accept my bed, or narrow or wide, And flee from folly on every side With a lover's pain to attain the plain Flar from the hills of Habersham, Far from the valleys of Hall. i8 All down the hills of Habersham, AU through the valleys of Hall, The rushes cried, Abide, Abide, The willful waterweeds held me thrall, The la ing laurel turned my tide, The ferns and the fondling brass said Stay, The dewberry dipped for to work delay, And the little reeds sighed Abide, Abide, Here in the hills of Habersham, Here in the valleys of Hall. High o'er the hills of Habersham, Veiling the valleys of Hall, The hickory told me manifold Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall Wrought me her shadowy self to hold, The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine, Overleaning, with flickering meaning and sign, Said, Pass not, so cold, these manifold Deep shades of the hills of RTabersham, These glades in the valleys of Hall. And oft In the hills of Habersham, And oft in the valleys of Hall, The white quartz shbnp, and smooth brook-stone Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl, And many a luminous jewel lone Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist, Ruby, garnet and amethyst- Made lures with the lights of streaming stone In the clefts of the hills of Habersham, In the beds of the valleys of Hall. But oh, not the hills of Habersham, And oh, not the valleys of Hall Avail: I am fain to water the plain. Downward the voices of Duty call- Downward, to toil and be mixed with main, The dry fields burn, and the mills are to tu, And a myriad flowers mortally yearn, And the lordly main from beyond the plain Calls o'er the hills of Habersham, Calls through the valleys of Hall. The range and sweep of his genius is best seen in his Marsh Hymns. Here is originality and power. But the message is only to the poetic soul, for poetry of this type, will never be understood and loved by the masses of mankind. His simple 19 poem, The Ballad of the Trees and the Master, is one of those flashes of genius that always distinguish a poet from a rhymster. Into the woods my Master went, Clean forspent, forspent. Into the woods my Master came, Forspent with love and shame. But the olives they were not blind to Him, The little gray leaves were kind to Him: The thorn-tree had a mind to Him When into the woods He came. Out of the woods my Master went, And he was well content. Out of the woods my Master came, Content with death and hAbame. When Death and Shame would woo Him last, From under the trees they drew Him last: 'Twas on a tree they slew Him-last When out of the woods He came. Personally I do not consider his Symphony a great poem, though many have founid it so. And again his Corna as a whole is somewhat tedious though containing some wonderful poetry. But his song of songs, Sunrise, he wrote while dying. It was indeed Sunrise in this world as well as in the world that was opening to Lanier's soul. It is all but divinely inspired and is clothed with ineffable light. In my sleep I was fain of their fellowship, fain Of the live-oak, the marsh, and the main. The little green leave, would not let me alone in my sleep; Up-breathed from the marshes, a message of range and of sweep, Interwoven with waftures of wild sea-liberties, drifting, Came through the lapped leaves sifting, sifting. Came to the gates of sleep. Then my thoughts, in the dark of the dungeon-keep Of the Castle of Captives hid in the City of Sleep, Upstarted, by twos and by threes assembling: The gates of sleep fell a-trembling Like as the lips of a lady that forth falter yes. Shaken with happiness: The gates of sleep stood wide. I have waked, I have come, my beloved! I might not abide: I have come ere the dawn, 0 beloved, my live-oaks, to hide In your gospelling glooms-to be As a lover In heaven, the marsh my marsh and the sea my sea. 20 But the range of Lanier's genius was so broad, and his versatility was so marked that no adequate discussion of his work can here be given. One of the most inspiring and beau- tiful stories I have ever read is the devotion of Lanier's wife in his struggles with poverty and disease and the high call of art. My Springs is a tribute to this devoted companion, as beau- tiful and tender, if not as highly inspired, as the lines of Rob- ert Browning to his poet wife who had already taken flight into the realms of light. I refer to the closing passage of the first book of The Rng safid Lthc ook. -There iawe the lines of Lanier: In the heart of the Hills of Life, I know Two springts that with unbroken flow Forev(er pour their lucent streams Into my soul's far Lake of Dreams. Not larger than two eyes, they lie Beneath the many-changing sky And mirror all of life and time, -Serene and dainty pantomime. Shot through with light of stars and dawns, And shadowed sweet by ferns and fawns, -Thus heaven and earth together vie Their shining depths to sanctify. Always when Faith with stifling stress Of grief hath died in bitterness, I gaze in my two springs and see A Faith that smiles immortality. Always, when art on perverse wing Flies where I cannot hear him sing, I gaze in my two springs and see A charm that brings him back to me. O Love, 0 Wife, thine eyes are they, -My springs from out whose shining gray Issue the sweet celestial streams That feed my life's bright Like of Dreams. The younger Hayne is a nature poet pure and simple, and in airy grace and lightness of touch surpasses even his father. He exercised the minstrel's joy of roaming hill and forest, lis- tening to the song-birds, and recording their music. He loved 21 to watch their wings in thickets dim. He noted that the redbird is a winged ruby wrought of flame, and to him the shimmering wing of the hummingbird was a thing of beauty and a constant joy. TO A HUMMING BIRD. When bending o'er a blossom's cup To draw its liquid sweetness up, You act as though, in honied lore, You were a sylvan epicure! And soon above its brittle stem, Bright as a fairy's diadem, To :cme rnsu-llred lochni you dart, And drain the nectar from its heart! O'er lily leaves or fragrant vines Your dainty body sways and shines, Until to some rich rose it clings. With kindred color in its wings! Why are you always fleet and bright, With blended attributes of light Is It because in some far time Your sires of an elder clime To the young earth were swiftly drawn Prom the pure potencies of dawn, And through the grace of heaven increased From the first sunrise In the Elast But the Screech-Owl is to him a dark and portentous thing. He loves the dark, he shuns the light, His soul rejoices in the night! When the sun's latest glow has fled, Weird as a warning from the dead, His voice comes o'er the startled rills, And the black hollows of the hills, 22 As though to chant, in language fell, An invocation caught from hell! He seeks the dark, he shuns the light, His soul rejoices in the night! He loves to think man's breath must pass Like a spent wind amid the grass; And oft the bitterest blows of Fate, His eerie cries anticipate! AM! once he knew in realms below The mysteries of Death and Woe; And in his somber wings are furled The secrets of the under world! Several years ago I read two volumes of poems by Samuel Minturn Peck, a Georgia poet, who I think is today connected with the Atlanta Constitution. I wish I had time and space to say something of this southern singer, but I must be con- tent with a statement of my impressions of his song, made at the time in sonnet form when I had finished his Rhymes and Rosez. The drowsy drone of honey-laden bees, The poppied breath of gardens blooming fair, The scent of elder blossoms, sweet and rare, Coame stealing in on balmy southern breeze; And dying lays, whose long lost melodies Still haunt old storied ruins everywhere, Are dimly floating through the fragrant air- I dream beneath the blooming apple trees: A merry orchestra of nymphs and fays Has gathered in the pine tree's elfin shade, With naiad shell and fairy reed and string, While Minturn Peck the magic baton sways. And when the band his "Rhymes and Roses," played, The dryads' voices madeithe woodlands ring! And now I have not time for even a line from George G. Prentice, imported from New England to Kentucky. His Clos- ing Year is all but as well known as Thanatopsis, but he is known as a poet almost exclusively by this poem, though in my 23 opinion he wrote at least a dozen others of almost equal beauty and power. Madison Cawein, who died but a few years ago, while still a young man, gave the world almost as large a volume of poetry as did Robert Browning. William Dean Howells and Edmund Gosse, two of the leading critics in America and England, long ago accorded Cawein a high place in American poetry. His lines are replete with verbal felicities and striking figures. But I have found few readers who could quote a whole stanza of his poetry. He has no message at all that I can discover. And by message I do not mean lesson or moral sermon. I mean that his poems as wholes mean nothing in the larger unit. His genius was for lines and phrases, for word inventions and most unusual and surprising similes and metaphors. This does not make poetry though it may highly adorn it. But just as rhyme and metrics and versatile and well modulated rhythm are not in themselves poetry, so the felicitous phrase and the magic figure and the surprising simile can never make a poem. Break, Break-, Break is a poem, bri'g bif t complete, nid a poem not made by the magic line "Thy cold gray stones, 0 sea." It would be a matter of small trouble to gather a string of glittering poetic beads from any one of Cawein's numerous volumes. But aside from a single poem written just before his untimely death, which may be considered his swan song, I have never felt any one of his poems as a whole. But this poem is one of the finest that has appeared in American literature in a decade. This is the truth afs I see it, my dear, Out in the wind and the rain: They who have nothing have little to fear- Nothing to lose or to gain. Here by the road at the end o' the year, Let us sit down and drink of our beer, Happy-Go-Lucky and her Cavalier, Out in the wind and the rain. Now we are old, hey, isn't it fine, Out in the wind and the rain Now we have nothing, why snivel and whine What would it bring us again When I was young I took you like wine, 24 Held you and kissed you and thought you divine- Happy-Go-Lucky, the 'labit's still mine, Out in the wind and the rain. Oh, my old Heart, what a life we have led, Out in the wind and the rain! How we have drunken and how we have fed! Nothing to lose or to gain. Cover the fire now; get we to bed. Long is the journey and far has it led. Come, let us sleep, lass, sleep like the dead, Out in the wind and the rain. Cawein was in league with the genii of wood and stream and he gathered his gems on some fairy shore. It seems to me a pity that he Jid not use them for adornment, as a beautiful woman dresses well without calling attention to her jewels. May I express in sonnet form a conception of Cawein: I saw him standing with his ear a-tilt As if he beard strange music in the wood- Some concert by his fairy brotherhood- Or drops of song, by spir-t-redbird spilt Where southwinds tossed them till he felt the lilt Of love that pulsed in rhythm through his blood; And then I knew my poet understood Where dryads made their home and song-birds built. And I have learned who schooled him in the tongue Of elfland, wood, and naiad stream, Inspired and then Interpreted his dream, And taught him all the songs that he has sung: 'Twas she no mortal eye did ever scan But his--the daughter of the wood-god Pan. In my opinion, Cale Young Rice is far superior to Cawein as a poet. His poetry has meaning as a whole. There is syn- thesis in his lines and stanzas, and this I cannot find in Cawein. The first thing that an= rruder of Cale Young Rice will notice, is his love for the sea, though oftentimes his utterance is in- spired by the wind, the mountain, the season, and sometimes by a bird or flower. But whether he draws his inspiration from landscape or ocean, he is not a pictorial poet. Much less is he a poet-photographer. I would nlot sav, howcever, that he is not 25 picturesque, for a single line often gives us a scene at once both beautiful and sublime. The fierce sea-sunset over the world Springs like a wounded spirit. Or When the wind Is low, and the sea is soft, And the far heat-lightnIng plays On the rim of the west where dark clouds rest On a darker bank of haze. But Mr. Rice is not often concerned with detail of descrip- tion. In this, as in his general attitude toward nature, he re- sembles Wordsworth more than he does Mathew Arnold, Keats or Shelly. And in what he omits, as well as in what he says and thinks, he is very unlike a host o2 conleniporary poets. Madison Cawein le.; l ethicw -cup eis ex e. A painter could copy one of his descriptions and all but pass it off for a photo- graph. Conrad Aiken has more detail on'a few pages of his Earth Triumphant than can be found in a whole volume of Mr. Rice. Amy Lowell sees a greater variety of natural (and some- times unnatural) phenomena through a cobwebbed window than Mr. Rice has ever discovered from a mountain top. He is no petty poet, nor has he the microscopic eye. The sublimer as- pects of nature appeal most powerfully to him. He is not con- cerned so much about what lie sees as how he feels and what he thinks. "And I would that my tongue could utter, The thoughts that arise in me," seems always in his heart. Not the picture alone delights his eye, but something suggested by it disturbs him "with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused whose dwelling is in the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air, and the blue sky and in the mind of man." Mr. Rice is a poet of contemplation, of meditation. There is much of the brooding spirit in his poetry. And this is be- cause he is philosopher as well as poet. He sees beyond the land- scape. He delves into its hidden meaning, into the secrets that lie beyond the reach of eye or ear. He holds communion with 26 nature's visible forms, indeed, but more with her spirit. And the language that she speaks to him is the language of hope and faith and immortality. There are times, indeed, when dark- ness comes like a pall over his spirit, and hope for the moment wanes-times when he seems to fall "upon the great world's altar stairs that slope through darkness up to God," and though he stretch lame hands of faith and grope, he calls to what he feels is lord of all, and bravely trusts the larger hope. And always faith is at last triumphant. And so it is, much as he loves the face of the ocean, earth and sky, he is most of all con- cerned with her teachings, her mysteries, her inspiration. But let him sy)ealk for hnimself The universe is spread before my face, Worlds where perchance a million seas like this Are flowing and where tides of pain and bliss, Find, as on earth, so prevalent a place That nothing of their wont we there should miss. The Universe that man has dared to say Is but one Being--ah, courageous thought! Which is so vast that hope Itself is fraught With shame, while saying It, and shrinks away. It would be a pleasure to extend this criticism of Mr. Rice's poetry. His renutation is suil ering probbl-y from his inability so far, to make any poem stand out from his great mass of poetry like the Vagabonds of Trowbridge, or Woodman, Spare That Tree of G. P. Morris. There is almost a monotonous evenness in his poetic work. It is all far above the average verse, musical, finished, refined, delicate, artistic. But like most of the con- temporary and for that mater .'Il noetrv. therv s nothings that has especially called attention to him. With each new volume, I have looked for the advent of such a poem, but so far it has not appeared. I think I can best sum up my impressions of his genius and passions, his attitude toward nature and human na ture in these lines: He loves the boom of breakers on the shore, The winds that lash the billows into foam; He loves the placid seas beneath the dome Of blue infinitudes-not less, but more; He loves to brood upon the mystic lore Of silent stars above the silent seas, And feels the passion of infinities Beyond, where only Faith would dare explore. Thus groping after God has helped him find Divinity in man (where only sin And brutal lust have seemed to hedge him in), And taught his heart that Fate Is never blind. That somehow, somewhere, now beyond our ken, One day we'll understand the wrongs of men. All of the southern poets have felt their kinship with the song birds. I have noted as many as ten poems to the mocking- bird. It would be interesting if we could read these poems in full. It would give us more than an understanding of each poet's technique. Often the interpretation of the music of the mocking bird is a revelation of a heart rife with song. What a revealment of personality in fhese lines from Albert Pike: Ha! what a burst was that! The Aeolian strain Goes floating through the tangled passages Of the still woods, and now it comes again. A multitudinous melody-like a rain Of glassy music under echoing trees, Close by a ringing lake. It wraps the soul With a bright harmony of happiness, Even as a gem is wrapped when round It roll Thin waves of crimson flame; till we become With the excess of perfect pleasure, dumb, And pant like a swift runner clinging to the goal. I cannot love the man who doth not love, As men love light, the song of happy birds; For the first visions that my boy-heart wove To fill its sleep with, were that I did rove Through the fresh woods, what time the snowy herds Of morning clouds shrunk from the advancing sun Into the depths of Heavtn's blue heart, as words From the poet's lips float gently, one by one, And vanish in the human heart; and then I reveled in such songs and sorrows when With noon-heat overwrought, the musie-gush was done. 28 Many a poet writes only to relieve the tension of an over- wrought heart. Such a song is that of Hilton Ross Greer in his Mockingbird. Then, as if such riotings Had consumed symphonic springs, For a solemn space-a hush! But once more a rhythmic gush, Flashing downward, fleet and free, Mad with mirthful minstrelsy; Ravishing the raptured ear With a cadence crystal-clear As the laugh of limpid rain In autumnal fields of grain: Stilling spirit-strife and stress With a rune of restfulness: Purging blood and breast and brain Of their poignant pangs of pain: Rousing 'noble aims and true In the slumbrous soul of you! The Mockingbird at -nhr- b'r Paul Hamilton Hayne shows Mr. Hayne a songbird of scarcely less passion and versatility of rhythm than the king of song in birdland. A golden pallor of voluptuous light Filled the warm southern night; The moon, clear orbed, above the sylvan scene Moved like a stately queen, So rife with conscious beauty all the while, What could she do but smile At her own perfect loveliness below, Glassed in the tranquil flow Of crystal fountains and unruffled streams Half loot in waking dreams, As down the loneliest forest dell I strayed, Lo! from a neighboring glade, Flashed through the drifts of moonshine. swiftly cme A fairy shape of flame. It rose in dazzling spirals overhead, Whence, to wild sweetness wed, Poured marvelous melodies, silvery trill on trill; The very leaves grew still On the charmed trees to harken; while, for me, Heart-thrilled to ecstasy, I followed-followed the bright shape that flew, Still circling up the blue, 29 Till, as a fountain that has reached its height Falls back in sprays of light Slowly dissolved, so that enrapturing lay, Divinely melts away Through tremulous spaces to a music-mist, Soon by the fitful breeze How gently kissed Into remote and tender silences. What is more exquisite in all the range of music and poetry than the three sonnets by Sidney Lanier Trillets of humor-shrewdest whistle-wit-- Contralto csdences of grave desire, Such as from off the passionate Indian pyre Drift down through sandal-ordered flames that split About the slim young widow who doth sit And sing above midnight of tone entire Tissues of moonlight shot with songs of fire; Bright drops of tune, from oceans infinite Of melody, sipped off the thin-edged wave And trickling down the beak-discourses brave Of serious matter that no man may guess- Good-fellow greetings, cries of light distress- All these but now within the house we heard: 0 death. wast thou too deaf to hear the bird Ah Ire. though never an ear for song, thou hast A tireless tooth for oengc'ters: thus of late Thou camest. Death. thou Cat! and eap'pt `rmy gate, And, long ere Love could follow, thou hadst passed Within and snotched away, how fast, how fast, My bird-wit, songs, and all-thy richest freight Since that fell time when in some wink of fate Thy yellow claws unsheathed and stretched, and cast Sharp hold on Keats, and dragged him slow away, And harried him with hope and horrid play- Ay, him, the world's best wood-bird, wise with song- Till thou hast wrcwrh, thine own last mrortal wrong. 'Twas wrong! 'twas wreng! I care not, wrong's the word- To munch our Keats and crunch our mocking-bird. Nay, Bird; my grief gainsays the Lord's best right. The Lord was fain, at some late festal time, That Keats should set all Heaven's woods in rhyme, And thou in bird-notes. Lo, this tearful night, 30 Methinks I see thee, fresh from death's despite, Perched in a palm-grove, wild with pantomime, O'er blissful companies couched in shady thyme, -Methinks I hear thy silver whistlings bright Mix with the mighty discourse of the wise, Till broad Beethoven, deaf no more, and Keats, 'Midst of much talk, uplift their smiling eyes, And mark the music of thy wood-conceits, And halfway pause on some large, courteous word, And call thee "Brother," 0 thou heavenly Bird! Frank L. Stanton, one of the greatest humorous poets that our country has produced, and next to Irwin Russel and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the keenest interpreter of negro char- actor, gives us the origin of the mockingbird in these lines. He didn't know much music When first he came along; An' all the birds went wonderin' Why he didn't sing a song. They primped their feathers in the sun, An' sung their sweetest notes; An' music Jest come on the run From all their purty throats! But still that bird was silent In summer time an' fall; He Jest set still an' listened, An' he wouldn't sing at all! But one night when them songsters Was tired out an' still, An' the wind sighed down the valley An' went creepin' up the hM; When the stars wvas all a-tremble In the drearnin' fields o' blue, An' the daisy in the darkness Felt the fallin' o' the dew- There come a sound o' melody No mortal ever heard, An' all the birds seemed singin' From the throat o' one sweet bird! Then the other birds went Mayin' In a land too fur to call; Per there warn't no use in stayin' When one bird could sing fer all! 31 No one with the slightest impulse for song can restrain his pen, once he comes under the spell of the southern mocking bird. I can testify myself that at times I have been so enthralled by his music that I was unable to do anything else until the spell was broken, and the spell was never broken until the song had ceased. I hope, therefore, that I may be pardoned for ex- pressing my mocking bird emotions in these lines: Whence is thy song, Voluptuous soul of the amorous South Oh! whence the wind, the rain, the drouth; The dews of eve; the mists of morn; The bloom of rose; the thistle's thorn; Whence light of love; whence dark of scorn; Whence joy; whence grief; Death, born of wrong- Ah! whence is life ten thousand passions throng Thence Is thy song! Thou singest the rage of jealous Moor, The passionate love of Juliet; Thy villanous art can weave a net With shreds of song, that never yet Hath lover escaped, however noble and pure. Ophelia's broken heart is thine, And Desdemona's, true and good; Thou paintcst the damned spot of blood That will not out in stain or line! Oh Lear! Oh Fool! Oh Witch Macbeth! And wonderous Hamlet in a breath! Who knows thy heart thy song thy words Thou Shakespeare in the realm of birds! This paper has already extended beyond the limits I had intended, and I have not even mentioned the names of all of the Kentucky poets of talent and note. A few years ago Robert Burns Wilson ranked high among the poets of America. Henry T. Stanton made a national reputation on a single poem, The Moneyless Mal. Will 1-1. Hays wis the most noted writer of popular songs in Amer ca a generation ago. His Molly Darling has been sung the world around. O'Hara is known almost ex- clusively by the Bivouac of "le Dead, whici has been com- mitted to memory by thousands of readers. I would like to refer to other well known poets of Kentucky and the South, such as Olive Tilford Dargan, but lack of space forbids. Edwin Carlile 32 Litsey is a true poet, though, better known as a writer of short stories and novels. The following taken almost at random from his volume of beautiful verse, Spindrift, will give the reader the flavor of his poetry. This book deserves careful and sym- pathetic reading by lovers of poetry. O how I love the sturdy, patient trees! Naught else in Nature holds a charm like these. Whether in calm, when ghostly words are flung From leaf to leaf in mystic, wildwood tongue; Or whether in the awful time of storm, When each assumes a wild, majestic form, And, whipped to fury by the goading blast, Shriek.s oict its chalienge to the tempest vast! I love them sleeping in the arms of night; I love them in the blush of morning's light, In midd-ay's glare when -ll tbel leaves rJooiee, And rustle sylvan secrets in low voice, And bird notes wake the silence above In dreamy chirps and crooningis of wild love- I love them then; and yet, again when low The sun is swinging in the western glow, It is my joy to stand enrapt and calm, And feel the blessings of the forest's balm. And this: Formless and still, close wrapped in darkness dense, The summer landscape breathed Its redolence; Till, touched by moon-dawn-a magician's rod- It bloomed a flower in the hand of God. And TH E IIINRY UT7AP.T. You've given me an honored place I know I have the power to grace. You've given me your worthy name, Free from reproach, or cloud or blame. Your mansion rising granite strong. Will shelter me my whole life long. Your wealth is mine to squander free, And hosts of women envy me. 33 In ease and luxury I abide From morning glow to eventide. I'd give it all to hear you say A little word of love each day. David Morton has already won a secure place in poetic literature, his sonnets taking high rank among the critics. But we can give no more space to this paper. The names of other Kentucky poets have already been referred to in pages of the Quarterly and can not be mentioned again. If this paper leads the teachers of Kentucky and in the Southland to turn the pages of Southern Poetry in search of literature worthy to place before their students it wvill have accomplished all and even more than I dare hope. Note.-The quotatior.s in this article are taken from poems that appear in the followings worbs: Library af Southern Liter- ature, published b- Tile Martin ard Hoyt Company, Atlanta, Georgia; Southern Literatur3, by Louise Manly, published by The B. F. Johnson Publishing Company, Richmond, Va.; Sou- thern Literary Readings ty Lconidas Warren Payne, Jr., pub- lished by Rand McNally & Company, Chicago; Poems of Henry Timrod, B. F. Johnson Publishing Company; Poems of Sidney Lanier, Charles Scribners Sons, New York; Collected Plays and Poems of Cale Young Rice, and Earth and New Earth by Cale Young Rice, both published by Doubleday, Page, New York; Spindrift, by Edwin Carlile Litsey, published by John P. Morton & Company, Louisville, Ky.; Poems, by Robert Love- man, published by J. B. Lippincott Company, Pihila.; At the End of the Road, Madison Cawein in the Bellman, 1914. 34 AIMS. If I can sing a cheerful lay To make some sad heart lighter; If I can smile one sunny smile To make some dark path brighter; If I can speak a hopeful word To ease a heart in pain, My living, in this need filled world Shall not have been in vain. IL I can !end a strn4Xgtheding hand To help a, weaker brother; If I can throw aa arm around Sorw little oaie er other; If I can share a crust of bread To ease some pang of hunger; if I can speak a helpful word To someone who is younger; If I can tell a soul of love, And prove it by my living, I'll do the best that can be done In this old world, by giving. -Alice Hazel Wood