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Out of the woods my Master went,
the nobly rhythmical Marshes of Glynn, or The Song of the Chattahoochee,
All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall. Poe had a melody of unearthly sweetness, but little basis of thought; Lanier had a richer, if less bewitching melody, and thought. He had the balance, the selfLanier's control, in which Poe was lacking. It is almost Poetry.
a sure test of any kind of greatness if its achievements carry
with them an overtone that murmurs, “The man is greater than his deed. He could do more than he has ever done.” We do not feel this in Poe; we do feel it in Lanier. In his rare combination of Southern richness with Northern restraint, he will ever be an inspiration to the poetry that must arise from the luxuriant land of the South. He is not only the greatest Southern poet ; he is one of the greatest poets that our country has produced. “How I long to sing a thousand various songs that oppress me unsung!” he wrote;
and no lover of poetry can turn the last leaf of his single volume of verse without an earnest wish that a longer life had permitted his desire to be gratified.
F. THE SOUTHERN WRITERS
There was little writing in the South, because of the lack of large cities, the small home market for modern books, and the tendencies of plantation life toward statesmanship and oratory rather than literary composition. The best of this scattered writing was done by Wirt. Later, Simms, the
Cooper of the South,” published many volumes of poems and many novels. The Yemassee is regarded as his best novel. He is Cooper's superior in the delineation of women. His novels give much information about colonial life in the South. Hayne, the “poet-laureate of the South,” lost his property by the war. He wrote many beautiful poems, and was especially successful in the sonnet. His personality gleams through his writings. Henry Timrod had a hard struggle with poverty. He writes in many tones with sincerity, love of nature, and frequent flashes of poetic expression. The facts in Poe's life have been variously interpreted. He first became known through his reviews. His tales are his most valuable prose. They are well constructed and remarkably realistic. His poetry is on the borderland of poetry and music. He wrote fewer than fifty poems.
He has left a doubtfully true account of his manufacture of The Raven. There is a fascinating music in whatever he writes. He has not the “high seriousness” of the great poet, but in the power to express feeling by the mere sound of the words he has no rival. Lanier had musical and poetical genius.
He enlisted in the Confederate army. At the close of the war, he taught, lectured, read, wrote, played first flute in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He struggled with ill health and narrow means. He did much editing, wrote on the development of the novel, on the science of English verse, on the relations of poetry and music, and on Shakespeare and his forerunners. His poems are rarely without a rich melody, and never without underlying truth. It proves his genius that he ever seemed greater than his writings. He is one of our greatest poets.
THE NATIONAL PERIOD, 1815
II. LATER YEARS, 186547. Present literary activity. Since the war an enormous amount of printed matter has been produced. We can hardly be said to have a literary centre, for no sooner has one place begun to manifest its right to the title than, behold, some remarkably good work appears in quite another quarter. The whole country seems to have taken its pen in hand. Statesman, financier, farmer, general, lawyer, minister, actor, city girl, country girl, college boy, - everybody is writing. The result of this literary activity is entirely too near us for a final decision as to its merits, and any criticism pronounced upon it ought to have the foot-note, “At least, so it seems at present.”
48. Fiction. The lion's share of this printed matter, in bulk, at any rate, falls under the heading of fiction. Its distinguishing trait is realism, and the apostles of realism are William Dean Howells (1837– ) and Henry James (1843- ). What they write is not thrilling, but the way they write it has charmed thousands of readAmerican
Wit, humor, and grace of style are the
qualities of their productions that are seldom lacking. They write of commonplace people ; but there is a certain restful charm in reading of the behavior of ordinary mortals under ordinary circumstances. Howells lays the scenes of most of his novels on this side of the ocean ; James generally lays his scenes abroad.
Francis Marion Crawford (1854-1909) sometimes brings his characters into America, but the scenes of his best novels are laid elsewhere. Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) is such a master of realism that his Man without a Country persuaded thousands that it was the chronicle of an actual and unjustifiable proceeding. And there is Frank Richard Stockton (1834–1902), whose realism-with-a-screw-loose has given us most inimitable absurdities. Our country is so large and manners of life vary so widely in its different regions that an American novel may have all the advantages of realism and yet be as truly romantic to three fourths of its readers as the wildest dreams of the romanticists. George Washington Cable (1844- ) has painted in The Grandissimes and other works a fascinating picture of Creole life in New Orleans. Richard Malcolm Johnston (1822–1898) tells us of the “Crackers” of Georgia; John Esten Cooke (1830–1866), most of whose work belongs to a somewhat earlier period, has written of the days when chivalry was in flower in the Old Dominion ; Thomas Nelson Page (1853– ) brings before us the negro slave of Virginia, with his picturesque dialect, his devotion to "the fambly," and his notions of things visible and invisible; Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908) has the honor of contributing a in Amerinew character, Uncle Remus, to the world of literature; Mary Noailles Murfree (1850–
), whose very publishers long believed her to be “Mr. Charles Egbert Craddock," has almost the literary monopoly of the mountainous regions of Tennessee. In this the regions are fortunate, for no gleam of beauty, no trait of character, escapes her keen eye. James Lane Allen (1850- ) has taken as his field his own state of Kentucky. He is as realistic as Henry James, but his