Poetry and the Practical

University of Arkansas Press, 1. jan. 1998 - 124 sider

Delivered as a three-part lecture series in 1854 at the famous Hibernian Society Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, Simms's spirited defense of poetry stands in the nobel line of poetic credos from poets such as Sir Philip Sidney and Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is the only full-length work of its kind in American literature, and it has never before been published.

Seventh in the University of Arkansas Press's Simms Series, Poetry and the Practical is a clear, forceful rebuttal of arguments that would relegate poetry to the margins of life. It proclaims the high calling of poets as spokesmen and romantic visionaries, underscoring their mission to reveal truth and passion, mind and heart and to transcend the limiting bounds of the empirical. In proving poetry's utility and worth, Simms uses all the tools of persuasion open to him: his wide reading, his considerable knowledge of the history of culture and civilizations, his understanding of the values of place and tradition, and, above all, an oratorical eloquence, which allows his words to leave the page in a rush of inspiration.

These lectures, which still retain their identity as scripts prepared and punctuated for performance, provide profound insight into Simms the poet and into the effects of industrialization, the southern sensibility, and the influence of European thought on southern literature at a critical point in that literature's development.

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Side xxxii - It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man. It can be one of the props, the pillars, to help him endure and prevail.
Side 51 - If deed of honour did thee ever please, Guard them, and him within protect from harms. He can requite thee; for he knows the charms That call fame on such gentle acts as these, And he can spread thy name o'er lands and seas, Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms. Lift not thy spear against the Muses...
Side 64 - Soon shall thy arm, unconquer'd Steam ! afar Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car ; Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear The flying-chariot through the fields of air. —Fair crews triumphant, leaning from above, Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move ; Or warrior-bands alarm the gaping crowd, And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud.
Side xxxii - He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed — love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.
Side xxxii - I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
Side 112 - Strong the earthy odour grows — I smell the mould above the rose ! Welcome Life ! the Spirit strives ! Strength returns and hope revives ; Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn Fly like shadows at the morn, — O'er the earth there comes a bloom ; Sunny light for sullen gloom, Warm perfume for vapour cold — I smell the rose above the mould ! April, 1845.

Om forfatteren (1998)

William Gilmore Simms was born in Charleston, South Carolina, April, 17 1806. His academic education was received in the school of his native city, where he was for a time a clerk in a drug and chemical house. Though his first aspirations were for medicine, he studied law at eighteen, but never practised. In 1827, he published in Charleston a volume of Lyrical and other Poems, his first attempt in literature. The following year, he became editor and partial owner of the Charleston City Gazette. In 1829 he published another volume of poems, The Vision of Cortes, and in 1830, The Tricolor. His paper proved a bad investment, and through its failure, in 1833, he was left penniless. Simms decided to devote himself to literature, and began a long series of volumes which did not end till within three years of his death.He published a poem entitled "Atalantis, a Tale of the Sea" (New York, 1832), the best and longest of all his poetic works. The Yemassee is considered his best novel, but Simms is mainly known as a writer of fiction, the scene of his novels is almost wholly southern. He was for many years a member of the legislature, and in 1846 was defeated for lieutenant-governor by only one vote. Simmd died in Charleston on June, 11 1870

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