Tuesday, December 22, 2015


By Henry Timrod - (1828-1867) He was the Poet Laureate of the Confederacy. (see below following poem)

How grace this hallowed day?
Shall happy bells, from yonder ancient spire,
Send their glad greetings to each Christmas fire
Round which the children play?
Alas! for many a moon,
That tongueless tower hath cleaved the Sabbath air,
Mute as an obelisk of ice, aglare
Beneath an Arctic noon.
Shame to the foes that drown
Our psalms of worship with their impious drum,
The sweetest chimes in all the land lie dumb
In some far rustic town.
There, let us think, they keep,
Of the dead Yules which here beside the sea
They’ve ushered in with old-world, English glee,
Some echoes in their sleep.
How shall we grace the day?
With feast, and song, and dance, and antique sports,
And shout of happy children in the courts,
And tales of ghost and fay?
Is there indeed a door,
Where the old pastimes, with their lawful noise,
And all the merry round of Christmas joys,
Could enter as of yore?
Would not some pallid face
Look in upon the banquet, calling up
Dread shapes of battles in the wassail cup,
And trouble all the place?
How could we bear the mirth,
While some loved reveler of a year ago
Keeps his mute Christmas now beneath the snow,
In cold Virginian earth?
How shall we grace the day?
Ah! let the thought that on this holy morn
The Prince of Peace — the Prince of Peace was born,
Employ us, while we pray!
Pray for the peace which long
Hath left this tortured land, and haply now
Holds its white court on some far mountain’s brow,
There hardly safe from wrong!
Let every sacred fane
Call its sad votaries to the shrine of God,
And, with the cloister and the tented sod,
Join in one solemn strain!
With pomp of Roman form,
With the grave ritual brought from England’s shore,
And with the simple faith which asks no more
Than that the heart be warm!
He, who, till time shall cease,
Will watch that earth, where once, not all in vain,
He died to give us peace, may not disdain
A prayer whose theme is — peace.
Perhaps ere yet the Spring
Hath died into the Summer, over all
The land, the peace of His vast love shall fall,
Like some protecting wing.
Oh, ponder what it means!
Oh, turn the rapturous thought in every way!
Oh, give the vision and the fancy play,
And shape the coming scenes!
Peace in the quiet dales,
Made rankly fertile by the blood of men,
Peace in the woodland, and the lonely glen,
Peace in the peopled vales!
Peace in the crowded town,
Peace in a thousand fields of waving grain,
Peace in the highway and the flowery lane,
Peace on the wind-swept down!
Peace on the farthest seas,
Peace in our sheltered bays and ample streams,
Peace wheresoe’er our starry garland gleams,
And peace in every breeze!
Peace on the whirring marts,
Peace where the scholar thinks, the hunter roams,
Peace, God of Peace! peace, peace, in all our homes,
And peace in all our hearts!
Timrod h.jpg
Henry Timrod was born on December 8, 1829, in Charleston, South Carolina, to a family of German descent. His grandfather Heinrich Dimroth emigrated to the United States in 1765 and anglicized his name.[1] His father, William Henry Timrod, was an officer in the Seminole Wars and a poet himself.
With the outbreak of American Civil War, in a state of fervent patriotism, Timrod returned to Charleston to begin publishing his war poems, which drew many young men to enlist in the service of the Confederacy. His first poem of this period is "Ethnogenesis", written in February, 1861, during the meeting of the first Confederate Congress at Montgomery, Alabama.
"A Cry to Arms", "Carolina" and "The Cotton Boll" are other famous examples of his martial poetry. He was a frequent contributor of poems to Russell's Magazine and to The Southern Literary Messenger.
On March 1, 1862, Timrod enlisted into the military as a private in Company B, 30th South Carolina Regiment, and was detailed for special duty as a clerk at regimental headquarters,[2] but his tuberculosis prevented much service, and he was sent home. After the bloody Battle of Shiloh, he tried again to live the camp life as a western war correspondent for the Charleston Mercury, but this too was short lived as he was not strong enough for the rugged task.
He returned from the front and settled in Columbia, South Carolina, to become associate editor of the South Carolinian, a daily newspaper. Throughout 1864 he wrote many articles for the paper.[2] In February 1864 he married his beloved Katie, and they soon had a son, Willie, born on Christmas Eve.
This happy period in his life was short-lived. General Sherman's troops invaded Columbia on February 17, 1865, one year and one day after his marriage. Due to the vigor of his editorials, he was forced into hiding, his home was burned,[2] and the newspaper office was destroyed.

The aftermath of war brought his family poverty and to him and his wife, increasing illness. He moved his family into his sister and mother's home in Columbia.[2] Then, his son Willie died on October 23, 1865.

He took a post as correspondent for a new newspaper based in Charleston, The Carolinian, but continued to reside in Columbia.[2] Even after several months of work, however, he was never paid, and the paper folded. In economic desperation, he submitted poems written in his strongest style to northern periodicals, but all were coldly declined. Henry continued to seek work, but continued to be disappointed. Finally, in November, 1866, he was given an assistant clerkship under Governor James L. Orr's staff member James S. Simons. This lasted less than a month, after which he was again dependent on charity and odd jobs to feed his family of women. Despite the harshly reduced circumstances, and mounting health problems, he was still able to produce highly regarded poetry. His "Memorial Ode", composed in the Spring of 1867 "was sung at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, in May when the graves of the southern dead were decorated."

He finally succumbed to consumption Sunday morning, October 7, 1867, and was laid to rest in the churchyard at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia next to his son.

No comments:

Post a Comment