13 December 2009

Macon, Georgia: Sidney Lanier, and Francis Robert Goulding: Literary Landmarks of the Southern United States, #27

The birthplace of Sidney Lanier (pronounced 'Luh-KNEE-er') is tucked out of the way from downtown Macon on 935 High Street, a very quiet part of town.

'Birthplace of Sidney Lanier. Sidney Lanier, poet, linguist, musician, mathematician & lawyer, was born in this cottage, Feb. 3, 1842. He graduated form Oglethorpe Univ. then Millegeville, served as a private in the Confederate Army and was captured while commanding a blocade runner. Lanier was married in 1967 to Mary Day of Macon where he practised law with his father. Moving to Maryland he lectured at John Hopkins while carrying on his writing. He died at Lynn, N.C. Sept. 7. 1881. Among his best known works are 'The Marshes of Glynn' & 'Song of the Chattahoochee'.

Song of the Chattahoochee

Out of 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
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall.

All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried `Abide, abide,'
The willful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass 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 Habersham,
These glades in the valleys of Hall.'

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the 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 for to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call –
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the main,
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to turn,
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 Marshes of Glynn

Glooms of the live-oaks, beautiful-braided and woven
With intricate shades of the vines that myriad-cloven
Clamber the forks of the multiform boughs, –
Emerald twilights, –
Virginal shy lights,
Wrought of the leaves to allure to the whisper of vows,
When lovers pace timidly down through the green colonnades
Of the dim sweet woods, of the dear dark woods,
Of the heavenly woods and glades,
That run to the radiant marginal sand-beach within
The wide sea-marshes of Glynn; –

Beautiful glooms, soft dusks in the noon-day fire, –
Wildwood privacies, closets of lone desire,
Chamber from chamber parted with wavering arras of leaves, –
Cells for the passionate pleasure of prayer to the soul that grieves,
Pure with a sense of the passing of saints through the wood,
Cool for the dutiful weighing of ill with good; –

O braided dusks of the oak and woven shades of the vine,
While the riotous noon-day sun of the June-day long did shine
Ye held me fast in your heart and I held you fast in mine;
But now when the noon is no more, and riot is rest,
And the sun is a-wait at the ponderous gate of the West,
And the slant yellow beam down the wood-aisle doth seem
Like a lane into heaven that leads from a dream, –
Ay, now, when my soul all day hath drunken the soul of the oak,
And my heart is at ease from men, and the wearisome sound of the stroke
Of the scythe of time and the trowel of trade is low,
And belief overmasters doubt, and I know that I know,
And my spirit is grown to a lordly great compass within,
That the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn
Will work me no fear like the fear they have wrought me of yore
When length was fatigue, and when breadth was but bitterness sore,
And when terror and shrinking and dreary unnamable pain
Drew over me out of the merciless miles of the plain, –

Oh, now, unafraid, I am fain to face
The vast sweet visage of space.
To the edge of the wood I am drawn, I am drawn,
Where the gray beach glimmering runs, as a belt of the dawn,
For a mete and a mark
To the forest-dark: –
Affable live-oak, leaning low,–
Thus – with your favor – soft, with a reverent hand,
(Not lightly touching your person, Lord of the land!)
Bending your beauty aside, with a step I stand
On the firm-packed sand,
By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.

Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering band
Of the sand-beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land.
Inward and outward to northward and southward the beach-lines linger and curl
As a silver-wrought garment that clings to and follows
the firm sweet limbs of a girl.
Vanishing, swerving, evermore curving again into sight,
Softly the sand-beach wavers away to a dim gray looping of light.
And what if behind me to westward the wall of the woods stands high?
The world lies east: how ample, the marsh and the sea and the sky!
A league and a league of marsh-grass, waist-high, broad in the blade,
Green, and all of a height, and unflecked with a light or a shade,
Stretch leisurely off, in a pleasant plain,
To the terminal blue of the main.

Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea?
Somehow my soul seems suddenly free
From the weighing of fate and the sad discussion of sin,
By the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn.

Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free
Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea!
Tolerant plains, that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun,
Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightily won
God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain
And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain.

As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God:
I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies
In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the skies:
By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod
I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God:
Oh, like to the greatness of God is the greatness within
The range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.

And the sea lends large, as the marsh: lo, out of his plenty the sea
Pours fast: full soon the time of the flood-tide must be:
Look how the grace of the sea doth go
About and about through the intricate channels that flow
Here and there,
Till his waters have flooded the uttermost creeks and the low-lying lanes,
And the marsh is meshed with a million veins,
That like as with rosy and silvery essences flow
In the rose-and-silver evening glow.
Farewell, my lord Sun!
The creeks overflow: a thousand rivulets run
'Twixt the roots of the sod; the blades of the marsh-grass stir;
Passeth a hurrying sound of wings that westward whirr;
Passeth, and all is still; and the currents cease to run;
And the sea and the marsh are one.

How still the plains of the waters be!
The tide is in his ecstasy.
The tide is at his highest height:
And it is night.

And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of sleep
Roll in on the souls of men,
But who will reveal to our waking ken
The forms that swim and the shapes that creep
Under the waters of sleep?
And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in
On the length and the breadth of the marvellous marshes of Glynn.

My Springs

In the heart of the Hills of Life, I know
Two springs that with unbroken flow
Forever 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 lights of stars and dawns,
– Thus heaven and earth together vie
Their shining depths to sanctify.

Always when the large Form of Love
Is hid by storms that rage above,
I gaze in my two springs and see
Love in his very verity.

Always when Faith with stifling stress
Of grief hath died in bitterness,
I gaze in my two springs and see
A Faith that smiles immortally.

Always when Charity and Hope,
In darkness bounden, feebly grope,
I gaze in my two springs and see
A Light that sets my captives free.

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.

When Labor faints, and Glory fails,
And coy Reward in sighs exhales,
I gaze in my two springs and see
Attainment full and heavenly.

O Love, O Wife, thine eyes are they,
– My springs from out whose shining gray
Issue the sweet celestial streams
That feed my life's bright Lake of Dreams.

Oval and large and passion-pure
And gray and wise and honor-sure;
Soft as a dying violet-breath
Yet calmly unafraid of death;

Thronged, like two dove-cotes of gray doves,
With wife's and mother's and poor-folk's loves,
And home-loves and high glory-loves
And science-loves and story-loves,

And loves for all that God and man
In art and nature make or plan,
And lady-loves for spidery lace
And broideries and supple grace

And diamonds and the whole sweet round
Of littles that large life compound,
And loves for God and God's bare truth,
And loves for Magdalen and Ruth,

Dear eyes, dear eyes and rare complete –
Being heavenly-sweet and earthly-sweet,
– I marvel that God made you mine,
For when He frowns, 'tis then ye shine!

This postage stamp was issued on 3 February 1972 to commemorate the 130th year of Lanier's birth, and was designed by William A. Smith of Pineville, Pennsylvania from a Cummins photograph taken in Baltimore, Maryland.

Sidney Lanier's birthplace, open for viewing most days.

As this plaque states, Sidney Lanier was a member of this church, which is more towards downtown Macon, and where there is a plaque dedicated to him in the church vestibule.

This plaque also reveals that Francis R. Goulding preached to 'the Negro members' in the 1860s. The plaque mentions Goulding's novel, Young Marooners on the Florida Coast; or Robert and Harold (1866), which appears to have been targeted at young adults. An obituary of Goulding, originally published on 25 August 1881 by the Enquirer–Sun of Columbus, Georgia, was reprinted in The New York Times several days later:

'The Rev. F. R. Goulding [who was born in 1810] died at his home in Rosewell [sic], Ga., Tuesday night. Nowhere in the State was this talented gentleman better known or more beloved than in Columbus. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas R. Goulding, who for many years was Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of our city. Mrs. Dr. Terry and Mrs. Dr. Pond, of our city, are sisters of the deceased. He was an old and highly esteened minister, and author of "Young Marooners," "Marooners Island," and other works. There are few boys who have not spent many a pleasant hour in the perusal of his works. For some time past he has been in bad health and unable to preach or follow literary pursuits. On one occasion, near Marietta, a gentleman heard the doctor was in straitened circumstances owing to the failure of publishers to pay the royalty on his books and remarked: "I would ike to help a man who by his works so interested my boys." he accordingly wrote a check for $50, which he requested be given the Doctor with his compliments. The gentleman only knew of the Doctor by his works'.

At the time of out brief stay in Macon, we knew nothing of Goulding, although we have since discovered that there is a plaque outside his former house in Roswell, which states:

'Francis Robert Goulding, author, clergyman, inventor, lived in this house at the time of his death, August 22, 1881, and is buried in the Roswell Presbyterian Cemetery. The son of Rev. Thomas Goulding, founder and first president of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Columbia, S. C., Goulding was born near Midway Church in Liberty County, September 28, 1810. Graduated from the University of Georgia in 1830, he was licensed to preach in 1833.

'Best Known as the author of the popular juvenile novel, “The Young Marooners” and similar books, Francis R. Goulding like his father achieved eminence in the pulpit, filling many pastorates. In 1842, while visiting near Eatonton, he conceived the idea for a machine for sewing. While pastor of the Bath Presbyterian Church in Augusta, aided and encouraged by a friend, Judge Schley, he perfected his model, Meantime, Elias Howe of Massachusetts had secured a patent on a similar machine.

His first wife, Mary Wallace Howard of Savannah, was the first to sing Bishop Reginald Heber’s famous hymn, “`From Greenland’s Icy Mountains.” It was set to music by Dr. Lowell Mason, pastor of Savannah’s Independent Presbyterian Church, and dedicated to her. There were three Goulding children, Robert, Mary, and Frank.'


Anonymous said...

You forgot Andrew Jackson’s Big Block of Cheese with nary a macaroni in sight.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Oops! :-)