The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry: From Whitman to Walcott

Overview

Including the classics of the genre as well as rare period pieces by African Americans and women, and northern and southern patriotic verse and songs, The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry paints the background of the conflict and its literature in Richard Marius's renowned prose, with each poem introduced by a compelling vignette. What emerges is an unparalleled pageant of the war in all its power and sentimentality; the anger of its ...

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Overview

Including the classics of the genre as well as rare period pieces by African Americans and women, and northern and southern patriotic verse and songs, The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry paints the background of the conflict and its literature in Richard Marius's renowned prose, with each poem introduced by a compelling vignette. What emerges is an unparalleled pageant of the war in all its power and sentimentality; the anger of its participants and their yearning for peace.

Columbia University Press

Beautifully assembled by Richard Marius, the poetry here includes classic works by well-known poets, rare period pieces by African-Americans and women, and northern and southern patriotic verse and songs. An eloquent commemoration of the American Civil War. 53 photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

Louis P. Masur
This eye-opening collection illuminates the literary meanings and memory of the Civil War as well as key aspects of the place in poetry in American popular culture. The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry is a volume to be dipped into time and again by anyone who cherishes language and history.
Library Journal
Mingling the verse of the Civil War period with poems written since, this hefty commemorative volume displays the fervor, romanticism, horror, and sentimentality of an era when poets assumed the role of public intellectuals, when moral passion (James Madison Bell's "The pleasing duty still remains/To sing a people from their chains") and sad skepticism (Melville's "All wars are boyish, and are fought by boys") divided the national consciousness. Alongside generous amounts of Whitman, Melville, Whittier, and Dunbar are bombastic anthems, popular songs, and profiles of the famous. Of the modern pieces included, those by Muriel Rukeyser and Jane Kenyon are especially moving. The 53 photographs rarely upstage the poetry, and the editorial notes are informative, if opinionated ("this wretched poem must have been only slightly less painful than the battle itself"). In all, a broad, engaging portrait of a cataclysmic time that continues to haunt the American literacy psyche.-Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib.
School Library Journal
YA-A thematic compilation of poetry on the Civil War that includes period pieces, selections from modern poets, works by African Americans, and by men and women from both sides of the conflict. Marius sets the stage in an outstanding introduction with background information on the war, its aftermath, and its literature. He also prefaces each poem with a brief introduction that sets it in its historical perspective. This fascinating study of the Civil War through poetry will be useful for class projects in American history and American literature as well as general browsing.-Carol Clark, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Ray Olson
It was not his intention, principal editor Marius states, to put only certified masterpieces in this big, impressive anthology of verse inspired by the passions that led up to and the reflections that followed as well as the actual events and personages of the Civil War. Accordingly, popular songs ("Dixie," "Marching through Georgia," "My Maryland," etc.), several strictly occasional poems of less than sterling quality, and semi-anonymous newspaper verses appear alongside genuinely excellent poems. Both poems written at the time of the events they mark and others written long afterward, including quite recent ones (e.g., several of Andrew Hudgins' written in the voice of Confederate veteran and poet Sidney Lanier, whose own work is also represented) appear, and each poem is introduced by an informative and often piquantly opinionated note. Historic photographs illustrate, and Marius' general introduction very well explains the place of poetry in nineteenth-century America and highlights noteworthy themes and attitudes in Civil War verse. In all, a fine addition for American history as well as American literature collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231100021
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Pages: 543
  • Product dimensions: 8.27 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 1.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Marius, noted historian, novelist, and essayist, is the director of expository writing and senior lecturer in English at Harvard University. He is the author of several books, including a biography of Thomas More and most recently, the novel After the War.

Columbia University Press

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