(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The forty-sixth birthday of Sidney Lanier, 1842--February 3--1888"

A MEMORIAL 



O F 



SIDNEY LANIER 




THE 

FORTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY 

OF 

SIDNEY LANIER 



1842 FEBRUARY 3 1888 



There s rosemary that s for remembrance: and 
there is pansies that s for thoughts 



PUBLICATION AGENCT or THE JOHKS HOPKIWS UNIVERSIT* 

BALTIMORE 

1888 










3IHA.J Y3 






For the friends of Sidney Lanier, who met on 
his forty-sixth birthday to honor his memory, 
and for others who would gladly have been with 
them, this record is prepared. 



Oil! .Oiaum JqiT! 

INTRODUCTORY NOTE. 

^ 

ON the third of February, 1888, in the hall 
of the Johns Hopkins University where 
Sidney Lanier had lectured, a company of his 
friends assembled to bring their tributes of affec 
tion and admiration. 

In addition to the members of the University, 
many ladies and gentlemen from Baltimore were 
present, and not a few from distant places, 
Boston, New York, New Brunswick, Princeton, 
and Ithaca. Musicians came to represent the 
Peabody orchestra, in which for many years 
Lanier had played the flute. 

A bust of the poet, in bronze (modelled by 
Ephraim Keyser, sculptor, in the last period of 
Lanier s life, at the suggestion of Mr. J. E. Tait), 
was presented to the University by his kinsman, 
Charles Lanier, Esq., of New York. It was also 
announced that a citizen of Baltimore had offered 
a pedestal to be cut in Georgia marble from a 
design by Mr. J. B. N. Wyatt. On a temporary 
pedestal hung the flute of Lanier, which had so 
often been his solace, and a roll of his manu- 



6 



script music. The bust was crowned with a 
wreath of laurel ; words of Lanier, " The Time 
needs Heart," were woven into the strings of a 
floral lyre ; and other flowers, likewise brought 
by personal friends, were grouped around the 
pedestal. 

As a memento, a card, designed by Mrs. Henry 
Whitman of Boston, was given to those who were 
present. Upon its face was a wreath, with 
Lanier s name and the date, and the motto 
Aspiro dum Exspiro ; upon the reverse, appeared 
the closing lines of the Hymn of the Sun, taken 
from the poet s Hymns of the Marshes, and 
beneath, a flute with ivy twined about it. 



Ever by day shall my spirit, as one that hath tried thee, 
Labor, at leisure, in art, till yonder beside thee 
My soul shall float, friend Sun, 
The day being done. 



ORDER OF EXERCISES. 



Words of acknowledgment and introduction 
from Dr. Oilman, President of the University. 

ii. 

A tribute in verse from Mrs. Lawrence Turn- 
bull, read by Mr. E. G. Daves. 

in. 

Selections from Lanier s verses, read by Miss 
Susan H. Ward, of Newark, N. J. 

IV. 

A paper on the " Science of Verse," by Pro 
fessor Tolman, of Blpon College, Wisconsin, 
once a pupil of Lanier s, presented by Dr. W. 
Hand Browne. 

V. 

A bibliographical notice of Lanier, prepared 
by Mr. R. E. Burton, of Connecticut presented 
but not read. 



8 



VI. 

A sonnet to Sidney Lanier, by Mr. K. E. Bur 
ton, and a tribute in verse by Mr. James Cum- 
mings, of Tennessee, graduate students of the 
University. 

VII. 
Music. 



" The Ballad of the Trees and the Master," 
words by Sidney Lanier; music by "Francis 
Urban" (of Urbana, O.) 

"Love that hath us in the net," words by 
Tennyson ; music by Sidney Lanier. 

Singer: Miss Starr, accompanied by Mr. Har 
old Randolph. 

B. 

Air for Violin solo (from Bach s French Suite, 
D major). 

Violinist: Mr. Fritz Gaul; 
Pianist: Mr. Harold Eandolph. 

IX. 

A sonnet to Sidney Lanier, by Kev. Father 
Tabb, of St. Charles College, who shared the 
prison-life of Lanier in the recent civil war. 



X. 



Letters from Hon. James Russell Lowell, and 
Mr. Edmund C. Stednian, read by Dr. W. H. 
Ward, of New York, the biographer of Lanier. 



XI. 



A letter and a poem from Miss Edith M. 
Thomas, read by Mr. E. G. Daves. 



XII. 



A paper on the ethical influence of Lanier, 
prefaced with a brief address, by Dr. M. E. Gates, 
President of Rutgers College. 

XIII. 

A letter (associating Lanier with other poets 
that have lately died), from Mr. Richard W. 
Gilder, read by Dr. H. B. Adams. 

XIV. 
Music. 

A transcription by Liszt on themes by Han 
del, (from Almira], 

Pianist : Mr. Richard Burmeister. 



Ipocm0. 



To SIDNEY LANIER. 

By Rev. John B. Tabb, 
of St. Charles College, Md. 

The same blue-bending dome encanopies 

Thine ashes and the spark that kindles mine : 
Upon the selfsame bosom we recline, 

When with the wind the wave, land-lessening, 
dies, 

And twixt our souls the star-wrought mysteries 
Of Hope the sacred oracles divine 
Steadfast above the vault of darkness shine, 

To point the path benighted to the skies. 

For there, of dreams unsepulchred, and free 
" To face the vast sweet Visage, unafraid," 

That erst thy spirit reverenced to see 

In Nature s lowliest lineaments portrayed, 

Thou keepest watchful memory of me, 
A lingering phantom of the mortal shade. 



12 



To SIDNEY LANIER. 

By Richard Eugene Burton, A. ., 
of Connecticut. 

O fair frail singer, song that hushed o er-soon, 
Thy paths were paths of pain, yet shot with 

light, 
Than star-shine sweeter, than the sun more 

bright, 

And balmier than the blessed lady moon, 
For that it shone from holy heights ; a boon 
Glad-given by the gods for the delight 
Of poet-eyes that hail such healing sight, 
Of poet-hearts to God-gleams all atune. 
And now, the pain apast, we picture thee 
As pacing wider ways, having for mate 
Two kindred ones in bliss that s brotherly : 
Shelley and Keats, before disconsolate. 
The while on earth, thine eyes may ever see 
Souls shapened by thy song to high estate. 






13 



THE STRANGER S INVOCATION 
BEFORE THE BUST OF LANIER. 

By James Cummings, A. M., of Tennessee. 

Chorister, look down upon me till this bronzed 

fancy soften, 
Till the entranced face wake to bless me with 

a happy friendship s birth ; 
Till the luminous eyes shall hold me as kind 

eyes that watch me often, 
Till you seem unknown no more in heaven to 
me unknown on earth. 

Had your face the unspoken answers of the 

friend that I would make you ? 
Was the breathing man impassioned with the 

body of my dream, 
Like your music just the promise of yourself 

which made men take you 
As that minstrel who would only sing the 
being he could seem ? 

Is it now too long a quiet since your last soft 

breath was taken, 

Here to hope for salutation from that lordly 
soul of song ? 



14 



Must I smother my desire to see a tender smile 

awaken, 

And the poet s head nod gently to the dream- 
enchanted throng ? 

Is the chance of knowing finished by the one 

short turn of dying, 
While the lapsing years fit sadly here to bring 

to us our own ? 
If I spoke your name out warmly towards the 

vastness there outlying 

Would your spirit for an answer turn a little 
from the Throne ? 

Why should men decry the human? Would 

your soul enjoy disowning 
That large heart which nursed its fever into 

such inspiring flame ? 
All the body s throbs of feeling, in the laughter 

and the moaning- 

Do you scorn the lost mortality, yet own the 
song and name ? 

We have saved the happy music, but have lost 

the poet s passion. 

We have tokens of the pageant, but the hero 
has gone by. 



15 



They have fixed the dreamer s vision here in 

loving deathless fashion 
Oh ! for one swift greeting movement of the 
living poet s eye. 

Have we lost the best, our poet, we who never 

even saw you, 

Ere like some strange star you vanished, ra 
diant wonder to man s eye, 
Never heard you voice the music of the beauty 

that could draw you 

Far above ignoble fretting, till you half forgot 
to sigh ? 

Did you give your years all joyfully, a musical 

surrender, 
Just a breathing in of heaven s air to carol it 

away? 

Heart beneficent and generous, a gracious spirit- 
lender, 

Glad to make the winds your messengers to 
solace with your lay. 

For we think so; and we wonder what more 

passion would be given 
To the treasures you have left us, had we seen 
you face to face ? 



16 



Not to hold you mutely, blindly in a friend s 

forbearance shriven, 

But to attune your song s recital to the soul 
that gave it grace. 

Did you ever yield your presence to the lyric s 

warmest wooing? 
Ever lay your pale cheek gently on the bosom 

of an ode? 
Did you e er give over lovingly such favor 

never ruing 

To the keeping of the Symphony, your heart 
and all its load ? 

In the open of your pages, banners waving, 

trumpets blowing, 
You were taken as a hostage for the world s 

sublimer sway ; 
And to strange far courts of fantasy a princely 

singer going, 

Still you sang of home and sorrows, laureate 
lover far away. 

All the music you set ringing has its breathing 

pauses in it ; 

And your heart had chimes that sounded on 
the while your voice was still. 



17 



We aspire to catch the cadence too, but how 

shall we begin it, 

We who lack your spirit s echo, and who 
want the minstrel s will ? 

There is something after song, some little trill 

that starts and falters, 
Some quick overflow of changing tears that 

words can never hold : 
If we find this surest witness, silent by the soul s 

good altars, 

We shall know the singer best by what the 
song could not unfold. 

Though I sing and sing again your song, and 

praise and hear men praise you, 
I shall sing it all expectantly till some pro- 
founder voice 
Wake and join the strain with fullest power, 

and in its climax raise you 
On the words into my heart. So shall I know 
you and rejoice. 



18 



IN MEMORIAM. 
SIDNEY LANIER, DIED SEPTEMBER 7, 1881. 

By Mrs. Francese E. Turnbull, 
of Baltimore. 

I. 

"God taught him" aye, that wondrous, won 
drous thing,* 

The knowledge of all beauteous holiness, to love, 
To worship and to sing. 
So lived he nobly his own poet-creed, 
" The holiness of beauty," as he sweetly said, 
So married burning thought and gracious deed, 
And holy effort in his chivalrous life, 
With wondrous gentleness, as one that answereth 
With fair life pages to some sweet ideal, he came 

to teach. 

So ye that knew him gather tenderly 
This fragrance of his life, his thought, his 

speech, 

And write upon your souls the graciousness 
Of holiness that passeth speech. 

* " God taught him that thing he did " ; the words of his faith 
ful colored servant. 



19 



ii. 

" God taught him " aye, that love of man for 

man, 

That joyed in all sweet possibilities : that faith 
Which hallowed love and life ; 
Methinks the angels cannot turn away 
From our imperfect strivings while we feebly 



" Wring harmonies, oh God, from mortal strife." 
So he, Heaven-taught in his large-heartedness, 
Smiled with his spirit s eyes athwart the veil 
That human loves too oft keep closely drawn 
Nor waited for his knowledge till the Dawn. 
So hearts leaped up to breathe his freer atmo 

sphere, 

And eyes smiled truer for his radiance clear, 
And souls grew loftier where his teachings fell, 
And all gave love. Ah me ! and were it well 
That such an one should be so soon withdrawn 
From fields that need his culture? Yet the 

Master knew 
His finished work. And we are blind ; we can 

not know. 

Ah friends ! ah mourning ones who loved him so, 
Be we as true. 



20 



in. 

" God taught him." Aye, the patience and the 
smile 

Which glossed his pain ; the courtesy ; 

The sweet quaint thoughts which gave his poema 
birth ; 

His love of the green earth ; 

His echoes from that silent spirit-land, 

Which souls afar can scantly understand ; 

His winning tenderness with souls perplexed ; 

His grasp of questions vexed ; 

His love of "good great man" ; his eagerness 

For lofty converse, and his joy of books ; 

His oneness with all master-minds ; 

His thirst for lore ; his gratitude 

For that the Lord had made the earth so good ! 

His fellowship with thoughts that angels bring 

In wakeful dreams, perchance, or the sweet min 
istering 

Of baby hands and love, and wifely tenderness ; 

God granted him to know the blessedness, 

And sing the dearness, that all hearts might know 

God loves His children whom He blesses so 

With taste of Heaven ! 



IV. 

" God taught him" aye, the poet-teacher knew, 

His mission was of God : he knew 

God s love could clear the shadow from created 
things 

Men needed not to grieve. So flowed 

His " velvet flute-note " forth in luminous 
melody ; 

The chords of his pure life welled up in rhap 
sody 

*To chant dear Beauty s holiness. And while he 
sings 

Where God hath called him, in our h carter 
alway 

He singeth of God s Day. 



22 

SIDNEY LANIER. 
By Miss Edith M. Thomas. 

INTRODUCTORY NOTE. 
To (he friends of Sidney Lanier at Johns Hopkins University : 

Having only yesterday received your invitation to 
attend the gathering in memory of the poet, I still wish 
in some way to express ray appreciation of your thus 
honoring me, and yet more to cast in some tribute to 
his gracious genius. The quoted fragment of his own 
lovely verse, coming to my mind this morning, furnishes 
the motive for the enclosed villanelle now subject to 
your order. 

E. M. T. 

Geneva, Ohio, February 1, 1888. 



" On the Paradise side of the River of Death. 

The River flows, how softly flows 

(The one bank green, the other sere), 
How sweet the wind that hither blows. 

Its breath is from the blightless rose, 

Its voice, from lips of leal and dear 
The River flows, how softly flows. 






23 

Beyond, in dreams the spirit goes, 

And finds each lost and lovely peer 
How sweet the wind that hither blows. 

Brief while the gleaming vista shows 

A singing throng withdrawn from here 
The River flows, how softly flows. 

There mounts the winged song, there glows 

The ardor white, of rare Lanier 
How sweet the wind that hither blows. 

His voice rang fearless to the close, 

He sang Death s Cup with cordial cheer 
The River flows, how softly flows ; 
How sweet the wind that hither blows. 



letters* 




DEERFOOT FARM, January 29, 1888. 

Dear President Oilman, 

If I could, I would gladly join you in your 
tribute of respect and affection to the late Sid 
ney Lanier. He was not only a man of genius 
with a rare gift for the happy word, but had in 
him qualities that won affection and commanded 
respect. I had the pleasure of seeing him but 
once, when he called on me (in more gladsome 
days) at Elmwood, but the image of his shining 
presence is among the friendliest in my memory. 
I wish I could be with you to pay a part of my 
debt, but it is impossible. 

Faithfully yours, 

J. E. LOWELL. 



44 EAST 26TH STREET, 

NEW YORK, January 28, 1888. 

My dear President Oilman, 

I regret that unfulfilled duties here, and pres 
sing engagements at this season, compel me 



26 



to deny myself the satisfaction of being with 
you in the memorial gathering, at which Key- 
ser s bust of the late Sidney Lanier will be 
offered to the Johns Hopkins University. 

The marked poetic instinct, which governs 
Mr. Keyser in all his work, doubtless has secured 
for you a preservation of the expression, as well 
as of the material likeness, of Lanier s striking 
features. 

It is a fine thing that such an institution as 
your University should have its shrines and 
among them that of its own poet, in a certain 
sense canonized, and with his most ideal mem 
ory a lasting part of its associations. 

I have spoken, in a book where much atten 
tion was devoted to Lanier s genius and works, 
of his "early death," and of its having pre 
vented the completion of his "ultimate design." 
Lanier s sensibility, taste, exquisite sense of 
beauty, made him on one side resemble Keats 
and Shelley, yet he lived fourteen years longer 
than Keats, and ten years longer than Shelley, 
and the amount of his printed remains is notably 
smaller than that which each of them left behind. 
But those poets sang and wrote without an ulti 
mate design of the kind to which I refer. He 



27 



conceived of a method, and of compositions, 
which could only be achieved by the effort of a 
life extended to man s full term of years. The 
little that he was able to do belonged to the very 
outset of a large, synthetic work ; he did little 
more than to sound a few important bars of his 
overture. In this sense he died early, but did 
not die without leaving his idea behind him 
out of which something fine may yet grow. He 
staked his purpose on the hope and chance of 
time for its execution, but Dis aliter visumf 
Very sincerely yours, 

EDMUND C. STEDMAN. 



Editorial Department, The Century Magazine. 
NEW YORK, January 5, 1888. 

My dear Dr. Oilman, 

I thank you very much for thinking of me 
in connection with the Sidney Lanier birthday 
commemoration on the 3d of February, though 
I feel totally unable to say anything that will 
add to the intimate knowledge and generous 
appreciation of Lanier in your community. It 



28 



is borne in upon me with terrible force that 
within a few years we have lost, in this country, 
some of our most genuine poets in the very 
height of their power. Here in New York we 
have but just come from the death-bed of our 
friend and fellow-worker, Emma Lazarus a 
poet snatched away almost at the beginning of 
a splendid and most beneficent career. Some 
time before, news came of the death of Edward 
Rowland Sill, a singer of profound purpose and 
thrilling tone. Before that, Helen Jackson 
sang her own brave death-chant ; but of the new 
group of American poets Lanier was the first to 
pass into the land that the living call " silent." 
To the eyes of those who see as we mortals 
must see, the cutting short of these four lives, 
so full of the " beauty of holiness," so earnest, 
so heroic, so inspiring, so divinely musical, 
was in every case a tragedy, not only a per 
sonal but also a national loss. In Lanier s case 
the tragedy was intensified by the painful expe 
riences of those last years, and by the extraordi 
nary promise of his verse. Some of his poetic 
work was experimental, not fully and restfully 
accomplished, though always with gleams here 
and there from the very " Heaven of song." As 



29 



his methods and ideas matured there was reason 
to expect a more rounded, sustained, and satis 
fying art. And every now and then there crys 
tallized in his intense and musical mind a lyric 
of such diamond-like strength and lustre that it 
can no more be lost from the diadem of English 
song than can the lyrics of Sidney or of Herbert. 
Yes, with each dead singer it is a tragic and 
eternal deprivation and yet all have left songs 
that will be cherished by their countrymen. I 
know you will not be sorry that I have named 
others in naming him, I feel assured that each 
would wish to be remembered when one is re 
called. Your way of endeavoring to perpetuate 
the impression made upon you individually by 
the poet and by his work will not only accom 
plish its direct object, but will also encourage 
others who in the midst of a sordid world are 
trying to keep alive the harshly blown upon 
and flickering flame of the ideal. 

Very sincerely yours, 

KICHARD W. GILDER. 



n tbe jetbical flnfluence 
of Xamer. 

By MERRILL E. GATES, Ph. D., 
President of Rutgers College. 

President Oilman said : " Two or three days 
ago a letter came from one who wrote, in response 
to our invitation, among all those friends who 
knew Lanier I doubt if any will be present who 
love him more truly than do I who never saw 
him. But the writer of that letter is here to 
day, and I shall ask him to say to you what he 
will, or himself to read the letter he had written. 
I introduce to you President Merrill E. Gates, 
of Kutgers College." 

President Gates said : 

You ask me, President Gilman, to read what 
I had written you ; and I willingly comply with 
your wish, because it gives me the pleasure of 
looking into the faces of these friends, so many 
of whom knew and loved Sidney Lanier. And 
I am the more ready to say a few words here, 
because both last night and on the evening be- 



32 



fore I was present in a circle of intelligent and 
sympathetic men and women who were deeply 
interested in Lanier and desirous to know him 
better. Last night, in Brooklyn, a hundred and 
fifty men and women who love good literature 
were assembled to listen to some account of 
Lanier s life and a criticism of his poetry. The 
circle of his admirers grows slowly but surely. 
He finds his own ! 

As the bell struck twelve last night, ushering 
in Lanier s birthday, Mr. Stedman whose letter 
has just been read, was speaking with me of 
Lanier. He said of Lanier some more tender 
and appreciative words than I have elsewhere 
known him to say, discriminating yet affection 
ate. But he also expressed the thought which 
he has given us in this letter. He spoke of the 
fact that Lanier, from the wide scope of his ideas 
and the far-reaching comprehensiveness of his 
ideals in art, had planned for himself a work 
which it would have required half a century of 
life to complete. But death cut him off. The re 
sult seemed sadly incomplete. To which I could 
only make reply : But what nobler or truer ser 
vice can an artist render to his age and to all 
time than Lanier has done in thus laying off for 



33 



us in his life, be its years many or few, a perfect 
arc that reveals to us the far-reaching, compre 
hensive sweep of the great circles that include 
all beauty, span the whole universe of thought 
and art, and show us in outline the full sphere 
of beauty, holiness, and truth. 

So I hold our poet s life a perfect piece of 
living, incomplete although it may appear. 

How you who knew him here, loved him ! 
How his influence still pervades the literary 
studies of the University ! The letters and poems 
just read show us in how many directions his 
helpful power is felt. I have sometimes thought 
that there is no truer contemporaneous test of 
the power of a poet than that which is found 
in the degree to which he lays hold upon the 
hearts and the minds of the young men of his 
age. That of beauty and truth which the com 
ing generation need, to live by, the young men 
feel and know by a subtle spirit of the future 
that pervades their souls, though often older 
men may fail to perceive its presence or to sus 
pect its potency. The two poems which we have 
just heard read by young men of the University 
show us how powerfully Lanier appeals to young 
men. 



34 



" His love of men was wonderful ! After all 
has been said of the needs of our time, I ques 
tion whether any one has had a truer vision of 
the deepest need of our time, in these years of 
social unrest and blind yearning "to make richer 
and fuller" the lives of the many, than had our 
poet when he wrote "The Symphony," and in 
the heart of it set the words which loving hands 
have written here to-day in flowers on the lyre 
that typifies his song " The Time needs 
Heart ! " 

I loved him ; and his words found me as have 
the words of no other poet of our time. 

To read what I had written seems almost too 
formal now, since we have looked into each 
other s faces in the presence of this nobly ex 
pressive bust of the Poet, and, while his own 
flute is eloquent here in its silence, have listened 
together to the music he wrote and to music he 
loved. 

But as my words were written from a definite 
point of view other than that of the friend, I 
will read the words I had sent to you. 

As a teacher of Ethics, working among the 
young men of America, I give thanks for the 
life and writings of Sidney Lanier. 



35 



By heredity, by endowment, by training, 
artist in every fibre of his organism and in every x" 1 
aspiration and impulse of his soul, Lanier yet v 
kept touch with the men of his time, in the P* 
science that interests the schools and in the social^), 
questions that color the life of our generation^ 
His writings throb with an all-embracing love _^^ 
for his fellow-men, for all that has life, and for 
the entire universe of order and beauty which 
to his artist-eye and heart was not only the han 
diwork but also the very shrine of that Creative 
Life Who has called into being and consciously 
sustains it all. Yet no one has held more 
firmly to the clear intuition of a self-determining 
personality in every man, owing steadfast, cour 
ageous fealty to moral law. Thus there is about 
his figure, youthful as he was, a dignity and a 
severity such as must always attend the prophet 
and priest of holiness. 

God s touch set the starry splendor of genius 
upon his soul ! As the years wheel into centu 
ries, the stars to which men s eyes are oftenest 
raised for guidance and in aspiration from our 
restless, changing world, are those which hold a 
place nearest the unchanging pole. Lanier s 
place in "the literature of enduring power" is 



36 



secure, fast by that pole of the true in thought, 
the noble and the beautiful in deed, round which 
our life revolves. 

To an age tainted by an unhealthy " aestheti- 
cism," and a debauching "realism," which sees 
in vice and uncleanness only new fields for the 
artist s powers of description, and no call for the 
artist s divine powers of denunciation to save 
young men into whose ears is dinned the maxim, 
"Art for art s sake only" "A moral purpose 
ruins art," Lanier came, noble-souled as Mil 
ton in youthful consciousness of power, yet hum 
ble before the august conception of a moral purity 
higher than he could hope to utter or attain, 
discerning with a true poet s insight " the beauty 
of holiness " and " the holiness of beauty." 









Hauler s Science of 
\Derse, 

By Professor ALBERT H. TOLMAN, 
Of Ripon College, Wisconsin. 

Let any man read some representative poem 
from the writings of SAvinburne, one which 
fairly carries him away by the richness of its 
rhythm and the melody of its sounds. He will 
say : " This poet sometimes lacks clearness of 
expression ; sometimes, nobility of thought ; but 
he has a marvellous command of the purely for 
mal elements of English verse." Let that man 
now turn to the works upon English versification 
that preceded Sidney Lanier s " Science of Eng 
lish Verse " and seek to find a careful analysis 
and exposition of those qualities of Swinburne s 
poetry which have charmed his own ear. He 
will search in vain. So far from finding those 
qualities explained, he will not find them even 
recognized. If he chances upon the writings of 
Lanier s brother-Baltimoreans, Edgar A. Poe 
and Professor Sylvester, he will get some real 
light. Elsewhere he will find not " light, but 
darkness visible." 



38 



The ignorance concerning the nature of Eng 
lish verse which Lanier found to prevail was of 
no ordinary kind. It was a scientific ignorance, 
in the sense that it had been reduced to a science. 
It had classified and labeled all the multitude 
of phenomena which it did not understand. It 
talked learnedly of trochees, and anapaests, and 
amphibrachs, and hypercatalecticism. It had 
developed rules for the making of verse, and the 
smallest one of these had exceptions enough to 
fill a volume. It had all the form of sound 
knowledge, "but denying the power thereof." 

The students of this strange pseudo-science 
stood ready to frown down any intruder who 
should bring in a ray of common sense to light 
up their darkness, by telling him, " My dear Sir, 
you ignore all the accepted principles of English 
prosody." With all his gift for hyperbole, Poe 
hardly overstates the case when he says, con 
cerning the theory of versification, "There is, 
perhaps, no topic in polite literature which has 
been more pertinaciously discussed ; and there 
is certainly not one about which so much inac 
curacy, confusion, misconception, misrepresenta 
tion, mystification, and downright ignorance on 
all sides, can be fairly said to exist." 






39 



Inborn delicacy of hearing and long training 
fitted Lanier for the task of investigating Eng 
lish verse. Quietly disregarding the learned 
rubbish that had accumulated, he studied our 
verse as a set of present phenomena of the world 
of sound. He listened, and listened to the very 
thing itself, the sound-groups concerning which 
he wished to learn. He gathered his facts care 
fully, he verified and arranged them, until the 
great laws which underlie the phenomena stood 
out clear and unmistakable. These laws he then 
set forth in language which is as severely accu 
rate as if he had never penned a line of poetry, 
as if all flights of imagination were utterly dis 
tasteful to him. 

This statement of Lanier s method of study 
sets aside the objections that some of his histori 
cal illustrations are incorrectly interpreted, and 
that lie has paid no attention to the work of 
some careful students of the history of English 
verse. Lanier sought to explain English verse 
as a present fact. There is a school of philolo- 
gians which says, " Observe carefully the facts 
of the formation and growth of language as it 
exists to-day. Then you will have the means 
for understanding substantially all that we shall 



40 



ever know of its formation and development in 
all ages." If Lanier has accurately analysed 
and interpreted English verse as it exists to-day, 
then he has given us the laws that will explain 
to us at least the greater part of all that we shall 
ever know concerning the nature of that verse 
in all the periods of its existence. 

The first and longest division of the Science 
of English Verse contains a complete treatment 
of the subject of verse-rhythm. Lanier con 
siders rhythm in verse to be the marking off to 
the ear by the accent of equal intervals of time ; 
hence verse-rhythm is essentially the same thing 
as rhythm in music, and all other rhythm. 

In this broad position it seems to me that 
Lanier is unquestionably right. His demon 
stration may need to be modified in some par 
ticulars ; it will never be overthrown. We 
shall still hear that " accent and not quantity 
is the governing principle of English verse " ; 
but we shall hear less of this as time goes on. 
Astronomy and astrology were long cultivated 
side by side. So long as man s heart-beats are 
separated by equal intervals, he will never dis 
tribute accents without reference to time. If 
anyone really wishes to hear such sound-anar- 



41 



chy, let him touch off a bunch of Chinese fire 
crackers. 

The rhythm of our verse, however, does not 
always attain to the exactness of the rhythm of 
music. Lanier s musical bent is seen in the fact 
that he treats the rhythmical accent of verse 
almost as if it were a thing independent of 
every-day accent. In rendering music we add 
accent to musical sounds : in reading poetry we 
find it in spoken sounds ; it is a new function, 
simply, of the accent of common speech. La 
nier s own poetical genius was distinctly lyrical. 
Pie was in a special sense, a singer. His most 
representative verse-form was the grand lyric, 
especially the Ode, with its vast resonance and 
complex harmony. Lyric poetry is that form 
of verse which is most nearly allied to music in 
the exactness and the prominence of its rhythm. 
Lanier, perhaps, had a tendency to look upon 
English verse as lyric verse. In free blank-verse 
I think that not so much of the expression is 
committed to the rhythm; the words have a 
substantive, an independent meaning, which the 
separate tones of a piece of music do not have, 
and which the words of a lyric poem do not have 
in the same degree relative to the demands of 



42 



the rhythm. To this independent meaning of 
the words, the rhythm of free blank-verse often 
seems slightly to defer. Hence we have frequent 
omissions of the rhythmical accent even in bars 
that are filled with sound, frequent displacements 
of the accent, and a bewildering variety of equi 
valent forms of the bar; and even the funda 
mental rhythm itself, which is clearly heard 
through all interruptions, is not marked off to 
the ear with the same exactness as in lyric 
verse. Still, so far as this takes place, it is an 
escape from rhythm ; and it cannot be carried 
far in good verse. Lanier has stated the norm, 
the great basal principle governing verse-rhythm. 

In the second and third divisions of the book, 
The Tunes of English Verse and The Colors of 
English Verse, the treatment is clear, sound, and 
strikingly suggestive. All must regret that 
Lanier did not live to investigate these topics 
more fully. 

The late Professor E. K. Sill, a life-long stu 
dent and teacher of English poetry, a judicious 
critic, and a rare poet, said of this book, " It is 
the only work that has ever made any approach 
to a rational view of the subject. Nor are the 
standard ones overlooked in making this asser 
tion." 



43 



The book is clear and explicit everywhere. 
We follow its pages, instantly accepting or ques 
tioning every statement ; and we forget how rare 
such precision and perspicuity are, and how dif 
ficult of attainment. The contrast is complete 
between this work and the cuneiform inscrip 
tions which have passed for expositions of Eng 
lish verse. 

Perhaps no feature of the book is more admi 
rable than the thoroughness with which Lanier 
maps out the field. This makes it possible for 
others to supplement his work, to build upon 
his foundation. Merely as a logical exercise, it 
would be well if every young student could read 
the opening chapter, "The Investigation of 
Sound as Artistic Material." 

I do not care to dwell upon those details in 
this work concerning which there may be dif 
ferences of opinion. I prefer to recall the delight 
with which I read the book twice through on 
its appearance, and felt for the first time that I 
had solid ground under my feet in the study of 
English verse. I gratefully acknowledge my 
personal indebtedness to this book. 

The scientific precision of Lanier s treatment 
of his subject and the relentlessness with which 



44 



he follows every proposition out to its logical 
conclusions, are a new illustration of the truth 
that a really great poet must have an orderly, a 
scientific mind. Only such a mind is thoroughly 
fitted for that higher form of rationality, poetic 
inspiration. 

We commonly conceive of a great poet most 
inadequately. Milton has told us that large 
powers, wide knowledge, long training, and 
" devout prayer " should all be found united in 
such a one, and that he who would sing well 
"ought himself also to be a true poem." The 
mental and the moral sanity of Sidney Lanier 
his ample knowledge, his trained intellect, 
his passion for holiness were the indispensable 
conditions and an essential part of his poetic 
greatness. 

We easily look upon the Science of English 
Verse as something standing apart from Lanier s 
life-work. He did not so regard it. It was the 
foundation, broad and deep, on which he was to 
build a mighty Temple of Song, for the delight 
of man and the glory of God. Of that Temple 
he fashioned one portal, fair, chaste, and strong. 
And then just as his fingers, now grown fully 
deft, eagerly grasped the mallet and chisel ; just 



45 



as the firm stone seemed fairly pliant to his 
touch ; just as the grateful appreciation of his 
fellow-men, long delayed, swelled to a chorus ; 
then 

" God s finger touched him, and he slept." 



IRoticee 

OF THE 

MEMORIAL MEETING. 



[From Tlie Critic, New York, February 11, 1888.] 

A LANIER MEMORIAL. 

Some months ago there sprang up spontaneously in 
the hearts of a few of the friends of the late Sidney La 
mer, resident in Baltimore and elsewhere, a desire to 
commemorate his forty-sixth birthday. The idea origi 
nated with that circle of friends which is gathered about 
the Johns Hopkins University, where the poet-scholar 
received recognition and encouragement, and served as 
lecturer in English Literature in 1879-80. A bust of 
Lanier was modelled during the latter part of his life by 
Ephraim Keyser, the sculptor, then of Baltimore and now 
of New York, who caused it to be cast in bronze at Borne. 
A kinsman of the poet, Mr. Charles Lanier of New York, 
soon signified his wish to present this bust to the Uni 
versity ; another friend expressed his appreciation of the 
movement by offering a pedestal for the bust, wrought 
in Georgia marble, and designed by Mr. J. Noel Wyatt of 
Baltimore. Still others showed their eagerness to con 
tribute to the occasion by expressions of their love and 
esteem in verse and prose, or by the rendition of music 
that art which was so dear to the musician-poet whose 
genius they sought to commemorate. The outcome of 



48 



this feeling and action was the gathering held in Hopkins 
Hall of the University, at four o clock on the afternoon 
of Friday last, February 3. About one hundred and fifty 
friends and fellow-spirits, representing both the Faculty 
and students of the University, and the best culture of 
the city, were present , by special invitation. One of the 
pleasantest features of the day was the presence of Mrs. 
Lanier and her two sons. 

In the centre of the platform stood the bust, backed by 
tropical plants and based by flowers and ferns, the head 
bearing a laurel wreath in true poet fashion. From the 
front of the pedestal hung Lanier s flute, used by him 
when a member of the Peabody Orchestra; and this was 
crossed by a manuscript roll of his own music. To the 
right on a small desk rested a harp of roses, pinks, and 
smilax, with the inscription, "The Time needs heart," 
a quotation from his poem, " The Symphony." The exer 
cises were opened with a few fitting words from President 
Oilman. He said : " This is the birthday of a poet ; this 
is the jubilee of a poet. Years have passed since his 
death, but his fame is growing brighter and our love for 
him dearer and truer. Most of what you will hear to-day 
will bo from the lips of poets ; to me alone falls the prose, 
as I call to your notice what is to come. Here is rose 
mary for remembrance, here are pansies for thought. " 
Dr. Oilman then introduced Mr. Edward G. Daves, who 
read a poem written by Mrs. Laurence Turnbull of Bal 
timore. Miss Ward, sister of Dr. Ward of The Independent, 
followed with selections from Lanier s published poems, 
reading with much expression and delicacy of interpreta 
tion. Dr. Browne, Librarian of the University, followed 
with quotations from a critical paper on Lauier s book, 
"The Science of English Verse," by Professor Tolnian, 



49 



of Ripon College, Wisconsin, formerly a student of Johns 
Hopkins, and under Lanier. Mr. Richard E. Burton and 
Mr. James Cummings of the University then read poems 
of their own, called out by their reverence and love for the 
singer. At this point there was music, Lanier s poem, 
" The Ballade of the Trees and the Master," set to music by 
" Francis Urban," being sung by Miss Starr of the Pea- 
body Conservatory. Miss Starr also read Tennyson s 
"Love that hath us in the net," to music by Lanier. 
This was followed by an air of Bach s for violin solo, Mr. 
Fritz Gaul, first violin of the Peabody Orchestra, being 
the soloist. 

After the music, President Gilman introduced the Rev. 
Father John B. Tabb, of St. Charles College, Maryland, 
well known as a writer of verse and a fellow-prisoner of 
Lanier s during the War, who gave the audience an ori 
ginal sonnet inspired by the death of his friend. Men 
tioning the fact that he had just received a letter from 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, expressing his sympathy with 
the memorial, but of too private a character to read, Dr. 
Gilman introduced Dr. William Hayes Ward of New 
York, who read letters from J. R. Lowell and E. C. Sted- 
man, felicitously characterizing Lanier s character and 
place as a poet. A beautiful poem contributed by Miss 
Edith M. Thomas, of which the motif was Lanier s line, 
" The paradise-side of the river of death," was then pre- 
sented by Mr. Daves, whose rich voice lent a deep mean 
ing to its tender and melodious refrain. Dr. Gates, 
President of Rutgers College, had written a long letter 
for the occasion, but unexpectedly was present, and 
therefore supplemented his own written words by others 
spoken from a full heart and showing a keen apprecia 
tion of the Southern -singer s place and mission among 



50 



men-of-letters. Dr. Adams, Professor of History in the 
University, was called on to read a long letter from the 
pen of Mr. R. W. Gilder, of The Century, in which refer 
ence was made to the fourfold and great loss the country 
had sustained in the untimely taking-off of Emma Laza 
rus, E. R. Sill, Helen Hunt and Sidney Lanier. The 
exercises then closed with more music, Prof. Richard 
Burmeister, pianist at the Peabody, playing a transcrip 
tion by Liszt on themes by Handel. 

As the audience left the Hall, they were handed taste 
fully designed memorial cards, the contribution of Mrs. 
Henry Whitman of Boston. The face of the card bore a 
laurel wreath, beneath which in gilt lettering were the 
words : " Presentation of the bust of Sidney Lanier to 
the Johns Hopkins University, February 3, 1888, the 
forty-sixth birthday of the poet." Below this was the 
motto : Aspiro dum Exspiro. The reverse bore, above a 
flute twined with ivy, the last words of Lanier s poem, 
"Sunrise": 

Ever by day shall my spirit, as one that hath tried thee. 
Labor, at leisure, in art, till yonder beside thee 
My soul shall float, friend Sun, 
The day being done. 

In all the exercises of the day there was a warmth, an 
atmosphere of sympathy, that was as stimulating and 
delightful as it is rare ; and all whose privilege it was to 
be present departed with a sense of having snatched from 
the workaday world an ideal hour; an hour therefore 
fitly commemorating one who was and is so unique 
and shining an exponent of spiritual Truth and Beauty, 
in his life, his work, and his song. R. E. B. 



51 



[From The Nation, New York, February 9, 1888.] 

The forty-sixth birthday of Sidney Lanier, the Southern 
poet and musician, was celebrated in Baltimore on Feb 
ruary 3 by a company of his personal friends and asso 
ciates. It is nearly seven years since he died, and his 
fame appears to be constantly increasing as the ideal of 
his aspirations is more clearly discerned. He has never 
been a "popular" poet perhaps he never will be. To 
some minds he appears obscure ; to some he seems like a 
poet of another age discoursing on modern themes ; to 
others and this number is growing he seems a poet of 
the future, the herald of better things to come from the 
pens of those who are inspired by the ideas that animated 
him. Whatever may be his ultimate position, the cele 
bration in Baltimore shows that his life and writings 
have already made a strong impression on a large num 
ber of gifted and earnest minds. The immediate occasion 
of the assembly was the presentation of a likeness of the 
poet to the Johns Hopkins University. The sculptor, 
Ephraim Keyser, now at work on the Arthur monument, 
modelled the bust during Lanier s life, and caused it to 
be cast in bronze. When a kinsman of the poet, Mr. 
Charles Lanier of New York, heard of the existence of 
this work of art, he generously gave it to the University 
in which Lanier had been a lecturer. A citizen of Bal 
timore offered the pedestal. To receive the gift, a com 
pany of perhaps one hundred and fifty persons assembled 
in the hall where the poet had read his lectures on the 
Growth of the Novel, English Literature, and on the 
Science of Verse. There stood the bust crowned with 
laurel ; on the pedestal hung his flute ; at the base was 
a bed of flowers. Musicians representing the Peabody 



52 

Orchestra, in which for years Lanier had played the 
flute, took part in the exercises. One of his musical 
compositions, adapted to words of Tennyson s, and one 
of his own poems, which a friend had set to music, were 
sung. Miss Ward, sister of Earner s biographer, read 
selections from his poems. Father Tabb, a Catholic priest 
who had shared with Lanier the privations of prison life 
during the civil war, read a sonnet in commemoration 
of his friend ; another sonnet came from Richard E. Bur 
ton of Connecticut, and longer poems from Mrs. TurnbuU 
of Baltimore and James Cummings of Tennessee. Just 
before the hour of the meeting, the mail brought some 
exquisite lines from Miss Edith M. Thomas, which, like 
the poems already mentioned, were read aloud. Profes 
sor Tolman of Eipon College, once a pupil of Lanier s, 
contributed a critical estimate of his "Science of Verse," 
and Mr. Burton prepared a list of printed articles and 
poems, some thirty in number, which have appeared 
since Lanier s death, many of them by writers of dis 
tinction. President Gates of Rutgers College spoke in 
words of affectionate admiration of the ethical influence 
of Lanier s character and life. Many interesting letters 
were received, and three of them, those of Lowell, Richard 
W. Gilder, and Edmund C. .Stedraan, were read. Finally, 
as a choice memento of the hour, a card, designed and 
given by Mrs. Whitman of Boston, was offered to every 
one of the company. Upon one side of the card were 
a wreath of laurels, the name and date, and the words 
"Aspiro dura Exspiro," and on the other side the lines 
with which Lanier closed his hymn to the Sun, in the 
first of the "Hymns of the Marshes." 



3Biblioijrapb\\ 

Bv Rithan} E. B*Ha*. 



LANIER S PUBLISHED WORKS. 

Tteer Lilies: a norel, New York, 18C7. 

Poem?. Philadelphia, 1876, 94 pfwOfc- 

florida: its scenery, climate, and history, Phfladdpfcim, 

1877; reTised edition, Philadelphia, 1881. 
Tt e English Novel and the Principle of its 



fldeoee of English Terse, New York, 18S. a 
The Boys labrarr of Legend and ChiTalrr, 4 Tolumea, 
I . 1884 [comprises "The SOT S King Arthor,- 

u Knightly Legends of Wales," formerly known as 

The Boy s Mabinogkm " ; The Boy s Froissart"; 

"The Boy s Percy."] 
Poems: edited by his wife, with a memorial *y W* 

Hayes Want New York, ISM, XB pp^ 12o; TVe 

same, second edition, 188S. 



(The maflsaiM articles named betov are worthy of note). 
The Orchestra ofT(*lay. Ariimar , Jfc^Ujr,VoLl9 t p.897, 

MBA 

TheNewSooth. SrHfrm^* JfMU^, VoL 28. p. 43ft, UBtL 
Moral Purpose in Art. He Ckmhtry JfafMim, ToL 4, p. 

131, 138*. 
Katare-Metafhon. Jtten> Jfsjaiiai, Febroary, 1871. 



54 



Retrospects and Prospects. Southern Magazine, 1871. 
San Antonio de Bexar. Southern Magazine, July- August, 

1873. 

Peace. Southern Magazine, October, 1874. 
Five Sketches of India. Published anonymously in 

Lippincotfs Magazine, between December, 1875, and 

April, 1876. 
The Ocklawaha in May. Lippincotfs Magazine, October, 

1875. 

St. Augustine in April. Lippincotfs Magazine, Novem 
ber, 1875. 
The Story of a Proverb. Lippincotfs Magazine, January, 

1879. 

Bob. The Independent, August 3, 1882. 
The Happy Soul s Address to the Dead Body. " (From 

Shakspere Course of Lectures). The Independent, 1886. 
A Fairy Tale for Grown People. St. Nicholas Magazine, 

1879. 

The poems appearing in various magazines from time 
to time are not here named, as most of them appear in 
the complete edition of his poems. 

PRINTED NOTICES OF HIS LIFE AND 
WRITINGS. 

CALVKRT, GKO. H. The Golden Age, June 12, 1875. 
MARBLE, EARLE. Cottage Hearth, June, 1877. 
BROWNE, WM. HAND. Memorial Address, October, 1881. 
KIRKUS, WM. American Literary Churchman, October, 

1881. 

OILMAN, D. C. Our Continent, February, 1882. 
WARD, W. HAYES. The Century, April, 1884. 



55 



WARD, W. HAYES. Memorial prefixed to Lanier s Poems, 
New York, 1884. 

TABB, JOHN B. The Independent, 1884. 

THAYER, WILLIAM R. The American, Philadelphia, 1884. 

THAYER, WILLIAM R. The Independent, March, 1884. 

BROWNE, FRANCIS F. The Dial, Chicago, June, 1885. 

CHAMBERLAIN, D. H. The New Englander, Vol. 44, p. 
227, 1885. 

STEDMAN, E. C. Poets of America, Boston, 1885. 

HAYNE, PAUL H. The Critic, February 13, 1886. 

WILKINSON, WILLIAM CLEAVER. The Independent, Sep 
tember, 1886. 

GATES, MERRILL E. Presbyterian Review, November, 
1887. (Reprinted in pamphlet form). 

WEST, CHAS. N. Address delivered before Georgia His 
torical Society, Savannah, Ga., December 5, 1887. 
(Printed in pamphlet form). 

" PATTY SEMPLE." Southern Bivouac, April, 1887. 

HANKINS, V. W. Southern Bivouac, May, 1887. 

HIGGINSON, T. W. The Chautauquan, April, 1887. 

HIGGINSON, T. W. Women and Men, Chapter VIII., 
Roberts Bros., 1888. 

MORRIS, H. S. The American, Philadelphia, February 
18, 1888. 

BUCKHAM, J. The Literary World, February 18, 1888. 

Also see The Nation, New York : 1880, October 28 ; 1881, 
September 15; 1882, November 30; 1883, July 12; 
1884, December 18. 

Articles and reviews in the daily newspapers are not 
included in this list. 



56 



(THE FOLLOWING PAPERS ARE NOT KNOWN 
TO HAVE BEEN PRINTED.) 

OILMAN, D. C. Address in Hopkins Hall, October 22, 1881. 
WARD, HERBERT D. Essay at Amherst College, 1884. 
WARD, W. HAYES. Address before the Ministers Club 

at Newark, N. J., 1884. 

WARD, SUSAN H. Lecture, read at various places. 
BLACK, G. D. Lecture at Antioch College, January 11, 

1886. 
BLECKLEY, CHIEF JUSTICE. Address delivered at Atlanta, 

Ga., February 3, 1888. 
GATES, MERRILL E. Lecture in Brooklyn, February 2, 

1888. 
GILMORE, J. H. Lecture in New York, February 18, 1888. 

POEMS. 

Poems have been written on Lanier by Mrs. Lawrence 
Turnbull, Charles W. Hiibner, John B. Tabb, Chas. G. 
D. Roberts, Paul H. Hayne, Hamlin Garland, Lizette W. 
Reese, James Cummings, Edith M. Thomas, Richard E. 
Burton, Jasper Barnett Cowdin, Wm. W. Hayne, Simeon 
Tucker Clark, and Clinton Scollard.