Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Poem for a New Year- Henry Timrod

Art thou not glad to close
Thy wearied eyes, O saddest child of time?
Eyes which have looked on every mortal crime,
And swept the piteous round of mortal woes?

Savage Station, June 1862

In dark Plutonian caves,
Beneath the lowest deep, go, hide thy head;
Or earth thee where the blood that thou hast shed
May trickle on thee from the countless graves!

Take with thee all thy gloom
And guilt, and all our griefs, save what the breast,
Without a wrong to some dear shadowy guest,
May not surrender even to the tomb.

Burying the dead at Fredericksburg

No tear shall weep thy fall,
When, as the midnight bell doth toll thy fate,
Another lifts the scepter of thy state,
And sits a monarch in thine ancient hall.

Him all hours attend,
With a hope like morning in their eyes;
Him the fair earth and him these radiant skies
Hail as their sovereign, welcome as their friend.

Him to the nations wait;
O lead us from the shadow of the past.”
In a long wail like this December blast,
They cry, and crying grow less desolate.

How he will shape his sway
They ask not-- for old doubts and fears will cling--
And yet they trust that, somehow, he will bring
A sweeter sunshine than thy mildest day.

Fishing on the James River

Beneath his gentle hand
They hope to see no meadow, vale, or hill
Stained with a deeper red than roses spill,
When some too boisterous zephyr sweeps the land.

A time of peaceful prayer,
Of law, love, labor, honest loss and gain--
These are the visions of the coming reign
Now floating to them on this wintry air.

Henry Timrod, “1866- Addressed to the Old Year” [1]

Henry Timrod was born December 8, 1829 in Charleston, South Carolina. He studied at the University of Georgia but due to ill health he left the school and never returned. After leaving school he studied law in the office of a prominent Charleston lawyer but had no particular relish for that line of work. He would again take up his classical studies, on his own, and he hoped to one day gain a professorship. He never attained the heights of academia he desired, but he did teach the children of a wealthy South Carolina planter for several years. His poetry as well as some prose, would appear in magazines such as “The Southern Literary Messenger and Russell's Magazine. In 1860 Ticknor and Fields of Boston, Massachusetts produced a slim volume of his poems. [1]
He enlisted in the 20th South Carolina Infantry in 1862 but was soon discharged, again owing to poor health. Afterward he became a war correspondent for the Charleston Mercury, and later became editor for the newspaper, The South Carolinian. [2]

He survived the war and died October 7, 1867, a relatively young man of 37 years.

The Picket

1- The Poems of Henry Timrod, Timrod, Henry, 1829-1867, New York, E.J. Hale and Son, 1873. from
2- The Cyclopedia of American Biographies, 1903, Federal Book Company, Boston Massachusetts
Photo Credits
All photos from Library of Congress:
Burying the Dead at Fredericksburg, from
Drawing is left side of Harper's Weekly centerpiece, January 3, 1863, volume 7, number 314, from Internet Archive,
by Thomas Nast

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