Southern Prose and Poetry for Schools

The year is 1910.  The southeastern U.S. is still recovering from the Civil war, which devastated the region though it ended years before.  Edwin Mims and my great-grandfather Bruce Payne edit a volume – 454 pages in today’s edition! – to share the wealth of southern culture and make it available to students in the South, that they might appreciate and perhaps find some pride in the shreds of their own culture.  In the preface the authors wrote:

THE principal purpose of this collection is to inspire the youth of the South to a more earnest and intelligent study of the literature of that section. For various reasons the Southern student knows less of his own literature than he does of any other. One rarely hears of the study of a Southern author in a Southern high school or grammar school. Without diminishing the effort devoted to the study of American literature, and with no intention of sectional glorification, our boys and girls should begin to acquaint themselves with some of the finer spirits who have endeavored to record in beautiful language the emotional experiences peculiar to the section in which they dwell.

The year is 2006.  Apex Data Services, Inc., Amanda Page, and Sarah Ficke transcribe and encode Southern Prose and Poetry for Schools into an electronic version at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who now own this version.  God bless ’em, the whole book is available online through this link, as long as you quote buy nexium online pharmacy this:  “© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.”

So who’s in this book?  Who made the 457-page cut?  Famous names, for sure: Thomas Jefferson, Robert Edward Lee, John Caldwell Calhoun, Edgar Allen Poe. There are women! – Margaret Junkin Preston, Mrs. Roger Pryor (first name Agnes).    There is poetry, there are letters, and stories, and orations.  In the back are biographical sketches of the authors.  There’s no question it’s a product of its time – I see a reference to Mammys, tributes to southern heroes, and an address on the New South.  Still, I am struck by the care with which it has been assembled.  These men must have loved their home country, and held respect in their hearts for its worth.

And y’know what?  It’s still in print – you can get it (new or used) on Amazon!

Let me repeat one simple, sweet poem here, from page 317:



OVER the sea, over the sea,
My love he is gone to a far countrie;
But he brake a golden ring with me,
The pledge of his faith to be.

Over the sea, over the sea,
He comes no more from the far countrie;
But at night, where the new moon loved to be,
Hangs the half of a ring for me.

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