Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Poetry and the Practical >> Poetry and the Practical >> Front Matter

image of page
(Cover)Explore Inside

Front Matter

Speech | The University of Arkansas Press | 1996


         Poetry and the Practical was published in 1996 by The University of Arkansas Press as part of The Simms Series.  Edited with an introduction and notes by James Everett Kibler Jr., the book contains a lecture written by Simms between the years of 1851-54, which expanded from one to three parts.  Kibler summarizes the lecture as “a clear, forceful, inspired defense of poetry against those who would relegate it to the margins of life.”[1]  In a 12 November 1850 letter to Evert Augustus Duyckinck, Simms made first mention of the lecture: “I recieve [sic] another application for a public Lecture at Augusta; and the quasi pledge given a year before, when I excused myself to the same applicants for a similar duty, was impressively urged upon me.  I have no escape.”[2]  His host for the Augusta trip, Marcus Claudius Marcellus Hammond, brother to the famous James Henry Hammond, was urged by Simms in a 14 December 1850 letter leading up to his trip to not attend the lecture, which he would “treat in a style as far removed from the merely essayical as possible.”[3]  Simms delivered the Augusta lecture on 6 January 1851 before the Lyceum.[4]  The Augusta Constitutionalist reviewed it favorably in an 8 January edition: “The Lecture was a truly magnificent one, and was delivered in a style of impressiveness and oratorical power, not often equaled. . . . He triumphantly demonstrated that the mission of Poets on earth was both noble and preeminently useful, and that poetry exercised offices of the highest practical utility.”  Charleston’s Courier, Mercury, and Daily Sun also praised the lecture.  James Henry Hammond wrote a 21 January 1851 letter to Simms to regret having missed the lecture: “I have never known any speech to produce such a sensation in Augusta & if I had not heretofore positively declined to Lecture for that Society myself, I would not venture to do it after yours.”[5]