Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 1003a George William Bagby >> Page 214

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Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 214 THE SIMMS LETTERS
Northern Poets, the best of them, lack in Imagination. They are contemplative, and they possess Fancy in degree. The Imagination shows itself in the conception & the thought—the fancy in its decoration. Poetry, I hold to be an earnest thing—not a play thing; to be a living thing, not a set jewel, or filagree work from the hands of a goldsmith. It is only the living and earnest things in poetry that live. It is only the works of the jeweller that are fashionable. I have been earnest & honest, I believe, in all that I have written. The thought, I believe is always masculine, in my verses, though it may be that it shows the man, drowsing in reverie beneath the trees, as often as it shows him, manfully arrayed for battle in the thick of combat. In sending you what I have done, I omit the longer pieces, and confine my selections wholly to the Ballad, the Lyrical, the Sonnet or the Epigram. I have covered to you a few pieces of the moral & contemplative. I have sent you none which have ever appeared in your pages. And this is saying much; for I have been associated with the Messenger, as Contributor, more than 25 years—in the times of Poor White & Poorer Poe.' You can accordingly, use all, or any, of these extracts, freely, as they will all be new to your readers. I am the more free to send them to you, as I percieve that your mind (from your editorship) is fearless, earnest, and capable of piercing through the garments, to the core. Read what Macaulay says of the Italian Poets, & the characteristics of Poetry, & you will understand me.' I studiously address myself to a clear utterance of the thought, as energetically as I can make

'Thomas Willis White (1788—1843) founded the Messenger in 1834 and in Dec. 1835 asked Poe to join the staff of the periodical. Poe's editorial connection with the Messenger ceased in 1837.
'In two essays "Criticisms of the Principal Italian Writers," first published in Knight's Quarterly Magazine in 1824 and frequently reprinted, Macaulay attributes the evils of Italian poetry from Petrarch to Alfieri to the influence of Petrarch's sonnets: "Almost all the poets of that period, however different in the degree and quality of their talents, are characterized by great exaggeration, and, as a necessary consequence, coldness of sentiment; by a passion for frivolous and tawdry ornament; and, above all, by an extreme feebleness and diffuseness of style." He regrets that Dante rather than Petrarch had not been the poets' model. See Macaulay, The Miscellaneous Works, ed. Lady Trevelyan (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 11898]), Vlll, 60-105.