Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 1110a Theophilus Hunter Hill >> Page 236

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Page 236

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 236 THE SIMMS LETTERS
even in my own mind, without giving utterance to the criticism, I might as well attempt to gather the crops which I have not planted. I have no overseer, & this is harvest time, tything time, tax time, and to gather for the tythe & find money for the tax, is a problem of time & temper that leaves me little for patient walks & wanderings to the Illissus or the Aganippe.2 The poem published in the Courier is not in my possession, and I do not now remember how it was published, whether with or without my introduction. This was simply complimentary, & possessed no value as criticism.' In regard to the poem which you send me now, I would not advise its publication in its present state. As a specimen of very felicitous versification, it is highly creditable; but as a creation, a conception bold & original duly worked out,—you have done nothing with the subject. It is still, as you found it, a naked statement of fact—viz: that Narcissus, a beautiful youth, became so enamored of his own beauty as to pine away to death in consequence. In your effort at musical effects, you have been content with giving this history in a happy collection of rhymes, but the only moral which you work from it, is to be found in that very portion which your friend urges you to omit. I, myself, do not see the necessity of making a poem to illustrate a moral; but every poem must embody thought, conception, & a poem of this class should show design. The earlier efforts of all young writers in Poetry, are designed to acquire mastery in utterance. They naturally strive to make language deliver itself in rhythm. Until this faculty be acquired, thought cannot become malleable in language. Now, it is not unfrequently the case that, after a while, the young writer continues his practise, seeking musical effects only. He forgets that these musical effects are only means to an end, and that rhyme & rhythm are only agents for utterance in Poetry. Poetry is winged thought, and flies like an arrow to its mark. Having, as you have done, acquired a sufficient mastery of rhythmical utterance, your aim must be now embody your thoughts in this
'llissus, the river in Attica, and Aganippe, the spring on Helicon sacred to the Muses.
'We have examined five years of the Charleston Courier prior to this date and cannot find any poem with Hill's signature or his initials. Most of the poems in the Courier are signed with names, initials, or pseudonyms, and none of these or