Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 1110a Theophilus Hunter Hill >> Page 237

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 237

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription NOVEMBER 1864 237

mode of speech. You are not merely to rhyme, however musical the rhyming may be—you are to design, concieve, think, seek, find & deliver. You are to extort from every subject its inner secret—for the Poet is a Seer. Whatever of problem there be in the story of Narcissus you are to find out—the moral of himself and story, which is its vital principle. Narcissus was passionless. He had no earnest passions. He loved himself only. He could not love women. He had no blood for it. He was probably an onanist, and his story, probably founded on a fact, was a satire. Hercules, poisoned by the shirt of Nessus, was doubtless a victim to Syphilis, imparted by his wife who had been previously ravished by the Centaur; and so the Greeks disguised the satire in a fable or allegory.' That Poetry which is simply graceful & harmonious verse, has no vitality. Nothing lives long in literature of any sort but that which is informed by vigorous original thought; & it must be thought beyond the time. The poet who too readily enters into the general sense, cannot long survive. The generation which he perhaps has taught—up to a certain point—goes beyond him, leaves him while he remains stationary. It asks for more than he can give. Milk for babes—meat for men. In degree with his fullness, depth, power of thought, will he endure, as in the case with Shakspeare, Dante, Milton—all the great masters. It will need 300 years of ever advancing civilization, before any approach will be made to the depths of Shakspeare. Poe & others, who aimed at nothing more than musical effects, & pretty surprises, have materially injured the present growth of Poets. Even Tennyson, exquisite master as he is, is working injurious effects upon thousands, who might succeed as original writers, yet are content to fail & blunder as his Imitators.—Beware of this. Use rhyme only as the organ of thought. Make yourself the master of your art, only that you may work out original designs. As I have said, your verse, as verse, per se, is happy & spirited; and yet numerous faults occur even in this respect. In the 1 paragraph, you have the rhymes day, away, day & stay, occurring too closely together. So we have vain, swain, strain, refrain within four lines of
the few unsigned poems are prefaced by complimentary remarks which can be identified as by Simms.
'Simms is obviously a euhemerist.