Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 1110a Theophilus Hunter Hill >> Page 238

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Page 238

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 238 THE SIMMS LETTERS
each other.' So on page 4, the line "Scarce perceptible decline," finds its rhyme only in the next paragraph where you begin a new proposition.6 This is wholly inadmissable, &c. You exhibit a good deal of fancy, but must remember that fancy is a decorative, an augmentative agency, which must have its basis in original & solid thought. Your friend was right, in one sense, in suggesting the exclusion of your last paragraph. It is a foreign grafting—an excrescence—has no proper connexion with the subject.' Study now

'Hill apparently ignored Simms' suggestions—perhaps his Muse was inadequate to the task. In the published versions of "Narcissus" in Poems, pp. [1]-9, and Passion Flower and Other Poems, pp. 90-97, the poem opens:
Pining for the beauty he In himself alone could see, Wan Narcissus, day by day Wasted wofully away:
Love-lom Echo, all in vain, Sought the self-enamored swain,
Calling on his name again, And again, until the woods, In their wildest solitudes—Grown familiar with the strain—Syllabled the sad refrain: "0 Narcissus! where art thou? Dost, in frolic, hide thee now? Ah! tis cruel thus to stay
From thine Echo, all the day...."'In the version in Poems (as doubtless in the manuscript) this passage (revised
for Passion Flower and Other Poems, though without altering what Simms found
objectionable) is as follows: Still more futile his essay, Who would vividly portray Scarce perceptible decline,
Where the substance and the shade,
Interfused—together fade! Metaphor may not define Stealth of gradual decay—Toying with its tortured prey—Growth of shade, decrease of shine,
Narcissus, in those eyes of thine!
'Neither Simms nor Hill's friend convinced him to discard his "excrescence" in
either published version. In the last paragraph of "Narcissus" Hill drops his narrative
and addresses a nameless "Maiden" and thus points his "moral":
Shouldst thou, like Narcissus, guess
Half of thine own loveliness; Though his fate were surely thine!
Echo's never would he mine!
Shouldst thou half thy charms discover,
Maiden, peerless as thou art,
Hope would droop within thy lover,—