Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 4: No 2) >> Simms's Least Known Separate Publication: A First Examination >> Page 5

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Secondary Scholarship | 1996
Transcription Simms's Least Known Separate Publication:
A First Examination
Anne Blythe Meriwether

I confess that, I took some pleasure in giving this paper a title that I
hoped would arouse some curiosity and interest — I may even have done so to
make up for the deficiencies of the paper itself, which are inherent in the fac
that it deals with the publication, in several forms, of a Simms poem that
could most charitably be described as little better than doggerel. Still, no
matter how worthless it is as poetry, I think that the circumstances of its
creation and publication are worth the attention of a group such as this, and
that both Simms and I can be forgiven for trying to contribute a little levity,
something off the beaten path, to all the weightier and more serious efforts
of this conference.
The Simms poem is entitled "The Press," and I state confidently that it
is the rarest of his separate publications, for no copy is known of its origina
printing and publication as a leaflet or broadside, in Charleston, on July 28,
1848. (How many of you expected this paper to be an examination of
Simms's first publication, his Monody on the Death of Gen. Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney—which exists today in a grand total of three copies, two
of them paste-ups in a scrapbook in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection at
the South Caroliniana Library?)
At some point in July of 1848 a pamphlet of Simms's poems, Lays of
the Palmetto, was published to coincide with the celebration in Charleston
honoring the Palmetto Regiment upon its return from the Mexican War.
Like most of Simms's occasional verse, the 26 poems in the volume have
little or no literary merit, though they do have some biographical
significance, as Kibler and Guilds have pointed out. In his edition
of Simms's Selected Poems, Kibler wisely includes nothing from Lays of the
Palmetto — as he states in his introduction, Kibler's intention was "to present