Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 12: No 2) >> Simms and The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry >> Page 4

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Secondary Scholarship | 2004
Transcription Simms and The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry

James Everett Kibler

University of Georgia

A very significant book that had once been in Simms's library was donated
to the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina in winter
1997. It is J. G. Herder's The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, translated from the
German by James Marsh and published in two volumes by Edward Smith,
Burlington, Vermont, 1833. In it, Simms pencilled notes, jottings, and two
manuscript poems, one previously unrecorded, and the other the earliest
manuscript version of one already known. These were written on blank pages at
the rear of the second volume. For both poems, Simms also noted the specific
page numbers of the passages in the text of Herder's book which inspired the
poems, and we thus can see something of the workings of his creative mind as he
takes the inspiration and makes verse from it.
The first manuscript is a new poem to add to the Simms canon, now
standing at a rather staggering 1,862 separate poems. (1) It reads:


A land of hills & valley
Is that which Heav'n now givst
Not one of plains & waters,
Like Egypt which thou leayst---
It drinks its rain from heaven,
And still from year to year,
God's Eye is shining on it.