Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 12: No 2) >> Simms and The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry >> Page 6

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 6

Secondary Scholarship | 2004
Transcription Proverbs itself reads:

Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her
mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

Simms's effective terse version shows the influence of his numerous translations
of epigrams from classical and other sources. (2) As poem, it is better than his
model in Herder. Simms liked this epigram and went on to publish it three times
during his career. It first appeared unsigned as "Surface Virtue.---An Epigram"
in the Charleston Southern Literary Gazette, 3 (1 June 1850). He then collected
it in his Egeria (Philadelphia: E. H. Butler & Co., 1853), p. 71. Its last
publication was in his poetry collection Areytos (Charleston: Russell & James,
1860), p. 337, where it was entitled "Surface Virtue.---Epigram. (From
Proverbs)." It is interesting to surmise that it was Herder's own versification of
Scripture that gave Simms the idea for his own verse adaptations of the Scriptures
he published in his Sabbath Lyrics (Charleston: Walker and James, 1849).
In addition to these two poem manuscripts, Simms made four more jottings
and references to passages in Herder's volume two. He quickly scribbled two
lines of what was likely meant to be the beginning of a poem:

Wake up sacred water,
While with magic song
171

Herder's own passage at page 171 reads

Triumphal Songs of the Israelite

Spring up, 0 well,
Sing ye unto it

This Herder took from Numbers. xxi. 16. Simms jotted "Israel 176," where at
page 176, Herder described Amalek. Simms was later to write a long poem
entitled "Amalek," which he published in three parts during the great war in the
Charleston Mercury of 27 August, 26 September, and 3 October 1863.
His last two jottings were to "Jotham's fable 200" and "Rizpah 220."
Herder, at page 220, notes that.2 Samuel. xxi. 8-10 relates the beautiful account
of Rizpah, the mother of two of the sons of Saul, and that everyone is reminded
by it of the Antigone of Sophocles. Simms checked this passage and made a
special mark by the word "mother." No doubt something in both Jotham's fable
and the account of Rizpah intrigued him and triggered his writer's imagination as
possibilities for art. Perhaps these sources have found their way into his novels,
stories, or poems, and we are simply as yet unaware of just how and where.


6