Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 14: No 2) >> Remembering the Father of Southern Literature >> Page 28

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Page 28

Secondary Scholarship | 2006
Transcription early years of Radical Reconstruction. But, lest we forget, he included in his
Capture, Sack and Destruction of the City of Columbia a substantial account
of the invaders' destruction in the Barnwell area. While he was serving as a
wise and calming influence, he was also striving to construct shelters at
Woodlands where he could re-unite under one roof his scattered family.
Two hundred years have passed since Simms was born in
Charleston. 136 years have passed since Simms died in his daughter's
Charleston home. Perhaps it is fitting he died where he was born, but it is
also sad that he died away from the home-base ha- had established at
Woodlands – a place he cherished until the end of his Iife, even after it was
destroyed by Sherman. 127 years have passed since the Simms monument
was unveiled in Charleston's White Point Garden. The people of Barnwell
raised funds for that monument of Simms, looking up the Ashley River and
over the city he loved. It is certainly fitting that the people of Barnwell are
today unveiling another Simms memorial site where future generations can
pause to remember.
We will never know whether or not Simms felt "called" to live in
the country. What we do know is that he came here to live and to write – not
to exploit, not to use, not to abuse, not to shame. Certainly Simms's Sense
of the Beautiful was nurtured, developed and intensified here. Buried in the
heart of the great writings Simms completed while residing at Woodlands
are keys and answers and insights to readers, who can still find reasons and
ways to develop our own Sense of the Beautiful today, and to carry that
sense with us wherever we decide to go and into whatever we are led to
Great literature does more that entertain. It informs, it enlightens, it
records. Great literature addresses great issues. It faces the fundamental
problems of individual and community life. It has the capacity to build us up
and to help us to become better people, living better lives with increased
vision and wisdom, no matter how rich or poor, how privileged or under-
privileged, how fortunate or unfortunate we may happen to be. Great
literature is a gift to mankind, and Simms was a master at giving that gift, to
any generation willing to receive it.