Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 17: Nos 1-2) >> Simms's Unpublished Rhymes >> Page 39

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 39

Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 39 THE SIMMS REVIEW

to focus his rhymes on settings and themes that would have a distinctly
Southern appeal. Second, he begins to see the collection not simply as
rhymes that he has written but as a collaborative cultural effort some-
thing that would have been more keeping with the creative spirit of the
original Mother Goose—and he calls upon other Southern poets and
men of letters to assist him. It does not appear that any of the rhymes in
the Charles Carroll Simms Collection were written by anyone other than
Simms. All of the rhymes in manuscript form are written in Simms's own
distinct handwriting. It certainly is possible that Simms recopied rhymes
that he had received from other contributors while preparing drafts of the
collection, even though there is no immediate evidence of this.
The only success Simms had in getting any of these rhymes pub-
lished came in October 1867 when the Southern Society, a small periodi-
cal in Baltimore edited by Eugene Lamoine Didier (one of Poe's earliest
biographers), published a small selection of Simms's rhymes under the
heading "The Melodies of the American Mother Goose by Grandfather
Gander" (Letters 5:91).6 Referring to Simms as Grandfather Gander, the
editors of the Southern Society include a preface that exclaims in part,
"We shall use the old English Mother Goose, grafting upon it, wherever
we can, the curious, the marvelous, the peculiar in our own country;
our birds, our beasts, our fishes; our localities; and blend, even with our
most ludicrous developments, something which will always teach grate-
fully of home" (27).7 This preface is followed by six short rhymes which
also exist in manuscript form in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection:
"Mother Goose was a Mother Goose of old,""Go Cry, you baby calf, go
cry,""Pussy cat fiddled her way from the house,""Riddle—An Egg,""The Dandy Pig to the Barber went," and "See the great eagles; see how
they fly."8 "The Dandy Pig" is representative of the best of Simms's
rhymes in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection. It features a vain, pre-
tentious pig who makes a visit to a local barber shop:
The Dandy Pig to the Barber went,
Says he, "a shave, a shave,
And fill my beard and hair with scent,
And make me bright and brave,
With my piggledly, wiggedly, wum!"
However, the barber has different motivations, since the blockade, he
tells us, has left him in need of food and grease for his shop. Thus, the