Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 17: Nos 1-2) >> Simms's Unpublished Rhymes >> Page 40

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Page 40

Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 40 THE SIMMS REVIEW

Dandy Pig meets a terrifying end at the hand of the Barber's razor:
He [the barber] had roast pig to eat for dinner,
And for many long seasons after that,
His bear grease was made from Piggy's fat.
While Simms's rhymes fall under many different categories, what makes
rhymes like this one especially interesting is that they tell a story and
contain a memorable main character who, in this instance, meets a tragic
end because he has forgotten his true purpose in the society where he
lives. The tone is comic, and it contains many of the nonsense words
we associate with childhood rhymes. However, like many of the more
familiar Mother Goose rhymes, this one contains a darker subtext (there
is a blockade of the city), as well as some interesting social commentary.
While not all of Simms's rhymes function in this way, it does reveal how
familiar Simms was with the genre and its ability to embody multiple
levels of meaning.
Based on what is currently known, the rest of Simms's rhymes
remain unpublished and only exist in manuscript form in the Charles
Carroll Simms Collection at the South Caroliniana Library. They were
not left by Simms as a publishable edition, even though evidence from
the Letters clearly indicates that he was seeking a publisher for a volume
of children's rhymes. It is certainly possible that a manuscript edition
based on these poems did exist at some point, since Simms had sent
inquiries and proposals for the edition to numerous friends, editors, and
publishers in the Northeast at least as early as 1865, and possibly earlier.
There is some evidence from the collection that Simms was organizing
the rhymes into a publishable edition. For example, some of the rhymes
are numbered, suggesting that Simms was working toward an organized
sequence or placement of them into a collected edition. Also, Simms
had taken nine of the poems and attached illustrations to them. Where
these illustrations come from originally needs to be identified, since they
support the idea that Simms was working on an illustrated edition of
rhymes.
There is one final note about the publication history of the
rhymes: In 1955, Life Magazine corresponded with representatives of the
Charles Carroll Simms Collection—Beverley S. Simms and Mary Simms
Oliphant—about publishing some of the rhymes in the collection. Initial
plans were to publish about twenty of the rhymes with accompanying