Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 17: Nos 1-2) >> Simms's Unpublished Rhymes >> Page 41

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Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 41 THE SIMMS REVIEW

illustrations. Ultimately, none of the rhymes appeared, but the interest
from Life in publishing some of the rhymes represents another fascinat-
ing chapter in the history of the collection that needs to be addressed.9
There are approximately 300 rhymes in the collection. Many are
short, but a number of rhymes in the collection are quite long, consisting
of multiple stanzas. At this stage, the exact number of unique rhymes is
difficult to determine. Some of the manuscripts only contain fragments
of rhymes. The collection also contains rhymes with numerous revisions
or, in other cases, revisions that have been arranged into entirely new
rhymes. In some instances Simms has taken rhymes that he had written
earlier and simply recopied them, making no changes at all or at most
minor editorial changes. Sometimes Simms appears to do this because
the earlier copy has deteriorated and is difficult to read, a condition that
affects many of the rhymes in the collection. In other instances, however,
Simms includes versions of the same rhyme that seem substantially dif-
ferent, sometimes adding and deleting entire stanzas and creating what
appear to be two distinct rhymes. While this raises editorial questions
about the number of discrete rhymes in the collection, it also offers some
important insights into Simms's editing and work habits.
The rhymes in the collection were not all written at the same
time, and appear on several different types of paper. Some rhymes are
written on stationery. These seem to be the earliest poems in the col-
lection and typically have deteriorated the most. Others are written on
scraps and fragments of paper, many on the back of sheets of paper
devoted to other writing by Simms. The majority of the rhymes are writ-
ten on the back of Confederate States Receipt Sheets, which helps to date
their composition.
In many instances Simms is inventing entirely new rhymes;
however, there are also a large number of rhymes in the collection where
Simms has taken an existing rhyme from the British Mother Goose
canon and reworked it to create a new rhyme. For example, the following
Mother Goose rhyme first appeared in print in England in the eighteenth
century:
Rub-a-dub-dub
Three men in a tub,
And how do you think they got there?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker