Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 17: Nos 1-2) >> Simms's Unpublished Rhymes >> Page 44

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Page 44

Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 44 THE SIMMS REVIEW

Climb like a squirrel, cling,
And now I feel like a king.
The grape vine swing was a familiar landmark at Woodlands and, for
children who lived or visited there, it was a favorite place to play. The
rhyme shares a relationship with one of Simms's best know poems, "The
Grape-Vine Swing." However, in the poem, the innocent playfulness of
the rhyme gives way to the somber meditations of the adult poet, espe-
cially in the last stanza where the grape-vine swing lingers as only a
distant memory:
O giant strange of our Southern woods!
I dream of thee still in the well-known spot,
Though our vessel strains o'er the ocean floods,
And the Northern forest beholds thee not;
I think of thee still with a sweet regret,
As the cordage yields to my playful grasp,
Dost thou spring and cling in our woodlands yet?
Does the maiden still swing in thy giant clasp? (Poetry 152)
One final category in the Mother Goose canon that often inter-
sects with the categories listed above consists of rhymes that describe the
geography, history, and culture of Britain or other European countries. In
similar fashion, Simms writes many rhymes that include references to
the geography, history, and culture of the South, and they are quite often
among the most creative ones in the collection. In "Oh, Charleston is a
pretty town," Simms describes the history of the city as a series of sieges
by occupying forces: the French and Spanish during the colonial era;
the British during the early decades of the American republic; and, more
recently, Union forces during the Civil War. Each time, he exclaims, the
city survives.
Other Southern locations, such as "Old Virginy,""Richmond-
town,""Augusta-town," Moultrie, and James Island, appear throughout
the rhymes. Simms also arranges rhymes around animals that would have
been familiar to Southern readers. One such rhyme begins:
I had a noble tacky
His name was Beauregard,
I lent him to Miss Jacky,
And she rode him rather hard.