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Poets of the Civil War (American Poets Project) [Hardcover]

By J. D. McClatchy (Editor)
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Item description for Poets of the Civil War (American Poets Project) by J. D. McClatchy...

Collects poems inspired by the Civil War, including works by William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Walt Whitman.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   211
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 4.75" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 7, 2005
Publisher   Library of America
ISBN  1931082766  
ISBN13  9781931082761  

Availability  0 units.

More About J. D. McClatchy

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! J. D. McClatchy is the author of seven previous collections of poetry and of three collections of prose. He has edited numerous other books, including The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and has written a number of opera libretti that have been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, and elsewhere. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where he served as president from 2009 to 2012. McClatchy teaches at Yale University and is editor of The Yale Review.

From the Hardcover edition.

J. D. McClatchy currently resides in the state of New York. J. D. McClatchy was born in 1945.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > United States
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > United States > General
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > History & Criticism > Poetry
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 19th Century
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 20th Century
8Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Poets of the Civil War (American Poets Project)?

America's Civil War in Poetry  Jan 19, 2007
Many people in the United States remain fascinated with the Civil War, but relatively few students of the war study how it was viewed in the literature of the day. This is a pity because the poetry of the Civil War is among the best sources we have to see how Americans responded to the conflict, its origins, and its aftermath. This short anthology, "Poets of the Civil War" will introduce the reader to the extensive volume of poetry inspired by the Civil War. The anthology is part of the "American Poets Project" series of the Library of the America with the laudable goal of making readily accessible a selection of the memorable poetry that Americans have written over the years. The volumes in this ongoing series show that the art of poetry constitutes an important American achievement. Professer J.D. McClatchy of Yale University selected the poems and wrote a perceptive introduction to this Civil War volume.

The volume includes selections from 33 poets, arranged chronologically by date of birth. Although Civil War poetry continues to be written, the works in this collection all were written by contemporaries to the war. The poems differ widely in quality and in theme. The volume includes works by famous early American authors, including Bryant, Emerson and Longfellow. Some readers may be surprised to learn that these writers remained active during the Civil War era. The volume also includes a short selection of reflective poems by Emily Dickinson inspired by the Civil War. Dickinson is not often considered as a Civil War poet.

The two poets who best captured the Civil War in their works, Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, are well-represented here. Whitman's poems emphasize the compassion he developed for individual soldiers as shown by "The Wound Dresser". His poems have a feeling of immediacy. The anthology also includes Whitman's great poem on the death of Lincoln, "When Lilacs Last at the Dooryard Bloom'd."

Many readers may not be aware that Herman Melville wrote Civil War poetry. Melville's poetry has received a mixed reception over the years, but I find it offers a moving and thoughtful picture of the war. Melville wrote in a deliberately halting poetic style that emphasizes the ambiguities and conflicts he felt in considering the war. He tended to write about individual battles and events, and his work can be viewed as a sort of running commentary on the war and its aftermath. This selection includes Melville's poem on the battle of Shiloh with its description of the dead as "Foemen at morn, but friends at eve," and a lengthy poem on the horrors of the battle of the Wilderness.

The poems I enjoyed in this volume include the descriptions of battles, including Henry Brownell's eyewitness account of the battle of Mobile Bay, "The Bay Fight", Thomas Read's poem, "Sheridan's Ride", Silas Weir's poem "How the Cumberland Went Down", and Kate Sherwood's "Thomas at Chickamauga". Of the poets that are not well known today, I enjoyed the selection by Henry Timrod, the "Poet Laureate of the Confederacy" and the poems by John De Forest, who is better remembered as the author of the Civil War novel, "Miss Ravenel's Conversion."

The anthology reflects many points of view including strong Southern feelings and feelings equally intense for the Union. Many of the poets, North and South, are more concerned with the death and destruction resulting from the conflict that with the righteousness of their respective causes. But abolitionist poesm such as Julia Ward howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Francis Harper's "The Slave Auction" find a place in this collection as do poems seeking a peaceful reconciliation of North and South upon the conclusion of the war. Poems with a reconciliationist sentiment include Francis Miles Finch's once well-known poem, "The Blue and the Gray." ("Love and tears for the Blue/Tears and love for the Gray.")

Poetry remains the most direct way to understand the heart of a people. Readers with an interest in understanding the Civil War will enjoy and learn from this short selection of its poetry.

Robin Friedman
When you think about it, to truely understand a time and a culture, you must understand the culture's music. Poetry is of course a form of music. As an example, much can be gleened from the study of the music published and sung during recent American Wars. There is no doubt the songs of the sixties will be studied by historians and their relationship to that conflict. This wonderful small volume gives us a good sampling of the poetry inspired by the American Civil War. This is a good representative collection. The editor has included works by well known poets of the time to those that are not so well known (actually some that are relatively unknown). The volume is well noted, with explanation of the syntax and wording of the time, which is most helpful. I have been collecting Civil War books for years now and am glad I was able to add this one to my collection. Recommend it highly.
The enduring works of America's finest poets  May 13, 2005
Compiled, organized, edited, and featuring an introduction by J.D. McClatchy, Yale teacher and editor of the inaugural volume of the American Poets Project, Poets Of The Civil War: Selected Poems traces the advent, progress, and literary legacy of the American civil war as revealed in the enduring works of America's finest poets. Featuring classic works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Margaret Junkin Preston and much more, the verses reveal poetry's unique ability to evoke emotions and capture fractured states of mind and being in America's most perilous time. Notes clarify some uses of archaic language, metaphors, specific historical references and the like in some poems. Highly recommended for poetry and civil war enthusiasts alike. From "Boston Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson: The word of the Lord by night / To the watching Pilgrims came, / As they sat by the seaside, / And filled their hearts with flame. // God said, I am tired of kings, / I suffer them no more; / Up to my ear the morning brings / The outrage of the poor.
McClatchy The Master Editor Does It Again  Apr 9, 2005
J D McClatchy, who has edited many volumes of poetry, and written some poems on his own, is one of our very best editors. His book of Longfellow is the best selection since the 1950s. Now comes a more comprehensive, and at the same time more intimate book. The sheer breadth of poets who might be said to be "Poets of the Civil War" is astonishing, and this is not even counting the many British, French, Caribbean poets who wrote on the war as well, this is just the Americans (both North and South). You can see the years pass by as the book begins with a not very memorable poem by William Cullen Bryant, who was born securely in the 18th century, while several of the poets made it through all the way into the 20th century, not within living memory but sort of. Anyway McClatchy hit on the idea of arranging the poems by the birthyear of the poets who wrote them, and this really points up in an elegant way the mechanisms by which attitudes towards the war seem to shift by generations.

The older poets, people like Bryant who might be described as being old even when the war began, have a very different take on it than those who were teens or even children when the war broke out. We can see this paradigm shift recapitulated in the case of a single poet, say Walt Whitman who, as McClatchy cleverly points out, was all gung ho about the war at first, but later on in life he saw the sadness and the tragedy of the war. "Drum Taps" indeed.

This writing teeters on the edge of Modernism and in fact, a fascinating sequel might be compiled, perhaps by McClatchy once again, in which the early US modernists (Amy Lowell, TS Eliot, Pound, Moore, etc) might be seen to be echoing the Civil War as a subject in their poetry. Like Lowell's poem about his Civil War ancestor. In the 20th century, McClatchy claims, poetry narrowed to the "increasingly oblique and intimate lyric." Yes, but this is only a partial truth. Plenty of poems were written on a national and epic scale, but they were increasing de-valued by partisans of New Criticism. Check out Cary Nelson's work in this area.

Though the work on view here in this book is indeed second rate, as McClatchy is eager to admit, it is not negligible, and in fact it's often thrilling, particularly the well chosen poems by Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Ambrose Bierce, Francis Fich, Julia Ward Howe (the famous "Battle Hymn of the Republic"), Emerson's "Boston Hymn," and four great poems by the incomparable H W Longfellow.

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