This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 confirming his right to be called the great American satirist in verse; and Whittier,1 already, like Lowell, no uncertain voice speaking against slavery, almost forgot his Quaker traditions in the eager strophes with which he encouraged the fighters for freedom and exulted over the victory of their aims. Whitman,2 already the prophet, though as yet hardly heard, of a mystical union of his people, composed, during the struggle to destroy the Union of the states, battle-pieces that are without rancour, and, after that Union had been assured, splendid hymns of triumph that contain no insults to the conquered, vying with Lowell for the honour of producing the loftiest and best Northern poetry of the War. The purpose of this chapter is to tell not of the major poets of the mid-century period, most of whom, in the intervals of full poetic careers traced elsewhere in this history, lent powerful voices to the cause of anti-slavery and union, but of some of the lesser figures whose best or most significant work deals almost wholly with the conflict. At least one of them has not received his due share of praise-Henry Howard Brownell (1820-1872), called by Holmes ‘Our Battle Laureate.’ Born at Providence, he went with his family to Hartford, where he graduated from Trinity College in 1841. After a short season of teaching in Mobile, he returned to Hartford, was admitted to the bar, and began the practice of his profession, while also joining his brother in literary work. His early devotion to the sea, stimulated by frequent voyages, inspired him to sing of its awe and its beauty. Like his brother, who lost his life in 1859 exploring South America, he had the spirit of an adventurer, but, though his little volume of Poems (1847) had contained some lines of verse ringing with denunciation of ease and lazy comfort at a time when such a question as slavery was pressing for answer, he had dealt, for the most part not originally or strikingly, only with the eternal themes of minor poets—love, disappointments, passing beauty, the hard fate of the poetical tribe—and did not really find expression for himself until the Civil War. For a Hartford paper he composed a rhymed version of Farragut's orders to his fleet before the attack upon New Orleans. The verses so pleased the Commodore that he wrote to Brownell in terms of hearty appreciation and afterwards made the poet
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.