Saturday, October 12, 2013

Forgotten Civil War Poems

Rebecca Weir of Cambridge and Elizabeth Lorang of the University of Nebraska have uncovered and brought together a large collection of poems from the Civil War, which, until now, have only been available in microfilm or from subscription-only online resources. Weir and Lorang found the poems from two New York-based newspapers, The National Anti-Slavery Standard and the Anglo-AfricanHere is a taste of what they've uncovered from a post at the Almagest blog:

The poems in the edition reveal contemporary responses to a host of wartime issues and events: emancipation, African American enlistment, diplomatic relations and civilian duty amongst them. Treating love, loss, trauma, hope, despair, and politics, as well as more mundane – yet remarkably symbolic – subjects, such as the passage of time and changing seasons, the poems played a vital role in shaping how Americans experienced the war.
The edition puts to rest popular lingering myths about Civil War literature, especially poetry. In particular, Will not these days unravels the misguided notion that the Civil War produced only a handful of poems worth remembering and studying. In reality, a perhaps unknowable number of poems were written and circulated during the Civil War, and poetry was central to many people’s experience of the war.

Thanks to Megan Piette for her work on this post.