American Poetry in the Age of Whitman and Dickinson

Books of Poetry: The 1860s

with 3 comments

Joanne Dobson

One of the projects I’ve been working on for the past few years, in spare moments, is a counterfactual edition of Emily Dickinson’s war poetry: an attempt to imagine what a book of Dickinson’s war poems might have looked like, had she allowed one to be published at the end of the Civil War. I’m not the first to use this approach; I cribbed it from Joanne Dobson, who produced “a hypothetical Table of Contents for a volume of Verses by Emily Dickinson” as part of her own Dickinson and the Strategies of Reticence. Dobson’s Verses was comprised of fifty poems run together in a continuous sequence; it had an imagined publication date of 1864, the year five of Dickinson’s poems poems did appear in print, on ten different occasions, her most public year as a writer. The point of the exercise: to make vivid the fact that many of Dickinson’s unpublished poems would not have been out of place in the literary market of the time, as previous critics had imagined. The point of my exercise is a little different: to make vivid the particularity of Dickinson’s war poems by putting them in a form that makes comparison easier with other war poets of the time (those, anyhow, who published whole volumes on the subject).

First table of contents page for John Greenleaf Whittier’s In War Time and Other Poems (1864) (click on the image for a larger view)

Not all of Dickinson’s war poetry could have appeared in such a volume.  Intriguing as it is to read “The Soul selects her own Society” as a poem involved with the rhetoric of secession, that reading would have been too impolitic for a northern public in 1865 or ’66. So one of the problems I’m having to work through is imagining the limits of acceptability for that particular time and place.

A related problem is imagining how far Dickinson might have gone in making her meaning intelligible, especially when that meaning might have been troubling to her audience. Much of what I consider to be Dickinson’s war poetry is only war poetry when read in a certain way, a way of reading that is plausible — and even persuasive — but not necessary. Though a title might have made it necessary. So titling is a problem.

Well, the whole exercise is speculative in the extreme. The fact is, Dickinson didn’t publish such a book, and almost certainly would have rejected the possibility if it had been raised by a friend. This doesn’t bother me too much. I’m not trying to argue that Dickinson wanted to publish such a book, only that such a book might have been published.

So what would it have looked like? That’s the really intriguing question. How many poems or pages? What sort of front matter? Sections? Epigraphs? Titles? What range of possibilities might she have had at the time, looking at other books? Asking these questions, I realized I knew very little about the conventions of poetry books in the mid-nineteenth century. Almost all of my reading has come from anthologies and collected editions, or from modern and contemporary selections (something I’ve mentioned before).

Second table of contents page (click for larger view)

Anyway, as part of my research, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to tables-of-contents pages, especially for books published between 1850 and 1875. And I’ve also been making a tentative list of such books, keeping track of the ones that are available online.

For my own future reference, and anyone who might be interested, here’s a selection of 90 titles from the 1860s; and since American poetry did not occur in a vacuum, the list includes nine of the more important British titles (these last marked off with brackets).[*] I will add more titles as I find them.

1860

[Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Poems before Congress (link)]

William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West (link)

Paul Hamilton Hayne, Avolio: A Legend of the Island of Cos (link)

William Dean Howells and John James Piatt, Poems of Two Friends (link)

Adrien Rouquette, L’Antoniade, ou La solitude avec Dieu (trois ages) poeme eremitique (link)

Lydia Sigourney, Gleanings (link)

Edmund Clarence Stedman, Poems Lyrical and Idyllic (link)

Henry Timrod, Poems (link)

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (link)

John Greenleaf Whittier, Home Ballads and Poems (link) (1861 ed.) (not entirely sure about the original year)

1861

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Pampinea and Other Poems (link)

Rose Terry Cooke, Poems (link)

Edmund Clarence Stedman, The Battle of Bull Run,  a prose work with two sonnets by R. H. Stoddard, “Resurgamus” and “On the Late Sacrilege in Virginia” (link)

1862

Henry Abbey, May Dreams (link)

[Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Last Poems (link)]

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Songs in Many Keys (link)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Poems (link)

Thomas Buchanan Read, The Wagoner of the Alleghanies: A Poem of the Days of Seventy-Six (link)

Lydia Sigourney, The Man of Uz, and Other Poems (link)

1863

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Poems (1863) (link)

[Walter Savage Landor, Heroic Idyls with Additional Poems (link)]

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn (link)

Bayard Taylor, The Poet’s Journal (link)

1864

George Henry Boker, Poems of the War (link)

Sarah Knowles Bolton, Orlean Lamar and Other Poems (link)

Henry Howard Brownell, Lyrics of a Day: or, Newspaper-Poetry (link)

[Robert Browning, Dramatis Personae (link)]

William Cullen Bryant, Thirty Poems (link)

Edmund Clarence Stedman, Alice of Monmouth, an Idyl of the Great War, with Other Poems (link)

[Alfred Lord Tennyson, Enoch Arden, Etc. (link)]

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, Poems (link)

John Greenleaf Whittier, In War Time and Other Poems (link)

1865

Astarte (Ann Olivia Adams), Poems (link)

George Henry Boker, Our Heroic Themes (link)

Howard Glyndon (Laura C. Redden), Idyls of Battle and Poems of the Rebellion (link)

Fitz-Greene Halleck, Young America: A Poem (link)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Household Poems (link)

Thomas Buchanan Read, A Summer Story, Sheridan’s Ride and Other Poems (link)

John Godfrey Saxe, Clever Stories of Many Nations Rendered in Rhyme (link)

Richard Henry Stoddard, Abraham Lincoln, an Horatian Ode (link)

Samuel Ward, Lyrical Recreations (link)

Walt Whitman, Drum-Taps (link)

John Greenleaf Whittier, National Lyrics (link; 1869 ed.)

1866

Elizabeth Akers, Poems (link)

George Arnold, Drift: A Sea-Shore Idyl and Other Poems (link)

Henry Howard Brownell, War Lyrics and Other Poems (link)

Alice Cary, Ballads, Lyrics, and Hymns (link)

Herman Melville, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (link)

George Henry Miles, Christine: A Troubadour’s Song, and Other Poems (link)

John James Piatt, Poems in Sunshine and Firelight (link)

[Algernon Charles Swinburne, Poems and Ballads (link)]

Bayard Taylor, The Picture of St. John (link)

Walt Whitman, Drum-Taps and Sequel to Drum-Taps (link)

John Greenleaf Whittier, Snow-bound, a Winter Idyl (link; 1867 ed.)

1867

George Arnold, Poems Grave and Gay (link)

[Matthew Arnold, New Poems (link)]

Ralph Waldo Emerson, May-Day and Other Pieces (link)

Bret Harte, The Lost Galleon and Other Tales (link)

Josiah Gilbert Holland, Kathrina: Her Life and Mine, in a Poem (link)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Humorous Poems (link)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Flower-de-Luce (link)

James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers, Second Series (link) (1885 ed.)

[William Morris, The Life and Death of Jason (link)]

John James Piatt, Western Windows and Other Poems (link)

William Gilmore Simms, ed., War Poetry of the South (link)

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Religious Poems (link)

Rose Hartwick Thorpe, Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight (link) (1882 ed.)

Mary E. Tucker, Loew’s Bridge, a Broadway idyl (link)

Mary E. Tucker, Poems (link)

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (link)

John Greenleaf Whittier, The Tent on the Beach and Other Poems (link)

Richard Henry Wilde, Hesperia, A Poem (link)

Forceythe Willson, The Old Sergeant and Other Poems (link)

1868

Phoebe Cary, Poems of Faith, Hope, and Love (link)

Augusta Cooper Bristol, Poems (link)

Alice Cary, A Lover’s Diary (link)

[George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy (link)]

Adah Isaacs Menken, Infelicia (link) (1869 ed.)

John Rollin Ridge, Poems (link)

Edward Rowland Sill, The Hermitage and Other Poems (1868) (link)

William Wetmore Story, Graffiti d’Italia (1868) (link)

1869

George Henry Boker, Königsmark, The Legend of the Hounds and Other Poems (link)

William Cullen Bryant, Hymns (link)

William Dean Howells, No Love Lost: A Romance of Travel (link)

James Russell Lowell, Under the Willows and Other Poems (1869) (link)

Joaquin Miller, Joaquin: Et Al. (link) (1872 ed.)

Edmund Clarence Stedman, The Blameless Prince and Other Poems (link)

John Townsend Trowbridge, The Vagabonds and Other Poems (link)

John Greenleaf Whittier, Among the Hills and Other Poems (link)

And here is the same list, arranged alphabetically by author, with multiple titles by the same author listed chronologically, with the British volumes listed separately:

American

Henry Abbey, May Dreams (1862) (link) (dedication to William Cullen Bryant)

Elizabeth Akers, Poems (1866) (link)

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Pampinea and Other Poems (1861) (link)
—————, Poems (1863) (link)

George Arnold, Drift: A Sea-Shore Idyl and Other Poems (1866) (link)
—————, Poems Grave and Gay (1867) (link)

Astarte (Ann Olivia Adams), Poems (1865) (link)

George Henry Boker, Poems of the War (1864) (link)
—————, Our Heroic Themes (1865) (link)
—————, Königsmark, The Legend of the Hounds and Other Poems (1869) (link)

Sarah Knowles Bolton, Orlean Lamar and Other Poems (1864) (link)

Augusta Cooper Bristol, Poems (1868) (link)

Henry Howard Brownell, Lyrics of a Day: or, Newspaper-Poetry (1864; 2d ed.) (link)
—————, War Lyrics and Other Poems (1866) (link)

William Cullen Bryant, Thirty Poems (1864) (link)
—————, Hymns (1869) (link)

Alice Cary, Ballads, Lyrics, and Hymns (1866) (link)
—————, A Lover’s Diary (1868) (link)

Phoebe Cary, Poems of Faith, Hope, and Love (1868) (link)

William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West (1860) (link)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, May-Day and Other Pieces (1867) (link)

Howard Glyndon (Laura C. Redden), Idyls of Battle and Poems of the Rebellion (1865)  (link)

Fitz-Greene Halleck, Young America: A Poem (1865) (link)

Bret Harte, The Lost Galleon and Other Tales (1867) (link)

Paul Hamilton Hayne, Avolio: A Legend of the Island of Cos (1860) (link)

Josiah Gilbert Holland, Kathrina: Her Life and Mine, in a Poem (1867) (link)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Songs in Many Keys (1862) (link)
—————, Poems (1862) (link)
—————, Humorous Poems (1867) (link)

William Dean Howells, No Love Lost: A Romance of Travel (1869) (link)

William Dean Howells and John James Piatt, Poems of Two Friends (1860) (link)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863) (link)
—————, Household Poems (1865) (link)
—————, Flower-de-Luce (1867) (link)

James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers, Second Series (1867; 1885 ed.) (link)
—————, Under the Willows and Other Poems (1869) (link)

Herman Melville, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866) (link)

Adah Isaacs Menken, Infelicia (1868; 1869 ed.) (link)

George Henry Miles, Christine: A Troubadour’s Song, and Other Poems (1866) (link)

Joaquin Miller, Joaquin: Et Al. (1869; 1872 ed.) (link)

John James Piatt, Poems of Two Friends (1860): see Howells and Piatt
—————, Poems in Sunshine and Firelight (1866) (link)
—————, Western Windows and Other Poems (1867) (link)

Thomas Buchanan Read, The Wagoner of the Alleghanies: A Poem of the Days of Seventy-Six (1862) (link)
—————, A Summer Story, Sheridan’s Ride and Other Poems (1865) (link)

John Rollin Ridge, Poems (1868) (link)

Adrien Rouquette, L’Antoniade, ou La solitude avec Dieu (trois ages) poeme eremitique (1860) (link)

John Godfrey Saxe, Clever Stories of Many Nations Rendered in Rhyme (1865) (link)

Lydia Sigourney, Gleanings (1860) (link)
—————, The Man of Uz, and Other Poems (1862) (link)

Edward Rowland Sill, The Hermitage and Other Poems (1868) (link)

William Gilmore Simms, ed., War Poetry of the South (1867) (link)

Edmund Clarence Stedman, Poems Lyrical and Idyllic (1860) (link)
—————, The Battle of Bull Run (1861);  a prose work with two sonnets by R. H. Stoddard (link)
—————, Alice of Monmouth, an Idyl of the Great War, with Other Poems (1864) (link)
—————, The Blameless Prince and Other Poems (1869) (link)

Richard Henry Stoddard, “Resurgamus” and “On the Late Sacrilege in Virginia” (1861): see Stedman, The Battle of Bull Run
—————, Abraham Lincoln, an Horatian Ode (1865) (link)

William Wetmore Story, Graffiti d’Italia (1868) (link)

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Religious Poems (1867) (link)

Bayard Taylor, The Poet’s Journal (1863) (link)
—————, The Picture of St. John (1866) (link)

Rose Hartwick Thorpe, Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight (1867; 1882 ed.) (link)

Henry Timrod, Poems (1860) (link)

John Townsend Trowbridge, The Vagabonds and Other Poems (1869) (link)

Mary E. Tucker, Loew’s Bridge, a Broadway idyl (1867) (link)
—————, Poems (1867) (link)

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, Poems (1864) (link)

Samuel Ward, Lyrical Recreations (1865) (link)

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1860) (link)
—————, Drum-Taps (1865) (link)
—————, Drum-Taps and Sequel to Drum-Taps (1865-66) (link)
—————, Leaves of Grass (1867) (link)

John Greenleaf Whittier, Home Ballads and Poems (1860; 1861 ed.) (link)
—————, In War Time and Other Poems (1864) (link)
—————, National Lyrics (1865; 1869 ed.) (link)
—————, Snow-bound, a Winter Idyl (1866; 1867 ed.) (link)
—————, The Tent on the Beach and Other Poems (1867) (link)
—————, Among the Hills and Other Poems (1869) (link)

Richard Henry Wilde, Hesperia, A Poem (1867) (link)

Forceythe Willson, The Old Sergeant and Other Poems (1867) (link)

British

Matthew Arnold, New Poems (1867) (link)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Poems before Congress (1860) (link)
—————, Last Poems (1862) (link)

Robert Browning, Dramatis Personae (1864) (link)

George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy (1868) (link)

Walter Savage Landor, Heroic Idyls with Additional Poems (1863) (link)

William Morris, The Life and Death of Jason (1867) (link)

Algernon Charles Swinburne, Poems and Ballads (1866) (link)

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Enoch Arden, Etc. (1864) (link)

Note

* [Back to text] The date assigned to each book may be off by a year owing to discrepancies between the copyright and title-page dates. In choosing between the two, I have relied in many instances on references works.

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Written by Ben Friedlander

May 10, 2012 at 7:07 am

3 Responses

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  1. I took a class with Joanne Dobson as an undergrad — she was great!

    Michael Kelleher

    May 10, 2012 at 11:46 am

    • Never knew that! Very cool.

      Ben Friedlander

      May 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm

  2. excellent compilation list.

    poetrycurator

    October 9, 2012 at 3:56 am


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