Torch of Blazing Heart Poems

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And if he doesn't like the way, That Bess presents the view, He'll maybe change his mind, and stay Where the good Doodles do! I would fain remind our generous-hearted people of what he has done let me repeat for their fame quite as much as his own ; and thus inaugurate measures whereby the intellectual remains of a ver- satile, manly, yet tender genius may be collected and preserved for the benefit of coming generations! Ah, fellow-countrymen, it is an ancient truth, but how little regarded, that the materialisms of trade and commerce and finance are not all that constitute a nation's glory.

Strengthen your trade prosperity by an alliance with the vitality of art. Do not honor exclusively as too often you have done hitherto your great agricultural and railroad capitalists, your heroes of the loom, the bank, the exchange, but reserve a place in your esteem and grateful remem- brance for those who have wrought through spir- itual and mental agencies, and whose words, with recognition, shall not die! Ticknor, Hayne criticises his poems as follows : " The Virginians of the Valley. Whether you are of the North or the South, especially now that the old sec- tional animosities seem to be dying out, I feel sure you must alike admire it.

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The verve and fire of the conception and the straightforward simple powers of the execution make it a most impressive ballad. James Russel Lowell in a recent 'Ode' has eloquently praised Virginia; but there is a heart-drawn pathos, a half-subdued passion, in Ticknor's poem which seems to be more effective still. Apropos of the lat- ter's style, James Maurice Thompson, himself so true a lyrist, has remarked that 'it is best suited to forceful ballads.

Something in the direct, clear, ringing expression of his 'Virginians' reminds us of " 'Mais quand la pauvre champagne, Fut en proie aux etrangers, Lui, bravant tous las dangers, Semblait seul tenir la campagne. Thompson con- tinues : 'Few poets acknowledge that, to stir the feel- ings and reach the inmost heart of the masses, one must make use of these materials which are suited to the vulgar understanding. Si la famille est morte, Neva.

Qui t'ouvriva la porte, Ah! The opening stanza is a bold swell of music, something clarion-like. The identical rhyme of the last couplet one loses sight of in the exceeding terseness of the language, the outright vigor of the rhetorical stroke. Most poets dally with their conceptions. But this one seizes his idea at once, thrusts it into a position of strong relief, fastens it there, and is done. Technically speaking, his style is dynamic. The poem rounds off half-solemnly, half- playfully.

Now here is no straining after effect, no floundering to get up a foam; but that sturdy art which is the spirit of a genuine popular ballad. Was ever the historical incident it commemorates more feelingly and vividly described? Burns himself was not more direct, more transparently honest in his metrical appeals, than Ticknor. There are no fantastic conceits, no far-fetched similes, no dilettanteism of any sort in his verses. Hubner, in his "Representative South- ern Poets," says : "It would seem that the vocation of a 'country doctor,' with its hard work day and night, its monotonous round of constant and ex- haustive duties, making heavy drafts upon all the mental and physical resources, besides the lack of the stimulating social and intellectual influences which characterize metropolitan life — it would seem that such an environment would offer slight induce- ments and few opportunities to anyone so situated, to cultivate esthetics, indulge in dreams of the im- agination, and time for wooing the Muse of Poetry.

A 'country doctor' of the finest type of his profession, a good and, therefore, a noble man, and a poet of decided genius, was Dr. Francis O. Tick- nor. In his martial lyrics and poems Tick- nor's genius exhibits itself in its most impressive flights. In the power of passionate feeling, in terse, concentrated diction, clear, ringing music, and ideal- istic imagery, the poetry evolved by the incidents, the pathos, the glory and the gloom of our Civil War shows but few examples that can be considered su- perior to the best of Ticknor's contributions to that phase of our American literature.

Its terrible pathos, its stern realism, — picturing in a few masterly lines the horror, the gloom and glory of war, — the passion of patriotism, the heroic sense of duty inflaming the soul of even a mere boy of six- teen, and the splendid fervor of the concluding stanza give to this ballad the distinction it has won in popular esteem.

While there were scores of such youthful heroes on both sides in our Civil War, yet the fact that this poem was not the creation of a poet's fancy, but the incident as related actually hap- pened — Dr. Ticknor being the "good Samaritan" who took the poor battle-battered stripling-hero to his house and nursed him — adds unique interest to the story. Ticknor is spoken of thus : 'The one who has writ- ten some of the best poetry produced in America is the least known of all our poets.

Powell, one of the editors of The Independent, wrote in reference to a poem as follows: Tf it be possible to have collected and put out a volume of lyrics like that, it will constitute the finest volume ever issued in the United States, if not in the Eng- lish language. Frank O. While Ticknor's war songs were full of fire and verve, he was not alone or chiefly a war poet, but sang of friends and home with delightful charm. How much must such a man get out of life! He loved the beau- tiful, and portrayed it because he could not help it. He loved the heroic, hence martial fire leaped from his pen.

What would have been to others a red- headed, freckled-face, crippled soldier boy, was to him a hero, a knight of princely courage. Next to enacting great deeds and living great lives is the ability to understand and be lifted up by the great- ness and unselfishness of heroic human souls. This man of heroic mold, but womanly sweetness, is him- self a poem of precious beauty.

The ideal life sparkles out through all his jeweled lines.

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The busy doctor died in the prime of life, and deep was the grief of his neighbors. He loved them, and they loved him, though they suspected not all his great- ness of soul. He had lived his creed : " The man with little love shall find But little loving in mankind;' "He had laid out for humanity earnest zeal and unselfish devotion.

Among his religious poems, 'The Beauty of Holiness,' 'Easter,' and 'The Church' are full of cheerful hope and redolent with sacred beauty. While his range of poetic vision was not so extensive as that of some others, while he might resemble the old harpsichord of one un- broken string of which he sings : " 'One chord in thy heart unbroken!

One key to that chord alone! A touch — and thy thought hath spoken ; A sign — and thy song hath flown! When the reck- oning shall have been made, it will be found that this unostentatious country physician has made a perma- ment addition to American literature. Notice in 'Little Giffen' the dramatic abruptness with which this story of a wounded boy is told, how in reading one almost forgets the rhyme and rhythm in the eagerness to hear the story.

True art does not display its art. The same intensity might be illustrated by others of his simple, ballad- like poems — 'Loyal,' for instance. Ticknor is known best by his war-poems ; but some of his nature poems are of superior merit. Many of his poems never appeared in periodicals.

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He sang sim- ply because he loved to sing. Therefore in the un- affected lines we find each thought and each emotion singularly imbued with sincerity and sweetness. Trent in his "Southern Writers," "Ticknor would have secured a considerably higher place in South- ern literature; yet the work he did, despite its lim- itations, ought to have given him more fame during his life and secured him much more consideration from posterity than has been allotted him.

Ticknor's poems. Maurice Thompson says: "If there is a finer lyric than this in the whole realm of poetry I should like to read it. Alphonso Smith says : "In the simplicity of its pathos, the intensity of its appeal, and the dramatic concentration of its thought 'Little Giffen' ranks among the best short poems of American literature.

Pancoast in his "Introduction to Ameri- can Literature" writes that it "has a concentrated force and directness which make it not unworthy of comparison with some of Browning's shorter narra- tive poems. The story is true in every detail.

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During the Civil War places of business were often converted into temporary hospitals, and to one of these — the old "Banks" building, still standing at Columbus, Ga. Rosa Nelson Ticknor with her sisters, Mrs.


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Carter and Mrs. Ticknor was strongly drawn towards "Lit- tle Giffen.

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On Dr. Ticknor's arrival she begged him to bring Giffen to Torch Hill, which he did, in his own carriage, though the attending surgeon in- sisted that it was worse than useless. Ticknor with the aid of a faithful "Mammy" nursed Giffen back to health after many weary weeks of suspense.

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During his convalescence Mrs. Ticknor taught him to read and write. According to ac- counts he was an ordinary-looking little fellow, except for his eyes. His name was Isaac Newton Giffen, and his father was a blacksmith in the moun- tains of east Tennessee. So much is certain. His part in eighteen battles and freedom from injury except in the last, the story of his march, wounded and ill, how he and others would lie down in the road to drink the water from mud-puddles, and other events of his war career, were sources of un- tiring entertainment to the children, and by amusing them he was a great help to Mrs.

Giffen came to Torch Hill in September, , and left in March, Douglas and the horse came ashore on the Torch Hill side, while the current carried Giffen across the creek. From there he waved his last good-by, and climbed wet and muddy into the wagon of a negro going to town. Nothing further was ever heard of him, and there is no doubt that he met death in some immediate encounter. In the first composition the last stanza read : "Many such on a summer day- Rake the meadows and mow the hay; Of freckled face and pale blue eye, To whom no bird or squirrel is shy — Mark the plainest— and he might be Little Giffen of Tennessee!

Gray in the solemn gloaming, Gray in the dawning skies ; In the old man's crown of honor, In the little maiden's eyes. Gray mists o'er the meadows brooding, Whence the world must draw its best ; Gray gleams in the churchyard shadows, Where all the world would "Rest. Silvery gray for the bridal, Leaden gray for the pall ; For urn, for wreath, for life and death, Ever the Gray for all. Gray in the very sadness Of ashes and sackcloth; yea, While our raiment of beauty and gladness Tarries, our tears shall stay; And our souls shall smile through their sadness, And our hearts shall wear the Gray.

He hath bared his soul at a deadlier height With icier bonds, but he weeps to-night. Not for his hopes that have faded dim ; Nor the failing light, nor the fettered limb! Other than anguish hath melted him, That fell with a light from the starry dome On a single line in an ancient tome, "In the time of thy trouble, call thou on Me; And, lo! My love shall deliver thee!

One in his palace — the bride of night, Beautiful sleep, hath fled his sight, Sick and faint with the woe and weight Of the golden thorns that crown the great — Moans, as the stricken who moan for light In the dark "mid-watch," and at dawn, for night ; "All my realm for the sweet release From a monarch's pain to a peasant's peace!