PEA RIDGE — It was cold as William Vaughan marched toward Pea Ridge in March 1862, days before the battle there.
Vaughan, a private with the Seventh Division of the Missouri State Guard, was called out March 3 to begin marching at daylight from Cove Creek.
The Missouri State Guard was a Missouri militia group that supported the Confederate cause, said Troy Banzhaf, park ranger at Pea Ridge National Military Park. The Battle of Pea Ridge kept Missouri in the Union after Confederate forces lost, he said. Missouri was a slave state.
Vaughan’s diary from December 1861 to 1862 recently was donated to the park.
Read the full article here: Pea Ridge Takes Donation of Battle Diary.
Title: William Faulkner: Early Prose and Poetry
Author: William Faulkner (Compilation and Introduction by Carvel Collins)
Written: (copyright 1962)
In 1962 Carvel Collins collected Faulkner’s early writings from the time he spent at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. This writing is generally precious and nearly unbearable. By 1925, however, much of Faulkner’s habitual pretension had begun to fall away. Following are a few notes concerning the individual stories and articles collected in Collin’s book.
“L’Apres-Midi d’un Faune.” Published in The New Republic 6 Aug 1919; appears in slightly revised version in The Mississippian on 29 October. Meter, rhyme and imagery: just fine. The speaker frolics lugubriously with a fetching nymph in the woods. Too many similes, too many repetitious trees and leaves, and a few unintentional chuckles, such as reference to the girl’s “lascivious dreaming knees” makes it a challenge to pay attention to the rest.
“Cathay.” Published in The Mississippian 12 Nov 1919. Meter, rhyme and imagery: just fine. A poem which envisions “empty years infinitely / Rich with thy ghosts” of a glorious past: anticipating the collected works of William Faulkner. No doubt inspired by Ezra Pound’s 1915 collection of Chinese poetry.
“Landing in Luck.” Faulkner’s first published short story, appeared in The Mississippian 26 Nov 1919. Not much of a story: characters almost certainly tiny portraits of real persons Faulkner had known in Canada, and none of them sympathetic, or even memorable. A puff with no control of setting or character or point of view.
“Sapphics.” With “Landing in Luck,” also appeared in The Mississippian 26 Nov 1919. An abstraction, this one, remote, dissevered from easy understanding or relating. An elusive tale of Aphrodite en route from Lesbos. A pre-soporific vision that Faulkner once suffered, seemingly, unfolding in lieu of sleep.
“After Fifty Years,” published 10 Dec 1919 in The Mississippian. A former beauty has become transformed into an ancient (50 years old) witchy crone. Faulkner seems too tied to his rhyme scheme at the expense of generating peculiar images: “A crown she could have had to bind each tress / Of hair.” A separate crown on her head for each tress? Hum? Huh? And Faulkner’s (as usual) hung up on a few words that seem to overpower him but which do less for us: white(ness), dreams, soft(ness), crown(ed), bound, blind. Repetition of cheap words and iffy images.
“Une Ballade des Femmes Perdues” published in late Jan 1920 in The Mississippian. A tip o’ the cap to François Villon’s “Ballade des dames du temps jadis.” Seemingly an old man looking back fondly at the innocent romances of his youth. Green dusk: a nice touch.
“Naiads’ Song” published in The Mississippian, 4 Feb 1920. More Greek mythology strangely out of place in early 20th Century north Mississippi, although it makes for a nice enough Come all ye-type ballad. Nice meter and rhyme and rhythm. When you’re weary and downhearted, come dip down into dreams with us.
Between February and April 1920 Faulkner published a series of four poems in The Mississippian ―exercises, really ― that were part translations, part transformations of Paul Verlaine: “Fantoches” (25 Feb 1920), “Clair de Lune” (3 Mar 1920), “Streets” (3 Mar 1920) and “A Clymène” (14 Apr 1920). Of these the last is the most compelling, with Faulkner getting off a few interesting turns of phrase: “because your eyes / Color of the skies,” and “your voice . . . troubles the horizon / Of my reason.”
“A Poplar” published in The Mississippian 17 Mar 1920, later in The Marble Faun. A girl as tree, or a tree as girl. Some images either troubling or ridiculous, take your pick: “You are a young girl / Trembling in the throes of ecstatic modesty, / A white objective girl / Whose clothing has been forcibly taken away from her.” Now, what are we to make of that? Our ecstatic modesty proscribes penetrative contemplation.
“Study” published in The Mississippian 21 Apr 1920. Driven by well-executed meter and rhyme. An ode to the perennial collegian’s lament about the conflict between the necessity of studying for exams and procrastination. But again we find here Faulkner hung up on a few simple words and their repetition serving in place of a breakthrough into more creative elaboration. A clumsy construction or two are further stumbling blocks: “While I can think of nothing else at all / Except the sunset in her eyes’ still pool.” (One pool or two?) “Trembling gaspingly as though in fear; / Where the timid violet first appear.” (“Gaspingly” is gristly hard enough to swallow, but is the timid violet a flower or an evening’s hue, and in any case oughtn’t it be “appears?”)
“Alma Mater” published in The Mississippian 12 May 1920, later in The Marble Faun. A sentimental and generic end of the year paean to the old school, probably penned in ten minutes or less.
“To a Co-ed” published in the University of Mississippi yearbook annual Ole Miss, end of the spring semester (circa May) 1920. Transfixed by a lovely girl, the moment preserved in vapid verse.
Books and Things column, The Mississippian. Published 10 Nov 1920, in a few paragraphs Faulkner reviews In April Once by WA Percy. In a passage Faulkner singles out and cites as being “the nearest perfect thing in the book,” he unwittingly argues against either pursuing Percy’s collected works or trusting to Faulkner’s judgment of poetry, although it is evident enough why this particular passage might be resonant with the reviewing poet in question. Apparently In April Once concerns itself considerably with the Great War, the great cauldron of Modernity. It is striking that Faulkner, held up as a model Modernist, should say of Percy: “he is like a little boy closing his eyes against the dark of modernity which threatens the bright simplicity and the colorful romantic pageantry of the middle ages with which his eyes are full.” One is struck, reading these words, that Faulkner is as yet unaware that his own poetry is overwhelmed with a desperate clinging to a mythic Grecian past. It will only be when he yields to “dark modernity” in prose that his writing will begin to improve.
Books and Things column, The Mississippian. Faulkner’s review of Turns and Movies and Other Tales in Verse by Conrad Aiken, published 16 Feb 1921. Turgid, esoteric, pompous writing full of comma splices, but so be it: Faulkner raves about Aiken while chastising all other contemporaneous American poets in the most severe manner.
“Co-education at Ole Miss” published 4 May 1921 in The Mississippian. “Thy fair face fills my bean ― O.” Nothing more need be said.
“Nocturne,” published in the University of Mississippi yearbook annual Ole Miss, end of the spring semester, circa May 1921. Section II of “The World and Pierrot. A Nocturne.” appearing in Vision in Spring.
Books and Things column, The Mississippian, Faulkner’s review of Edna St Vincent Millay’s Aria da Capo: a Play in One Act, published 13 Jan 1922. Faulkner continues to mock contemporary poets, occasionally lauding Miss Millay’s play, and bemoaning Modernity: “for about all modern playwrights and versifiers offer us is a sterile clashing of ideas innocent of imagination.”
Books and Things column, The Mississippian. Faulkner’s praise of Eugene O’Neill, published 3 Feb 1922. Faulkner’s insufferable pretension goes on and on. And on and on. But “America,” Faulkner baldly states, “has no drama or literature worth the name,” and later in this little essay: “A national literature cannot spring from folk lore . . . America is too big and there are too many folk lores: Southern negroes, Spanish and French strains, the old west, for these always will remain colloquial; nor will it come through our slang, which also is likewise indigenous to restricted portions of the country. It can, however, come from the strength of imaginative idiom which is understandable by all who read English. Nowhere today, saving in parts of Ireland, is the English language spoken with the same earthy strength as it is in the United States; though we are, as a nation, still inarticulate.” It is encouraging that he is flirting with some potentially fertile thoughts: what would make for an important American literature? And how would one go about trying to achieve it? These questions appear to be on his mind.
“The Hill,” a prose sketch, published in The Mississippian on 10 Mar 1922, later modified for A Green Bough. Faulkner ventures hesitantly, still somewhat orotund, into the prose arena. A man comes over a hill and semiconsciously considers the prosaic hamlet in which he passes his days with little to show for his labors. It’s tempting to think that, given his recent thoughts about an American literature, that Faulkner is rethinking his poetry and all that he has accomplished ― or not ― to this point.
Books and Things column, The Mississippian. Published in two parts (17 and 24 Mar 1922), Faulkner holds forth on “American Drama: Inhibitions.” Continuing to bemoan the absence of American culture which makes expats of its most promising artists. But look here: “We have, in America, an inexhaustible fund of dramatic material.” Again he considers the promise of American English, contrasting it with the British version, “melodious but slightly tiresome nightingales in a formal clipped hedge.” Whether he recognizes it or not, Faulkner is sliding in the direction of Modernism.
“Portrait” published in the Jun 1922 issue of the Double Dealer, having already appeared in Vision in Spring. Not the worst sample of that collection.
Books and Things column, The Mississippian. Faulkner’s essay on three novels by Joseph Hergesheimer, “Linda Condon―Cytherea―The Bright Shawl,” published 15 Dec 1922 . . . Let’s just say Faulkner doesn’t care for Hergesheimer and let it go at that.
And there is this important gap in time for Faulkner’s published material: 1923 and 1924, when he was working especially on The Marble Faun and, presumably, engaged in self-assessment and reassessment.
“On Criticism,” published in the Double Dealer, Jan/Feb 1925. Still a preachy tone about the absence of culture in America and on how artists are powerless to get the better of their critics; still, Faulkner comes across with a little more maturity and restraint than we’ve seen before.
“Dying Gladiator” published in the Jan/Feb 1925 issue of Double Dealer. One Roman immortal reproofs another for her too unseemly mourning of fallen mortals, whose lives after all pass away so soon. Not badly written; nor is it a terribly original theme.
“Verse Old and Nascent: a Pilgrimage,” published in Apr 1925 Double Dealer. How Faulkner crucially came across Swinburne at age 16. Claims his original forays into verse were to promote philanderings and to set himself apart in small-town Oxford. Faulkner gets off some striking lines here instead of his former purple prose. “With a man it is . . . art for art’s sake; with a woman it is always art for the artist’s sake.” “When the co-ordinated chaos of the war was replaced by the unco-ordinated chaos of peace I took seriously to reading verse.” “The beauty ― spiritual and physical ― of the South lies in the fact that God has done so much for it and man so little.” How, once he’d read Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, he knew he must break with the past: how a new road into his own future writings was revealed and beckoned before him. He concludes: “Is not there among us someone who can write something beautiful and passionate and sad instead of saddening?” This is not the child-Faulkner we have known before now.
“The Faun” published in Double Dealer Apr 1925. Meter and rhyme: excellent. May’s dryad eludes pursuit by the laggard faun, March. Forest leaves are rippled and ringed, not unlike the surface of a fishy pond. Well, perhaps the faun shall try again when the next year rolls around.
Richard M McMurry’s Atlanta 1864: Last Chance for the Confederacy (copyright 2000, University of Nebraska Press) is an exceptionally good book.
Recounting the story of the chess game played by William T Sherman and Joseph E Johnston between Chattanooga and Atlanta, McMurry’s deft touch insures that all the significant moves, and many of the more subtle feints as well, receive their just due. Given the tremendous impact of this particular campaign on the history of the Civil War, and on Lincoln’s re-election bid, and on the fate of slavery and of the United States, too often these particular stories are given short-shrift elsewhere. McMurry corrects that oversight in this concise yet detail-packed slender volume.
McMurry successfully holds at bay the legends and myths of the men involved, devoting considerable time to their foibles, personal limitations, and strategic and tactical errors and outright blunders. No more is this more evident than in his treatment of both Sherman’s and Johnston’s behaviors and choices during the campaign. But there is no sign that McMurry has a personal axe to grind. He is more interested in divesting the myth to reveal the raw and dirty facts of the fight than he is to advance the agenda of either side over the other.
Often in books of Civil War campaigns we are told merely what happened, which direction some army or other elected to travel on a map. McMurry refreshingly always provides insight as to what informed these often pivotal decisions: for this reason alone this book is superior to about ninety percent of its competition in the genre, and all writers in this arena would do well to seriously consider emulating the model presented here.
Also worthy of mention is McMurry’s consideration of the influence of politics and personal foibles that significantly impacted these events. For example, Sherman later claimed he launched the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain because he was concerned about his army becoming rusty from not fighting. McMurry shows that Sherman was also feeling political pressure to have a fight even if he doubted he could win it, and one is reminded of similar actions by Sherman at Chickasaw Bayou and in the early fruitless attacks on the stronghold of Vicksburg. Also, I’d long been mystified by the strange Federal failures at Utoy Creek, and McMurry illuminates the scandal of John Palmer’s dereliction of duty on the field which led to a crisis here and subsequent loss of life.
This isn’t a difficult book to read, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to breeze through, either. This is a book that requires some degree of concentration, but it rewards that attention in abundance. Rarely would I give a book like this such a high rating, but McMurry has done a superb job with his subject, and his book deserves the highest praise and recommendation.
Title: Vision in Spring
Author: William Faulkner
Sometimes an idea or a theme gets lodged in a poet’s brain and there’s no shaking it loose. The fever must run its course, and the poet will try to write down words to net the evasive vision-fragment that always seems to slip away. Revision leads to revision; one attempt is shelved to make way for a new approach. Always the refinement effort goes on and on, beach pebbles tumbling in the surf, sharp edges knocked off, smoothed out, polishing the original conception away beyond recovery. We can see the effects of this buffing process to different degrees in a pair of Bob Dylan songs from the early 1960s: “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” and “Chimes of Freedom.” Both involve a poet preoccupied with conveying his esthesis of the concrete world being itself a phenomenal expression of deeper musical forms. Joan Baez suggested that Dylan used to put his audience to sleep with his performances of “Lay Down Your Weary Tune.” “Chimes of Freedom,” on the contrary, is poetic brilliance of a more immediately recognizable variety, even if it never achieved the repute of Dylan’s greatest hits.
The first third of Faulkner’s Vision in Spring is closer in effectiveness to “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” than it is to “Chimes of Freedom.” Here Faulkner is abstract to the point of disjunction with the real world that awaits on our doorsteps. Characters and setting and action are absent, or if they are not absent then they might as well be, for the reward of trying to seek them out defies the effort that would be required. Faulkner’s poetic control is fine enough, and I reject his claim that he was the “failed poet” he always claimed to be, but poetry also requires toeholds that the audience, or the readers, can latch onto. Effective poetry requires striking imagery, and usually if not characters, then a feeling or a notion that expands through time: it requires a reason to be read, to be experienced: it needs to evoke a sympathetic emotional response. But the first third of Vision in Spring lacks this fundamental ability to connect. It puts the audience/reader to sleep with its simplistic and infernally repetitious language isolated from any sense of place or passage of time. It is a long, softly lapping lagoon of unexciting ― indeed, of uninteresting ― words. Sluggish as “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” may be, at least that song is not uninteresting.
Faulkner began his abortive career in poetry in about 1916 when he was nineteen years old, so he was about as good a poet as he was ever going to be by the time he got around to 1921’s Vision in Spring (he started writing his first novel, Soldiers’ Pay, in 1925). This book, or booklet, is deeply informed by the same conceit that would preoccupy Bob Dylan almost four decades later, that the bones of the world are musical forms, that what we see and experience in the world are physical expressions of music. In the Introduction to Vision in Spring Judith L Sensibar provides a fine accounting for why this should be, and also why we should view this particular poem-cycle of Faulkner’s as evidence of the beginning of his transformation into a Modernist writer, or at least a Modernist thinker. I won’t challenge Sensibar too much on her opinions or conclusions. Most definitely in the last two thirds of Vision in Spring Faulkner has become conspicuously influenced by TS Eliot in particular. Although what results is unfortunately blatantly derivative, the result is to impose a focus in the poems which the preceding material lacked. The audience/reader begins to waken, as now there are characters and motion and action and emotion present. We begin to have something to cling too, even if we’ve seen this movie before.
Here Faulkner is zeroed in on an abundance of small details that inflate voluminously outward from very small foci in time and space. It can be thought of as a scaled-down version of the near-infinite expansion we encounter in Joyce’s Ulysses, for example, or perhaps it is a harbinger of the tumescent distension we’ll eventually find in Absalom, Absalom! As poetry Vision in Spring eventually becomes tolerable, although it lacks power or any compelling voice. It never comes close to challenging “Chimes of Freedom.” It remains a ghostly whisper, but one which suggests that maybe change is on the way.
A short-short from Memphis Blues Again.
Generals Howard and Schofield Catching Up Beneath Kennesaw
Copyright © 2014 Bob R Bogle. All rights reserved.
“Several of their officers had emerged from the edge of the woods and into a clearing at the crest of the rise,” General Howard said to me. “Pine Knob was more of a little knoll than a hill, really, and we were five or six hundred yards distant, no farther. We could easily see them up there with their own field glasses, gazing down at us nonchalant, and them in plain sight like that.” It was the story of General Polk’s death, and as General Howard was speaking his words called to mind memories of a fine day in late spring a month before the incident he was relating. After our dinner I’d conducted the assembly a short distance to the bald hill that overlooked a smattering of farmhouses on the outskirts of town. A warm, violet twilight was settling in, the sun gone down behind the ridge at our backs. The commander was in the lead, rolling his cigar between his teeth, his thumbs jaunty in his waistcoat pockets. From this vantage we could readily discern the enemy’s works, and the unbroken railroad tracks, and the earthen fortress beyond. A mile to the east, slightly south, a trick of the fading sky’s pale light caught a reflection in the lazing river through the snaking tree line. The Oostanaula. A pity it was, I thought again, that the bridge had not been taken on the first day. The generals were speaking together when a boom of artillery sounded. We scattered. Momentarily, peering back from the cover of a pocket of trees and brush in which I’d secluded myself, I saw to my surprise that two of them remained standing atop the hill, unmoved by the first shot, or by intermittent small arms fire. Directly I recognized them to be General Sherman and General Hooker, who stood near enough each other but were not speaking; instead, both continued to gaze into the dimming valley. It was a tableau vivant, like an inexplicable dream, seemingly out of place and time. Those were Polk’s men down below us ― the roles would be curiously reversed down along Johnston’s mountain line: I wondered now whether it was possible General Polk himself had seen us standing there exposed and given the order to discourage us. I watched the two of them in wonder as more shots were fired. What held their attention? Gradually I understood. Neither man would give the other satisfaction by being first to retire. After another minute, and a few more rounds, both generals slowly and simultaneously began to move. “‘How saucy they are,’ General Sherman said,” General Howard said to me, reviving me from my reverie; General Sherman was referring to that other knot of officers on Pine Knob, who had climbed up onto the top of the rebel breastworks to get a better view. “‘Brush them off the crest,’ he instructed the gunners. The others were wise enough to get out of the way, but not so General Polk, or it may be that his girth delayed him terminally on this occasion. They say as he turned the cannonball struck one arm, passed through his chest, and took off the nether arm. He was practically torn in two, God have mercy on him.”
Title: [poems from: Three Stories and Ten Poems]
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Reviewing Hemingway’s Paris chapbook Three Stories and Ten Poems (published in Paris in late summer 1823) for The Dial in October 1924, Edmund Wilson is said to have dismissed the poems as negligible. Having tracked them down and read them myself, I too was at first inclined to ignore them.
They are, however, a significant element of the story of Hemingway, and so should not be so casually disregarded. I’m aware of poems of his printed as early as May and June 1922 in the New Orleans magazine The Double-Dealer, and they continued to be published at least as late as 1925 in the German art and literary magazine Der Querschnitt. At least in these early years Hemingway fancied himself a competent poet. By the time in our time saw its Paris publication in 1924 (and in expanded form in the United States, called In Our Time, in 1925), Hemingway was still quite experimental in the approaches he took to writing as we’ll see later, even if his classic style was already prominent. But in these first few years Hemingway clearly saw himself as a writer, an artiste, and not yet as a prose-writer.
Under the title “Wanderings,” six of the poems published in Three Stories and Ten Poems had previously been published in Harriet Monroe’s Poetry in January 1923. These were: “Mitrailliatrice,” “Oily Weather,” “Roosevelt,” “Riparto d’Assalto,” “Champs d’Honneur” and “Chapter Heading.” Of the four later added, two had been written in Chicago ― “Oklahoma” and “Captives” ― and two more appear to have been written in Paris ― “Montparnasse” and “Along with Youth.”
“Mitrailliatrice”: Hemingway longing to transform his typewriter into a weapon.
“Oklahoma”: It could be a Neil Young song, and not a very good one, seeing Native Americans blurred out in time. But ends with a great image of an arrow wound, “Pounding it throbs in the night ― (or is it the gonorrhea)”.
“Oily Weather”: And this poem carries forward the throbbing motif in a crone of an ocean longing for the sexually-pulsating and throbbing long, deep hulls of ships. So . . . Okay, there’s that. Joyce too liked to squeeze in as much innuendo with a reasonably straight face as he could get away with, which was rather a lot.
“Roosevelt”: A paean to TR, who died in 1919, inevitably always one of Hemingway’s role models. Interesting how here Hemingway separates and distinguishes the divine myth of a man from the lesser truth of a mortal man.
“Captives”: I think these few lines are concerned with the breaking of the spirit of enslaved Africans brought to America.
“Champs d’Honneur”: A little rhyme about unheroic death in WWI trenches.
“Riparto d’Assalto”: The most interesting poem in this collection, a little picture recounting Hemingway’s WWI adventures. Driving an ambulance full of Italian stormtroopers (Adrati) up the Grappa side of Monte Grappa near Bassano, and the final devastating line: “At Asalone, where the truck-load died.” Of course Hemingway will mine the Italian campaigns much more in subsequent, more substantial texts.
“Montparnasse”: How one’s friends in Paris, if they do attempt suicide, are rescued, and are back in the cafés as usual by afternoon.
“Along with Youth”: How the past passes away and is unrecoverable and falls into irrelevancy.
“Chapter Heading”: The gulf between who we want to believe we are and who we are.