George Henry Boker: Poet and Patriot

George Henry Boker: Poet and Patriot

George Henry Boker: Poet and Patriot

George Henry Boker: Poet and Patriot

Excerpt

"Recently as I passed under the Arc de Triomphe, near the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I recalled some verses which were written by a poet born in Philadelphia, the 'Dirge for a Soldier,' byGeorge Boker, which starts with them words:

'Close his eyes; his work is done!'"

It was thus that M. Poincaré, the War President of France, lately opened an article published by a Philadelphia newspaper. The distinguished Frenchman undoubtedly supposed that a reference to one of the greatest American elegies, written by a Philadelphian, would mean much to the many Philadelphia readers of his article. I wished then that I could share this optimism. Neither during his life, nor since, has Boker been known as he deserves to be known by his countrymen. The middle of the last century, when he was seeking to establish himself, was especially marked by a provincialism which hesitated to praise too highly the productions of our own soil. To this provincialism Boker was a martyr, and although he was but one of many, he suffered more than most of his contemporaries from it. He was not only an American; he was a millionaire. "How," queried his age, "could good literature result from that combination?"

Whether M. Poincaré encountered the poetry of Boker in France, or during his brief American residence as a young teacher, his quotation is significant. It is only one of many references which the present writer has come upon in recent . . .

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