Saturday, September 16, 2006

Timrod and Nimrod

Yowzer. I got a little panicky when I overheard something on Weekend Edition this morning about Bob Dylan "borrowing" from a Civil War-era poet on his latest album. (Doesn't Dylan "borrow" on every record he puts out? But that's neither here nor there.)

That kinda info, emanating vaguely in the background of the kitchen while whipping-up a Saturday morning omelet and pouring the coffee, was momentarily startling since my namesake is the Civil War-era poet, William John Grayson, an ancestor, lawyer, writer and Representative from South Carolina.

The poet of whom Dylan is rumored to reek is Grayson's contemporary and fellow South Carolinian, the tubercular nursery-room tutor, Henry Timrod, often cited as the "poet laureate of the Confederacy."

And that's a good thing as no one I'm aware of, including any of my immediate family, has ever been inspired by a single line of 'ole W. J.'s poetry. For good reasons, as Grayson's poems surely fall into the "had to have been there" category of Civil War poetry making. Rather, throughout the generations, we've about worn out the name.

An excerpt from Grayson's The Hireling and The Slave is here.

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