The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing
2013, Volume 34
"Will not these days be by thy poets sung": Poems of the Anglo-African and National Anti-Slavery Standard, 1863–1864Edited by Elizabeth Lorang and R. J. Weir
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True thinker and true worker, hand in hand, Unlike, but yet how like each bears his part; Hero and poet with the same great heart, In one the life-blood of the Southern land Pulses with sudden throb, as beat the waves Where the blue sea his rocky islet laves; The other, master of the mighty rhyme, Had pierced the dusky mantle of past time, And seen the shadows of the noble dead, The knightly throng, with Arthur at their head— Writing their Idylls in a deathless song; Deeming perchance, such life a dim ideal— Its gentle strength, its fearless scorn of wrong— On Garibaldi gazed, and found it real.
- Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807–1882), popular hero of the Italian Risorgimento. His military successes culminated in the conquest of Naples and Sicily (1860). Garibaldi's fight for Italian unification and independence earned him an international reputation. According to Dennis Berthold, "The American press eagerly shaped Garibaldi's legend to fit the contours of national ideology" ("Melville, Garibaldi, and the Medusa of Revolution," in National Imaginaries, American Identities: The Cultural Work of American Iconography, ed. Larry J. Reynolds and Gordon Hutner [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000], 110). In June 1861 Abraham Lincoln offered him a command in the Union Army, but Garibaldi did not accept the appointment, apparently because Lincoln would not agree to immediate emancipation for all slaves; even so, "his name became indelibly associated with the Union cause" (Berthold, 113).Garibaldi received a hero's welcome when he came to England in April 1864. The New York Times of May 8, 1864, reported that 600,000 people had greeted the "Italian Liberator" in London. During the same trip, Garibaldi visited Tennyson and his family at their home on the Isle of Wight. Hallam Tennyson recalled that his father "was always an enthusiast for Italian freedom" (Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir, by His Son [London: Macmillan, 1897], 2:1). After the visit, Tennyson described his impressions to the Duke of Argyll: "What a noble human being! I expected to see a hero and I was not disappointed. One cannot exactly say of him what Chaucer says of the ideal knight, 'As meke he was of port as is a maid'; he is more majestic than meek, and his manners have a certain divine simplicity in them" (3).
- Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892), first Baron Tennyson from December 1883. Poet laureate (1850–92) and author of Idylls of the King, a series of Arthurian narratives in verse. The first four Idylls were published in 1859. "I took the legendary stories of the Round Table as illustrations," Tennyson said later in life: "I intended Arthur to represent the Ideal Soul of Man coming into contact with the warring elements of the flesh" (Idylls of the King, ed. Hallam, Lord Tennyson [London: Macmillan, 1908], 443).
- The attribution is either a pseudonym or simply wrong. The poem appears to have been making the rounds of publication in May 1864. According to the Round Table of May 4, 1864, the poem recently appeared in the Boston Transcript, with attribution to Tennyson, "an absurdity which ought to be apparent at a glance" (328). Similarly, the poem also appeared in the Living Age of May 21, 1864, with introductory lines instead of a title: "Tennyson, after visiting Garibaldi, addressed him in the following sonnet" (338).