Sidney Lanier

Start Free Trial

What aspects of Sidney Lanier's life are being discussed in Andrew Hudgins' "Appetite For Poison?"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sidney Lanier was a man born in Macon, Georgia, who fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War and was captured and held prisoner in a Union prison for several months. He found his way to Alabama and lived and worked there for several years. He was a writer, musician and lawyer as well. He left to return to Georgia, and later moved his family to Baltimore. His health was adversely affected when he contracted tuberculosis while in prison during the war. This plagued him for the rest of his life. He was married to Mary Day of Macon, and they had several children together. Sources are unclear as to Lanier exact age when he died.

Realistic aspects of Lanier's life as presented in Andrew Hudgins' "Appetite For Poison" include reference to the musical portion of his life. He was the first flute in the Peabody Orchestra in Baltimore, Maryland. In this piece of writing, the reference to this is:

At work, I asked the second flute what his wife would do if she found out...He grinned, nudged, winked, and slashed his index finger across his throat...

Hudgins mentioned Lanier children. There is nothing available as to his children's names, but in the narrative, his wife, also called Mary, gives birth to the Lanier's first child; later in the piece, Mary is pregnant with their second child:

We'd been out almost an hour when a sharecropper left his mule and walked beside use for a quarter of a mile before he spoke. He asked me if "the lady" felt like planting his first handful of seed corn. It is good luck, apparently, to have a pregnant woman start your crop...But Mary was meticulous. She spaced the kernels carefully and pinched the red clay over them.

It is documented that Lanier was survived by his wife and their children.

Lanier also had tuberculosis which he contracted while in the Union prison where he was kept for some months—after being caught running a blockade. He had the illness for the rest of his life, and died between thirty-eight and forty (depending upon the source).

...The last time we made love, I had a spasm in my lungs and spit blood on the pillow case. Not much.

All of these pieces from Hudgin's "Appetite For Poison" are documented in Lanier's life in the 1800s.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team