Sidney Lanier Other literary forms

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Sidney Lanier (luh-NIHR) is remembered primarily as a poet, he wrote in a surprising variety of genres. His The Science of English Verse (1880) is a handbook of prosody that is still valuable as a discussion of poetic theory and technique despite its overemphasis on the importance of sound. It was originally meant to be a textbook for Lanier’s students at The Johns Hopkins University, and in fact his lecture notes were collected and published posthumously as The English Novel (1883) and Shakspere and His Forerunners (1902). Lanier’s first book, however, was an autobiographical novel titled Tiger-Lilies (1867), which drew on his Civil War experiences and his reading of the German Romantics. His second published volume was Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History (1875), a travel book commissioned by the Atlantic Coast Line Railway and the standard guide to Florida for many years. Lanier was especially successful at revising classics, such as The Boy’s King Arthur (1880) for juvenile audiences—a literary endeavor that appealed to his strong romantic sensibility while providing a welcome source of income. Finally, Lanier produced a remarkable number of essays, including “Retrospects and Prospects” (1871) and the four “Sketches of India” (1876), which were originally published in magazines. Lanier’s writings are most readily available in The Centennial Edition of the Works of Sidney Lanier (1945).