Thursday, May 9, 2013


I notice that in a short  biographical entry for preacher/poet John Jordan Douglass in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography edited by William S. Powell, and issued by the University of North Carolina, Douglass is compared to an equally obscure previous author (Alan Cunningham):

" In an appraisal of Douglass' poetry, G. A. Wauchope, professor of English literature at the University of South Carolina, wrote: 'As a sea-poet, the author's style and treatment remind one of Allen Cunningham, a poet of a century past who excelled in ballads and songs of the free salt seas. . . . Mr. Douglass' mind is modern, but his soul is Greek. Though by profession he happens to be a Protestant clergyman by divine calling he is a son of Apollo whose magic flute has lured him into the secret haunts of nature, where he communes with the lovely nymphs and goddesses of the great outdoors.' "

I like, "his mind is modern, but his soul is Greek ..." maybe the melodious sound of his sermons, and their interest for his congregations was enhanced by his inner pagan daemon.

Please note, that - for me - the obscurity of an author does not connote any particular value judgment on that author's work. Even considering the regional/local nature of such an author's possible recognition.

We have a local poetess, whose life spanned the 19th and 20th century, and who wrote quite passable verse (very enjoyable). Her collected works, prose and verse, display for those interested a genial view of the local past - small history writ personal. Her old home is just down the road a mile or so, and you will be hard pressed to find any persons, outside of local historians or antiquarians, who are even aware of her existence, and even less of her poetry, or of her charming columns written for a local paper. 

Fame and renown is so fleeting.