Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Poet's Monument

Recently, when passing through Augusta, Georgia, via I-20, I stopped to scope out something I've read about in a book I have called A Guide to Literary Sites of the South by Ella Robinson. In it, I learned that four poets with ties to Georgia are honored with a monument in the downtown area in the 700 block of Greene Street. The four honorees are Sidney Lanier, Father Abram Ryan, James R. Randall and Paul Hamilton Hayne.
Lanier (1842-1881), a native of Macon, was ahead of his time in that he believed the South should be less reliant on cotton, and he was a lover of the arts. I mentioned Lanier in a post I wrote in January after a trip to Asheville, NC, where I visited the Richmond Hill Inn, a place connected to Lanier (to refresh your memory on this, click here). Lanier's birthplace home is still standing in Macon and is open to the public for tours. I intend to get down there to check it out sometime this year. I can't find any information on Lanier's connection to Augusta, however.

Ryan (1838-1886) is nicknamed "the poet of the Confederacy" and "the poet of the lost cause." He intended to be commissioned as a military chaplain for the Confederate Army, but wasn't accepted. Instead, he came along anyway and ministered to sick and wounded soldiers and edited a publication in New Orleans. He wrote two poems as a tribute to his brother, a soldier killed in action. Other poems followed. He later lived and worked in Augusta and edited more periodicals.Randall (1839-1908) wrote mostly historical poetry, including what's referred to as the "unofficial anthem of the Confederacy," "Maryland, My Maryland." After the Civil War ended, he became a newspaper editor in Augusta.

Hayne (1830-1886) was called "Poet Laureate of the South" during his day. After the Civil War ended, he moved to Augusta and edited a newspaper for only three months.

There is very, very little information available about this monument and how it came about. The biggest article I've found through Google searching is here.


  1. Betsy, I enjoyed your blog post about the poets' monument. You mentioned that Ryan lived in Augusta for a time and edited some periodicals. I can fill in a bit more detail: Ryan served in Augusta from Spring 1868 until April 1870, and during that time he edited the newspaper "The Banner of the South." In that weekly paper, Ryan published poems by all three of the other poets you mention: Lanier, Randall, and Hayne. One small correction: Ryan never formally applied to be a military chaplain, but served as a "free-lance" chaplain by his own preference and also by the preference of the southern Catholic bishops, who felt that formal commissions made it too difficult for their chaplains to minister to Catholic soldiers serving in regiments that happened to have commissioned chaplains who were Protestant. Free-lance chaplains had more leeway to move from regiment to regiment to minister to Catholic soldiers, who were usually in the small minority among their fellow southern soldiers. --Donald Beagle

  2. Great! Thanks so much, Donald. Helpful and interesting information.