The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

IV. The New South: Lanier

§ 38. Fidelity to his Section

Nature was to him almost equally dear, and even more Southern in its appeal. He found nothing within to answer to the wild and rugged majesty of the mountains. He felt no expansion of the soul in viewing the limitless plains of Texas. The broad sand-flats of Florida roused only a longing for the Georgia hills. Indeed, the only scene which called forth a love of broad, free places was the long and often viewed marshes at Brunswick, Georgia, which will go down in American literature in the eloquent and musical Marshes of Glynn. It remains true, however, that his love for nature was a delicate and passionate love, the love of an attentive and scrupulous observer of leaves and plants and the thousand minute details of the summer woods. So personal was the solace and uplifting of nature that he addressed her various forms with terms of endearment, more warm than Tabb, yet precisely like St. Francis of Assisi. He sings of the “fair cousin Cloud,” the “friendly, sisterly, sweetheart leaves.” Of himself it was true that,

  • With hands agrope he felt smooth nature’s grace,
  • Drew her to breast and kissed her sweetheart face.
  • The Southern aspect of nature lives again in his verse.