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.

II. Poets of the Civil War I

§ 4. Boker; Bayard Taylor; Read

Less important than Brownell as a war poet was George Henry Boker, a native of Pennsylvania, who, though primarily a dramatist, was from 1861 to 1871 the efficient secretary of the Union League of Philadelphia, and prominent in patriotic activities throughout the struggle. His Poems of the War appeared in 1864. It contained a few pieces, some of them still remembered, which adequately represent the faith and deep feeling of that time. Most interesting are the Dirge for a Soldier, On Board the Cumberland, The Ballad of New Orleans, Upon the Hill before Centreville, The Black Regiment, The Battle of Lookout Mountain. Boker’s lyrics, however, lack the passionate truthfulness of Brownell’s, and play too much with allegory and ancient mythology for the best effect. The Dirge, called forth by the death of General Kearny, is spontaneous and haunting. Bayard Taylor, a friend of Boker, while ardently sympathetic toward the Union cause, and a speaker in its behalf in America and England, shows a slighter imprint of the conflict in his verse. Even his National Ode, delivered on a great occasion in 1876, failed to rise to the dignity and power expected of it. It seems, for all its large weight of thought and knowledge, unimportant when compared with Lowell’s Commemoration Ode. Still a third Pennsylvanian, Thomas Buchanan Read, wrote, in Sheridan’s Ride, one of the most rousing of all the martial ballads called forth by the war.