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.

III. Poets of the Civil War II

§ 7. Hayne

Of the group of friends and younger men who gathered about Simms, the most promising was Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–86). The descendant of several generations of Carolina gentlemen and gentlewomen, he had deliberately turned away from the attractive profession of law and politics and had definitely chosen literature as his profession. In his first published poem he had announced his dedication to the poet’s life in words that are in striking contrast to the views of the Southern people in general, and even of Southern poets, who had looked on the writing of poetry as a pastime and not a passion. Before the war he had edited Russell’s Magazine (1857–60) and had published three volumes of poetry—poems characterized by a certain imitativeness and yet a genuine love of nature and a feeling for idyllic life. When the war came he volunteered, only to find that his delicate health would not allow him to share the hardships of a campaign. From the first, however, he hailed his native state as his mother, who, like a priestess “blessed with wondrous vision of the things to come,” would not wait till the sister nations would join her in the conflict. While he wrote constantly of many incidents of the war in other places, Charleston was the centre of his tenderest affections; perhaps his greatest poem of those years was The Battle of Charleston Harbor. In certain reminiscences that he wrote after the war, as well as in the poems written during the war, one realizes what a charm this city, with its distinct flavour and atmosphere, had for him. If to Henry James and Owen Wister Charleston is today “the most appealing, the most lovely, the most wistful town in America,” how much more so was it to a sensitive soul who from infancy had known its legends and its history, and whose most tragic thought in his later life was that he was an exile from the City by the Sea.