Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Oliver Wendell Holmes and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I collect vol.1 no.1 issues of magazines and serials (I have a blog about this), so when vol. 1 no.1 of The Atlantic Monthly was mentioned in this article about Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. my Library of America newsletter on-line I pulled my copy off the shelf and read "Every man his own Boswell." Interesting that in those days it didn't seem to be necessary to list the author's name.

" Everything changed in 1857 when James Russell Lowell, a fellow professor at Harvard, was hired as the editor of a new magazine, and he in turn insisted that his friend Holmes become one of its founding contributors. Initially hesitant, Holmes agreed and even suggested the magazine’s name, The Atlantic Monthly. Holmes then lit on the idea that would make him famous: reviving the Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table as a monthly column. Far more mature in style and content than the essays from a quarter-century earlier, each piece is written as a table conversation monopolized by the unnamed Autocrat, with interruptions (including poetry, stories, and jokes) from other residents—including the Professor, the Landlady’s Daughter, the Schoolmistress, the Poet, the Old Gentleman, the Divinity-Student, “the young fellow called John,” and others. The new and improved “Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table” appeared in the debut issue of The Atlantic (November 1857) and immediately became the most popular feature in a magazine that boasted works by such celebrities as Emerson, Whittier, and Longfellow."

So I kept browsing through the volume (bound) and looked through the next issue (no. 2) finding the poem "Catawba Wine" by Longfellow, also written in 1857. Had to research that one. Catawba Island up on Lake Erie is not named for Catawba Indians (as I always believed) but for the Catawba grape which is praised in this poem. Northern Ohio was big wine country (still is). Catawba wine was made in Cincinnati from Catawba grapes from the Catawba River in NC. 
"For richest and best/Is the wine of the West/ That grows by the Beautiful River/ whose sweet perfume fills all the room/ with a benison on the giver." . . .
 "And this Song of the Vine/ This greeting of mine/ The winds and the birds shall deliver/ To the Queen of the West,/In her garlands dressed,/ On the banks of the Beautiful River." 

Many names of wines in the poem, and rivers of several countries, but the Queen of the West and that river is Cincinnati on the Ohio River.

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