Thursday, December 15, 2016

Honoring the fullness of the past …

… It's a Battlefield | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Over the years, I have published several articles on Pinkerton, in hopes of bringing her metaphysical lyrics to a wider audience. I see now, however, that I have given short shrift to what may be her most lasting contribution to American letters, her five dramatic monologues in blank verse on the subject of the Civil War. These, I believe, will become classics: miniature epics that, like Virgil's Aeneid, draw public history and private tragedy into a poetic whole.
The monologues trace their source to her lifelong study of Melville. She discovered, in the background of the novelist's work, the moral and political questions percolating through the antebellum debate over slavery. Although zealots—abolitionists and "fire eaters"—sought to reduce politics to simple ideology, the greatest men of the age saw that they must steer between evils for the good of the country—often at tragic cost.

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