Sonnet: I Thank You
By Henry Timrod
I thank you, kind and best beloved friend,
With the same thanks one murmurs to a sister,
When, for some gentle favor, he hath kissed her,
Less for the gifts than for the love you send,
Less for the flowers, than what the flowers convey;
If I, indeed, divine their meaning truly,
And not unto myself ascribe, unduly,
Things which you neither meant nor wished to say,
Oh! tell me, is the hope then all misplaced?
And am I flattered by my own affection?
But in your beauteous gift, methought I traced
Something above a short-lived predilection,
And which, for that I know no dearer name,
I designate as love, without love’s flame.
Source: The Collected Poems of Henry Timrod (1965)
Since Henry Timrod’s output before the Civil War was limited to verse sufficient only for a single volume—published in December 1859—his literary reputation at the time was modest. The political activities surrounding the formation of a new nation and the impact of the war itself aroused Timrod’s poetic imagination, however, and he quickly became widely known as the literary spokesman and eventually as the so-called poet laureate of the Confederacy, an unofficial title he has retained ever since. After the war, poor health associated with the complications of tuberculosis and abject poverty related to political and social conditions in South Carolina during Reconstruction made it impossible for Timrod to fulfill the promise or equal the achievement of his wartime performance, and he died in 1867, two months before his thirty-ninth birthday.
As a southern man who love poetry, history, and lost causes, who better to give my heartfelt thanks than the poet laureate of the Confederacy, Henry Timrod. When I wrote my post on Monday, I was not prepared for the response I received. I had merely wanted to explain my situation, though it took an extra post and a lot of soul searching and gut wrenching realizations. I agonized over both of those posts. I wrote and revised Monday’s post many times over the weekend, and revised and revised my post on Tuesday many times before I was satisfied with it. Like I said, I was not prepared nor had I even expected the outpouring of comments and emails. So many of you have been so encouraging and understanding of the position I find myself in currently. You all have given me hope and renewed my spirit. Thank my friends for I “know no dearer name, I designate as love, without love’s flame.” For I will hold the flame of love close to my heart until it burns brightly for a man for whom I can share my life and passions.