July 17, 2012

Birth of Meek: Rose of Alabama

Alexander Beaufort Meek was born in South Carolina on July 17, 1814. He later became better associated with Alabama, where his family moved after a 46-day journey when the future writer was about five years old. At age 15, he attended the University of Georgia before transferring to the newly founded University of Alabama. He passed the bar in Alabama and became a practicing lawyer at age 21; he served as the state's Attorney General for several months in 1836. He later served as a state legislator, even taking the role of Speaker of the House for a time.

Meek was also a writer and orator. He wrote several poems inspired by his experience as a Southerner, and also founded or edited a handful of periodicals with the intention of promoting Southern literature and culture. In his 1857 book, Songs and Poems of the South, Meek noted that "the poetry of a country should be a faithful expression of its physical and moral characteristics" and using imagery "drawn from the indigenous objects of the region." After all, he said, "the Scenery infuses itself into the Song." His poem "The Rose of Alabama":

I loved, in boyhood's happy time,
When life was like a minstrel's rhyme,
And cloudless as my native clime,
                The Rose of Alabama.
             Oh, lovely rose!
             The sweetest flower earth knows,
                Is the Rose of Alabama!

One pleasant, balmy night in June,
When swung, in silvery clouds, the moon,
My heart awoke love's vesper tune,
             For Rose of Alabama!

She caught the strain, and to the bower,
Impelled by love and music's power,
Stole like an angel, at that hour,
             The Rose of Alabama!

Beside me there her form she placed,
My arm stole gently 'round her waist,
And earth seemed with new beauty graced,
             By Rose of Alabama!

The breeze and streamlet ceased their tone;
Like winged gems the fire-flies shone;
The flowers gazed envious on my own
             Sweet Rose of Alabama!

'Tis vain our mutual vows to tell—
One strain upon my plaintive shell,
And then I bade a sad farewell
             To Rose of Alabama!

Long years have passed; by fortune driven,
I wander 'neath a stranger heaven;
But, ah! love's ties are not yet riven
             From Rose of Alabama!

Hope smiles upon my pilgrim way,
Ere long my feet shall homeward stray,
And time bring round my nuptial day
             With Rose of Alabama!

Then, shrine-like, in my native land,
Love's Eden! shall my cottage stand,
With happiness on every hand!
             Sweet Rose of Alabama!

No comments:

Post a Comment