June 25, 2014

McCann on Saltus: a genius died

After Francis Saltus Saltus's midnight death, his friend John Ernest McCann was immediately inspired to write a poem to the deceased poet. Simply titled "Francis S. Saltus," the poem's three stanzas pay tribute to a multi-talented genius, and is dated June 25, 1889:

A genius died last night, about whose brow
   Fame never twined the laurel and the rose.
   A master he of music, verse and prose,
Who lived, laughed, loved, and suffered, to endow

The world with buds and blossoms from the bough
   That sways within the garden where Thought grows
   When the gale of Inspiration madly blows
The daisies of sweet Song before God's plow!

Ah! who can wear the laurel, now he's dead?
   Not one among the many whom he knew!
      Pluck not the leaf for any—leave it there;
And Time will weave it for his wondrous head,
   And Fame may bear it up beyond the blue—
      To where he sits and laughs with Baudelaire! 

Saltus and McCann were close enough that they collaborated on at least three poems, which McCann published the next year in his compilation Songs from an Attic. That collection also included his memorial verses to Saltus, though it was altered to combine the first two stanzas into one longer stanza. In his poem, McCann (who was more well known as a playwright than a poem) also acknowledges Saltus's inspiration from French poet Charles Baudelaire, whose lifestyle was equally influential on Saltus; like Baudelaire, he had a strong affinity for alcohol, particularly absinthe.


  1. This is so sad news for me my blog http://www.guruofmovie.com was dedicated to him

  2. Sorry the news is only reaching you only 125 years late. Or is this just spam?