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Song of the Chattahoochee Criticism

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Sidney Lanier's literary reputation rises and falls to the degree that critics value musical poetry. The criticism on "Song of the Chattahoochee" illustrates this battle of fashions. Critics at the end of the nineteenth century valued Lanier's melodious verse highly. Asserting that Lanier wrote better when he wrote unself-consciously, Edmund Clarence Stedman says that "Song of the Chattahoochee" is one of the poems that show Lanier's poetic gifts "unadulterated by meditations on rhythmical structure," and he calls it "almost as haunting as [Edgar Allan Poe's] 'Ulalume.'" Charles Kent calls the poem "one of the most musical of English poems," remarking on the frequent use of alliteration, internal rhyme, and syzygy, or the repetition of similar sounds, both consonants and vowels, throughout neighboring words. He concludes that "The effect of the whole is musical beyond description. It sings itself and yet nowhere sacrifices the thought."

Twentieth-century critics are...

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This section contains 415 words
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Poetry for Students
Song of the Chattahoochee from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.