George Pope Morris (October 10, 1802 – July 6, 1864) was an American editor, poet, and songwriter.
Life and work
With Nathaniel Parker Willis, he co-founded the daily New York Evening Mirror by merging his fledgling weekly New York Mirror with Willis's American Monthly in August 1831. Morris is credited with the longevity the Evening Mirror would enjoy and for giving it a wide scope, covering not only news and entertainment but reviews of the fine arts, editorials, and many original engravings. Morris also funded in advance Willis's trip to Europe, for which Willis wrote several letters to be published in the Mirror, which helped establish his fame. On January 29, 1845, the Evening Mirror published an "advance copy" of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". It was the first publication of that poem with the author's name. The publishing partners also issued an anthology called The Prose and Poetry of America in 1845.
Willis and Morris left the Mirror in 1846 and founded a new weekly, the National Press, which was renamed the Home Journal after eight months. Beginning in 1854 his son William, who had graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1851, resigned from the Army and worked for the newspaper as an editor. Beginning in 1901, it was published as Town and Country and is still in print under that title today. Their prospectus for the publication, published November 21, 1846, announced their intentions to create a magazine "to circle around the family table".
In addition to his publishing and editorial work, Morris was popular as a poet and songwriter; especially well-known was his poem-turned-song "Woodman, Spare that Tree!" His songs in particular were popular enough that Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia promised Morris $50, sight unseen, for any work he wanted to publish in the periodical. "Woodman, Spare that Tree!" was first published in the January 17, 1837, issue of the Mirror under the title "The Oak" and was that year set to music by Henry Russell before being reprinted under its more common title in 1853. Lines from the poem are often quoted by environmentalists. The poem was also included in one of Morris's volumes of collected poems, The Deserted Bride and Other Poems, 1838, which ran into several editions.
Morris was friends with artist Robert Walter Weir to whom he dedicated his only book of prose, The Little Frenchman and His Water Lots (1839). A collection of short stories and sketches, the little Frenchman of the title story was the victim of an unscrupulous dealer in real estate bordering Wallabout Bay, that was under water at high tide.
Morris died July 6, 1864.Horace Binney Wallace wrote the introductory biographical notice for Morris's posthumous collected works.
Critic and writer Edgar Allan Poe acknowledged the popularity of Morris's songs, "which have taken fast hold upon the popular taste, and which are deservedly celebrated". In April 1840, Poe wrote that Morris was "very decidedly, our best writer of songs—and, in saying this, I mean to assign him a high rank as poet". Willis wrote of Morris: "He is just what poets would be if they sang like birds without criticism... nothing can stop a song of his".
Morris was one of several poets who were gently mocked by Bayard Taylor in his 1876 verse parody The Echo Club and Other Literary Diversions.
- The Deserted Bride and Other Poems (1838)
- The Little Frenchman and His Water Lots (1839)
- ^ abcSova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 160. ISBN 0-8160-4161-X
- ^Baker, Thomas N. Sentiment and Celebrity: Nathaniel Parker Willis and the Trials of Literary Fame. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 60. ISBN 0-19-512073-6
- ^Callow, James T. Kindred Spirits: Knickerbocker Writers and American Artists, 1807–1855. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967: 94.
- ^Baker, Thomas N. Sentiment and Celebrity: Nathaniel Parker Willis and the Trials of Literary Fame. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 68. ISBN 0-19-512073-6
- ^Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 208. ISBN 0-8160-4161-X
- ^Auser, Courtland P. Nathaniel P. Willis. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1969: 118.
- ^Auser, Courtland P. Nathaniel P. Willis. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1969: 125.
- ^Cullum, George Washington (1868). Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy. 2 (2nd ed.). Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin. p. 295. Retrieved 2015-03-27.
- ^Auser, Courtland P. Nathaniel P. Willis. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1969: 125–126.
- ^Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 223. ISBN 0-06-092331-8
- ^Oberholtzer, Ellis Paxson. The Literary History of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1906: 273–274. ISBN 1-932109-45-5.
- ^Gardner, Martin. Best Remembered Poems. Courier Dover Publications, 1992: 118. ISBN 0-486-27165-X
- ^Callow, James T. Kindred Spirits: Knickerbocker Writers and American Artists, 1807–1855. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967: 238.
- ^"New York Times Archives"(PDF). George P. Morris Obituary. July 8, 1864. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
- ^Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 169. ISBN 0-8160-4161-X
- ^Oberholtzer, Ellis Paxson. The Literary History of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1906: 293. ISBN 1-932109-45-5.
- ^Wermuth, Paul C. Bayard Taylor. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973: 163. ISBN 0-8057-0718-2.
Poetry Friday is hosted by Katya @ Write, Sketch, Repeat
The beautiful oak that graced our house for some 200 years has had to come down. We wrestled with this decision for a long time. Who in his right mind would willfully bring down something so beautiful and true? But the storms that we’ve seen recently were terrifying, and our oak stood shoulder to shoulder with our house – too close for comfort. My husband was home to greet the crew, and all day I received photographs of this dreadful process . It began raining as I drove home – even the sky was weeping. And now we are safe, but there is a hole in our hearts, and we are a house in mourning. I avert my eyes when I drive by our house. I feel the absence of our steadfast friend.
Woodman, Spare That Tree
by George Pope Morris
WOODMAN, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I’ll protect it now.
‘Twas my forefather’s hand
That placed it near his cot;
There, woodman, let it stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not!
That old familiar tree,
Whose glory and renown
Are spread o’er land and sea,
And wouldst thou hew it down?
Woodman, forbear thy stroke!
Cut not its earth-bound ties;
O, spare that aged oak,
Now towering to the skies!
When but an idle boy
I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy
Here too my sisters played.
My mother kissed me here;
My father pressed my hand —
Forgive this foolish tear,
But let that old oak stand!
My heart-strings round thee cling,
Close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing,
And still thy branches bend.
Old tree! the storm still brave!
And, woodman, leave the spot;
While I’ve a hand to save,
Thy axe shall hurt it not.
Posted in Poetry Friday