Henry Timrod

American Literature

Henry Timrod (December 8, 1828—October 7, 1867) had published well-crafted but otherwise unremarkable love poems before the advent of the Civil War gave him his great theme. Several of Timrod’s poems stand out as the most memorable of all writings about the war by Southern authors. He has been called the “Laureate of the Confederacy.” In poems such as “Spring,” “Rain,” “Charleston,” and the remarkable sonnet “I know not why,” Henry Timrod caught something of the pathos of the occasion and a sense of apprehension and despair. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, he attended school with Paul Hamilton Hayne and later studied at the University of Georgia. As a member of the Russell’s Bookstore group, he was friendly with Charleston’s literati, and for Russell’s Magazine he wrote several essays that are among the better literary criticism produced in the antebellum South. Henry Timrod is, after Edgar Allan Poe, critically regarded as the most important Southern poet of the nineteenth century. He died of tuberculosis on October 7, 1867—eighteen years to the day after the death of Poe.


Sonnet 9 - I Know Not Why


The Cotton Boll



The Unknown Dead

Ode at Magnolia Cemetery


Literature in the South