The immortal bard of somewhere in South Carolina

J. Gordon Coogler at work.
J. Gordon Coogler at work.

For the past few years I’ve thought that one of the most glaring omissions from Wikipedia (that most praised and blamed of websites) was an article on South Carolina bard J. Gordon Coogler, who penned the deathless lines

Alas! for the South, her books have grown fewer—
She never was much given to literature.

Coogler imagined these two lines to be a complete poem. He sent innumerable booklets of his work to literary journals in the 1890s, and before long newspaper editors in the North were quoting his lines with glee. Coogler’s immortality was assured when H.L. Mencken chose this poem as the motto for his gloating essay on southern backwardness, “The Sahara of the Bozart.” *

Coogler’s name still pops up from time to time as the ultimate poetaster. Conservative pundit R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr. has bestowed the Coogler name on an annual booby prize he awards to books he doesn’t like. (The award would be funnier if Tyrell could manage to ridicule his targets without also trying to drown them in buckets of venom. † )

I thought this deficiency at Wikipedia would be remedied in time. But the other day, finding this deplorable gap in knowledge still unfilled, I stole a couple of hours, did some research, and wrote a Coogler article my own self.


* Sadly unavailable online due to copyright.
† In other words, the kind of thing that passes for humor at FreeRepublic.com.

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