Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sometimes I Find Amazing Things ....

I've written previously about shopping in the Goodwill and other thrift stores. I buy many of my books there. I couldn't afford to feed my book habit otherwise.

Yesterday, on the way to work, I stopped at the nearest Goodwill. I bought two books. One was a fantasy novel from the 1970's. I read bits of it at work. Well done. I like it. The other is a book of poems by P. C. Hayes entitled War Verse and Other Verse. I read all of this at work. (Other than a bit of excitement early in the night, it was really quiet, especially after two a.m.)

There is a gift inscription on the front end paper. It reads, "To Marjorie Hayes, From Her Grandfather, Philip C. Hayes -- Joliet, Ill., Nov. 26, 1914." The war poems are about the Civil War. Most of them are unexceptional, though with a good edit they would have been better. But they are all full of feeling. You feel the emotion, even if the poetry is usually amateurish.

I puzzled all night over the author's name. It nagged at me, as if I should know who P. C. Hayes was. Philip Cornelius Hayes was a captain in the 103rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry. By war's end he had been brevetted as Brigadier General. It's not everyday one finds an autograph of a Civil War general.

When I get time, I'll copy out the one poem I think better than the others.


  1. Gary I8:23 AM

    Hi Pixie,

    I had a few minutes on a Sunday morning and thought I'd chime in. War diaries, journals, poems, letters, sketches and photographs are a gold-mine for the historian and historical fiction writer. You get an immediacy, an intimacy and a level of detail that allows you to better imagine what it was like to experience those long past events first hand. Moreover, in the process of imagining you can relate to common human experience that crosses centuries and makes the past come alive.

    When "Confessions of the Creature" was at the editing stage, Connie Neil had a great suggestion -- I added a War Journal. That had two positive effects: First, it trimmed some of the Napoleonic War narrative and second, and perhaps more importantly, it gave that narrative more of a "You are there" sense that heightened the dramatic impact.


    Gary I

  2. Dear Gary,

    I agree. And I like obscure poetry book. These are privately printed usually. In Pixie Warrior I quote from a poem no one remembers today.

    It was probably the only decent bit of poetry in the book, and it fit my story. Finding things that fit the dialogue and era is fun, and it lends realism to the story.

    I found the poem in Mountain Idylls and Other Poems by A. C. King. The book was published in 1901, and much of the poetry is about the N. California S. Oregon forests that are the setting for the first half of the book.

    Fun Stuff.

  3. Oh, big mistake ... sorry. While some of the poetry is about the Redwoods and west coast forests, King wrote primarily about the Rocky Mountains.