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This slim little volume of eight poems by Gershom Wiborn of Victor, NY, bears no imprint regarding publisher or place, just a date (1886), which seems to be long after at least some of the verses were penned . A couple of the poems had been previously published in the Pontiac Jacksonian and Street and Smiths Weekly.
Why Rural Poems? In several, one can hear the longing in Wiborn's voice for the agrarian life of yore, before the great American forests were felled, before the natives were pushed out. In the poem "The Aged Indian of the Genesee," the speaker compares the white man to a vine that overtook the tall, rugged pine that was the Indian nation. "Where's our rich hunting grounds? When this query we've pressd, / The white man has answered, and re-answered "West."
The author seems of two minds regarding the progress of the age, celebrating and lamenting it by turns. "Modern Inventions" is a wide-eyed paean to the marvels of steam transportation, yet Wiborn manages to put this human accomplishment in its place beside the once-wondrous inventions of the ancients.
The value of Rural Poems lies in its strength as a primary source, embodying contemporary reflection on a transitional period in our nation's history. In these poems, Wiborn attempts to link his age with past ages, declaring that theres nothing new, really, under the sun. Human endeavor, war (three of the eight poems deal with American Civil War, still being fought at time of their writing), and invention are as much a part of Nature as is the physical world—a world he seems to love deeply.
(summary written by Liz Argentieri)
Milne Library Publishing
Wiborn, Gershom, "Rural Poems" (1886). Genesee Valley Historical Reprints. 3.
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