The Immortal Legions by Bert Henderson

Copyright 1966
Checked out 2 times in 40 years
Last checked out 3 years ago

Bert Henderson was Alabama’s third poet laureate, serving from 1959 to 1974. Immortal Legions is a fitting project for a poet laureate. It memorializes a variety of players in the Civil War, focusing on the Confederate side. Is it great poetry? No. But it’s a decent melding of poetry and history. I think Henderson’s decision to tell the stories of people more than events was wise. It gives the poems interest beyond the rhyming record of battles it might have been. The book includes a surprising number of poems about women (5 out of 35) considering when it was written. Their inclusion highlights Henderson’s effort throughout to provide different perspectives on the war.

I’m guessing this book hasn’t had much circulation because lovers of history don’t think to go to the poetry section. If you’re wanting to write a paper for a class, you can’t very well cite a book of poetry as the source of your information on Jeb Stuart. Nevertheless, this book should remain on the shelves because of its Southern subject matter, its accessibility, and its Alabamian author. It may eventually have to be discarded because of deteriorating pages, but it’s in good shape now and will likely hold up for many more years.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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