2 by Byron Herbert Reece

Ballad of the Bones
Copyright, 1945, 1985 edition
Checked out one time in 26 years
Last checked out 25 years ago

Bow Down in Jericho
Copyright 1950, 1985 edition
Checked out one time in 26 years
Last checked out 25 years ago

Byron Herbert Reece is a Georgia poet of the 1940s and 50s who has left behind some very singular tales in ballad form. Through the trust fund of a patron, the Albertville library has all of his poetry volumes (4) in their re-released 1985 editions. They strike me as an odd choice unless his works were specified in the trust. And they might have been. Reece has a following and a society dedicated to his works and memory. The books have a variety of poetry but his narratives, tales usually set in Southern Appalachia. Most of the poetry rhymes, and his ballads, often with eerie subject matter, beg to be spoken aloud at a fireside. Since he was a farmer, his poetry is very close to the land and rural people. And he is clearly steeped in the Bible as the title of the second book mentioned above indicates. These books sitting on the shelves of the Albertville library have been read only once, but I think if they were exposed to the light a little, people would enjoy them. Unfortunately, a lack of interest in poetry can be hard to cure. Here’s a sampling of “Ballad of the Rider” (a dark, romantic, enchanting tale) from Ballad of the Bones:

“This lady of the search,” said they,
“How shall we know her as
The one you seek, if on a day
She chance this way to pass?”

“To cold she is the warming sun,
To desert thirst, a flood;
She is the cool of summer dawn,
And a fever in the blood.”

Among the rounded hills
That step up from the sea,
He rested on the brown pine spills
To make his inquiry.

“A twelvemonth past she came,” they said,
But she has journeyed on,
Singing upon a road that led
Into the gates of dawn.”

I’m riding the fence on this one. A casual glance at these two books of the four reveals poetry that the people of this area should enjoy, yet they don’t seem to know to pick them up. Keep them despite virtually no circulation in hopes they catch on some day? Or discard and let them drift to someone who will appreciate them? I’m glad it’s not ultimately my decision to make.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
This entry was posted in Adventures in 811 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s