Dan Emmett Writes “Dixie,” 1859

By Rachel Richardson Rachel Richardson
He started with the tune his mother had hummed
in Ohio, nostalgia he’d carried for years,
and by Sunday afternoon he had the words.
A triumph, already; he whistled the banjo’s part.
 
(Himself a sympathizer from the North,
called copperhead, called traitor by his own kin.)
 
Something lively, some git-up-and-git they’d wanted
and didn’t he deliver—
Miss Susan got seven encores the first night.
That gave them their tune, their Negro walk-around—
 
Look away, look away, look away, they sang.
Vipers, that spring, spread thick on the ground.

Rachel Richardson, “Dan Emmett Writes ‘Dixie,’ 1859” from Copperhead. Copyright © 2011 by Rachel Richardson. Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: Copperhead (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011)

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Poet Rachel Richardson

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Rachel   Richardson

Biography

Poet Rachel Richardson was born and raised in Berkeley, California. She earned a BA at Dartmouth College, an MFA at the University of Michigan, and an MA in folklore at the University of North Carolina.
 
The author of the poetry collection Copperhead (2011), Richardson’s poetry investigates the disjunctions of remembered and recorded history. Discussing the overlap between her method of poetic composition and her graduate . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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