Savage Songs & Wild Romances considers the various types of poetry – from short songs and laments to lengthy ethnographic epics – which nineteenth-century settlers wrote about indigenous peoples as they moved into new territories in North America, South Africa, and Australasia. Drawing on a variety of texts (some virtually unknown), the author demonstrates the range and depth of this verse, suggesting that it exhibited far more interest in, and sympathy for, indigenous peoples than has generally been acknowledged. In so doing, he challenges both the traditional view of this poetry as derivative and eccentric, and more recent postcolonial condemnations of it as racist and imperialist. Instead, he offers a new, more positive reading of this verse, whose openness towards the presence of the indigenous Other he sees as an early expression of the tolerance and cultural relativity characteristic of modern Western society.Writers treated include George Copway, Alfred Domett, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, George McCrae, Thomas Pringle, George Rusden, Lydia Sigourney, and Alfred Street.
About the Author
John O’Leary specializes in the study of settler writing about indigenous peoples. His articles and reviews have appeared in American, British, Australian, and New Zealand scholarly journals; Savage Songs & Wild Romances is his first book. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
Table of Contents
AcknowledgementsIllustrationsIntroductionTexts in Context: Nineteenth-Century Settler Culture“Bold, unfettered rhapsodies”: Nineteenth-Century Versifications of Indigenous Orature“We owe them all that we possess”: ‘Savage’ Songs and Laments“Unlocking the fountains of the heart”: Settler Verse and the Politics of SympathyIndigenous Romeos & Juliets: Romantic Verse Melodramas“In their strange customs versed”: Ethnographic Verse EpicsConclusionAppendixWorks CitedIndex