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The War in Vanity Fair85 because everything else is crooked."73 To have included only the political scene in its humor would have been a failure to keep things balanced and straight. Even as one goes through the pages of Vanity Fair now, the need for some relief from war becomes apparent. War intensity may be lessened by laughing at some of its hardships, but there must be complete escape from it from time to time. In 1941, one of my college professors, weary of the increasingly gloomy headlines of Allied defeats, remarked that he would like just once to see the tabloid headline "Love Nest Raided" and to feel that there was no more momentous news to report. Vanity Fair must have felt much the same way when it ran as the cover of one issue a picture of a man, with his hands clasped in rapture, as he stood in a barnyard, looking at a bird. The caption read, "William Cullen Bryant As he appeared while enraptured with the lovely waterfowl to which he subsequently addressed a poem."74 This cover was one of the few non-war, non-political covers in the entire year. Such a desire to escape from the gloom must have prompted this space filler too: "The Great Literary Question of the Day. What will Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass be when they are dried and posterity has raked 'em — Hey?"75 73I (December 31, 18-59), p. 13. 74V (May 3, 1862), cover. 75?? (March 9, 1861), p. 118. THE CAVALIER'S SONG I'm a dashing young Southerner, gallant and tall; I am willing to fight, but unwilling to fall; I am willing to fight, but I think I may say, That I'm still more in favor of running away: So forth from my quarters I fearlessly go, With my feet to the field and my back to the foe! The life of a trooper is pleasure and ease, Just suited to sprigs of the old F.F.V.'s; No horrible wounds, and no midnight alarms, Should mar our fair skins, and get rust on our arms; Through the sweet sunny South we will tranquilly go, With our feet to the field and our backs to the foe! I own twenty niggers, of various shades, Who burnish my arms for our fancy parades; My horse prances sideways, curvetting along, And lovely eyes single me out from the throng Of dashing young Southerners, all in a row, With their feet to the field and their backs to the foe! My sword is gold-hilted, my charger is fleet; I am bullion and spangles from helmet to feet; I am fierce in my cups, and most savagely bent On slaying the Yankees . . . when safe in my tent; In short, if I'm timid, I know how to blow, With my feet to the field and my back to the foe! Tis well for the hireling myrmidon crew To shed vulgar blood for their Red, White, and Blue, But when they've attacked us, we always have beat—. . . Don't misunderstand—I mean, beat a retreatl. . . And the grass, I'll be sworn, has a poor chance to grow 'Neath our feet on the field, with our backs to the foe! Then bring me my horse! let me ride in the van,— A position I always secure, if I can; For the enemy hardly can hit me, I find, While running away with an army behind, As over the ground like a whirlwind I go, With my feet to the field and my back to the foe! Sometimes I put Sambo, and Cuffee, and Clem., Twixt me and the Yankees, who shoot into them; But when at close quarters, with pistol and knife, I find it much safer to run for my life; So the dust from my horse-shoes I haughtily throw, As I dash from the field with my back to the foe! The Northmen, to catch me, will have to ride fast, Though I have a misgiving they11 do it at last; And it cannot be other than awkward, I fear, To find a great knot underneath my left...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 85-86
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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