Theodore Roosevelt a Verse Sequence

Russell Ignatius Jones Wilbur


Excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt a Verse Sequence: In Sonnets and Quatorzains

All these sonnets and fourteeners, with three exceptions, were written while Colonel Roosevelt was still living; to be more nearly exact, just about six months before his death.

For all their romantic-fantastic character and metrical form these verses constitute, for the most part, a contemporary political document. Their tenor and sentiment presuppose Colonel Roosevelt to be, as when they were written, the predominant leader of the reconstituted Republican Party, the preeminent "possibility" of that party as a presidential candidate for the year 1920. They cannot be read understandingly except in view of these presuppositions.

There are thirty-eight pieces in all, written, with four exceptions, during the month from June 23 to July 24, 1918; between twenty-five and thirty of them during the three weeks ending July 14, the date of the death in battle of Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt.

This goes to say that the Sequence had received its set, so to speak, and its tone before this grim sorrow and the fortitude with which it was borne elevated the subject of these pieces to a plane upon which the freedom and ribaldry of criticism with which he is treated in this little work seem somewhat unfeeling and irreverent.

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