Georgia Poet Sidney Lanier Died in Polk County

Image from the Georgia Division of Archives and History.On September 7, 1881, Sidney Lanier, widely-acclaimed poet, author and musician, died at his home in Polk County.

A Georgia native, Lanier spent time in North Carolina during the Civil War when his unit was assigned to help construct Fort Fisher. While there he wrote some of his earliest poetry. After transferring to the Confederate Signal Corps, Lanier was assigned to a fleet of blockade runners that operated out of the lower Cape Fear River. In 1864, he was captured just off Fort Fisher by the Union Navy. While confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, he translated several literary works and reflected on his wartime experiences. His 1867 novel, Tiger-Lilies, was based in part on his Civil War service.

Lanier contracted tuberculosis after his release in 1865 and, from then on struggled through intermittent bouts of disease. He moved to Asheville in 1881, shortly before moving again to Lynn in Polk County. It was in Lynn where he wrote his last poems and succumbed to his illness.

The house Lanier occupied in Lynn still stands, along with a library that bears his name in nearby Tryon. He was immortalized in stone at Duke Chapel in Durham, as one of the three “Great Men of the South.”

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