Marshes of Glynn by Sidney Lanier

One of our favorite things about working at Fort Frederica National Monument is living next to the Marshes of Glynn.  The salt marshes along the tidal rivers are beautiful, swaying organisms, full of life.  Tom and I love to walk along the Frederica River and see the marshes at low tide and high tide, at sunrise and sunset, and at all times in between.  We don’t always like everything that comes out of the marshes – sand gnats and marsh flies – but the marshes themselves are always beautiful.

I am not the only person who thinks the Marshes of Glynn are beautiful.  Sidney Lanier was a poet who spent a lot of time in Glynn County.  Lanier fought in the Civil War and felt peaceful when he gazed at the Marshes of Glynn.  He wrote a famous poem about the Marshes of Glynn that most people in the area have heard of.  Most people outside Glynn County have not.  The poem was written in 1878 and the language is difficult.  The poem is also long.

But, by immortalizing the Marshes of Glynn in the poem, Sidney Lanier put Glynn County in the spotlight.  The longest bridge in Georgia is just south of Brunswick and it is named after Sidney Lanier.  From the bridge you can see miles of the Marshes of Glynn stretching out before you.

In an effort to get more exercise while we have been working at Fort Frederica, I have been taking an early morning walk almost every day.  I do a three mile loop on the days we don’t work, and do the one mile nature trail to work on days I have to report to the Visitors Center.  Five days a week I walk along the Frederica River and the Marshes of Glynn.  Sometimes Tom and I also walk the nature trail in the evening, especially if we know the sunset is going to be pretty.

Each of these days I took a picture of the fort with the Frederica River and the Marshes of Glynn spread out into the distance.  It is a beautiful, calming, peaceful view and my iPhone doesn’t capture it very well.  But I thought I would share with you some of the pictures and a portion of the Sidney Lanier poem.  It is my farewell to the marshes and to Fort Frederica for this year.

The Marshes of Glynn (excerpt)

Of the dim sweet woods, of the dear dark woods,
Of the heavenly woods and glades,
That run to the radiant marginal sand-beach within
The wide sea-marshes of Glynn;–

Affable live-oak, leaning low,–
Thus–with your favor–soft, with a reverent hand,
(Not lightly touching your person, Lord of the land!)
Bending your beauty aside, with a step I stand
On the firm-packed sand,
By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.
Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering band
Of the sand-beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land.
Inward and outward to northward and southward the beach-lines linger and curl.

Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free
Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea!
Tolerant plains, that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun,
Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightily won
God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain
And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain.

As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God:
I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies
In the freedom that fills all the space ‘twixt the marsh and the skies:
By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod
I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God:
Oh, like to the greatness of God is the greatness within
The range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.