Posts Tagged ‘Claiborne Addison Young’

Claiborne Addison Young – Alone

February 27, 2012

A reader commented on a previous post, Speaking of Collard Greens, wanting more information about the author, whose book somehow ended up in Jamaica! Here is what I was able to find:


I saw an eagle cleave the air;
He flew alone.
I tracked a lion to his lair;
He crouched alone.
A river started to the sea;
It wound alone.
A mountain rose up haughtily;
It towered alone.
I looked into eternity, —
Lo ! God was alone.
And then I sang on cheerily,
But not alone.


One can better appreciate Mr. Young’s verse with some insight into his antecedents, his life and his personality. Claiborne Addison Young was born May 29, 1843, in Boone County, Indiana, near Thorntown. He came of a race of pioneers. He was the son of the Rev. Claiborne Young, who was born at Stony Creek, East Tennessee, and educated for the Presbyterian ministry at Maryville College. His mother was Mary Russell Young, born at Maryville, Tenn. Her brother, Addison Russell, was for many years a prominent judge at Fort Madison, Iowa. In 1831 Mr. Young’s father came to Montgomery County, Indiana, to organize the three churches of Shannondale, Thorntown and Lebanon. It was a time when life in Indiana was primitive and coon skins were a legal tender for taxes and marriage fees. The father was one of the most conscientious of men and this characteristic, with others, the son seems to have inherited.

The poet’ was brave, patriotic, impulsive, sometimes almost erratic, always genuine and spontaneous. Captain Young served through the Civil War, enlisting at the first call with General Lew Wallace in the Eleventh Indiana. He afterward received a commission in the Eighty-fifth United States Colored Infantry, which he assisted in organizing, and served in that command until the close of the war, with credit and distinction.

Image from Factasy — Below, Civil War records are from

Name: Claiborn A Young
Residence:     Montgomery County, Indiana
Enlistment Date: 31 Aug 1861
Rank at enlistment: Private
State Served: Indiana
Survived the War: Yes
Service Record: Enlisted in Company G, Indiana 11th Infantry Regiment on 31 Aug 1861.
Mustered out on 02 Jan 1864.
Commissioned an officer in on 02 Jan 1864.
Sources: Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana

American Civil War Soldiers
Name: Claiborn Young
Residence:     Montgomery County, Indiana
Enlistment Date: 31 Aug 1861
Side Served: Union
State Served: Indiana
Service Record: Enlisted as a Private on 31 August 1861.
Enlisted in Company G, 11th Infantry Regiment Indiana on 31 Aug 1861.
Commission in Regiment U.S. Colored Troops on 2 Jan 1864.
Discharged for promotion Company G, 11th Infantry Regiment Indiana on 2 Jan 1864.
Sources: 76

When the war was over he returned to Wabash College and received his A. B. in 1869. After graduation he matriculated at Union Theological Seminary, intending to become a minister in accord with the tenets of that great school. But a change came upon his theologic vision and he entered the Harvard Divinity School, which he calls “The Minister Mill.” Before the “Mill” had turned out the finished product he went to the forests of Maine to engage in missionary work among the lumbermen. Later he entered the Unitarian ministry, filling pulpits in Boston and other places in the East and the Middle West. The great griefs of his life were the loss of his wife and son.

He died November 3, 1912, in the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home at Lafayette, so nobly provided by the state of Indiana for her veterans. Like Thoreau and Joaquin Miller, he loved Nature as God made her, uncombed, unbridled by art and unharnessed by commerce. He wandered wide, from the Maine woods to the plains of Texas, from the Cumberland Mountains and the Carolinas to the land of the Modocs. His view of Nature is that of Wordsworth—the Omnipotent Divine Spirit ever revealing His presence in all forms of life. When one of his old professors reminded him of what did not happen to the “rolling stone,” he replied that he was “not in the moss business.”

Mr. Young’s sympathies were always with the “under dog” and his heart and labors went out warmly to the freedmen and the red men. He loved solitude and the lonely places and now and then he reminds one in his life and his song of that other lonely poet, Richard Realf. Many songs, doubtless, sung themselves to his heart in those solitary wanderings, that never found expression.

His first volume of verse was published in 1897 under the title “Way Songs and Wanderings,” and a few of these “Way Songs” are included in this volume. His letter in verse to his brother, “The Frogs of Boone,” he recited to Emerson, who much enjoyed it, and the elder poet and philosopher greatly encouraged the younger singer. His love of freedom and lack of sympathy with conventions led him at times over hard and stony paths but he ever kept a brave heart and never lost faith in God, or man, or life.

This soldier, wanderer, preacher and poet is no mere echo. His song is unconventional and spontaneous. As he traveled Life’s furrowed roads, and went up the many hills of difficulty, he kept on good terms with truth and loyalty and held the faith that the word “all is good” had never been taken back. He has, even in forms of construction that are faulty, the genuine lyric spirit. His motto seems to have been Walt Whitman’s “Allons ! Let us be going after the great companions.”

J. E. C.

The above poem, biography an image are all from the following book:

In the Red Man’s Land and Other Poems
by Claiborne Addison Young.
Publisher: The Hollenbeck Press in Indianapolis 1915
Read online at Open Library


A Claiborne Addison Young poem, The Chickadee, was included in the following:

THE CHICKADEE (Volume 1: Verse)
A Public Domain Project
Published by Gull City Press 2008
Page 24  (scroll down to page 24)

Speaking of Collard Greens

February 15, 2012

Image from Austin360

Speaking of collards, we note a very funny paragraph in Uncle Frank Sanborn’s literary letter to The Springfield Republican. He is reviewing in an appreciative way a book of poems (“Way-Songs and Wanderings”) by Claiborne Addison Young. This poet, who is a new-comer, and who seems to have come to stay, has a beautiful lyric on the subject of collards. It is entitled “Texas Vision.” Mr. Sanborn quotes it to show that Mr. Young has “thought, fancy and sentiment in plenty” — “if the reader only knew what collards are; a prairie sunflower, or climbing rose, perhaps, with its wind-tossed blossoms!” Well, as Mr. Sanborn has taken the pains to quote the ode to collards in full we cannot do better than to follow his example:

Many friends and I,
Collards bright and gay,
Jocund as the day;
This is what they say
While to and fro they sway:
“We nod to every breeze,
We’re gods of grace and ease.”

They at my window lean,
And whispering, seem to nod
And peer, as doth some god
At toiling son of sod;
Yet when again they lean,
They shift like shifting scene,
They weave into my dream.

The dead and quick they seem;
Past, present — warp and woof,
The Great no more aloof;
Socrates, Montaigne,
And Emerson, the Plain,
Carlyle, great Sham-killer,
And Love-melodious Miller,
And Byron, son of Scorn,
And Rousseau, passion-torn,
Grasp hands, shake hands, are brothers,
Are sons of self-same mothers.

They bid me rise and stand,
They reach and clasp my hand;
They deign to call me brother —
Aye, son of self-same mother.
Ah! there the vision’s gone,
And collards still wave on:
“A joke, a thing to please;
We’re gods of grace and ease;
Like Alcibiades
Our mission is to please;
Trust not half we say
As to and fro we sway.”

We thank the muses that a man has at last arisen who can see, and feel, and express the poetry of the kitchen garden collards — coleworts, Mr. Sanborn, and the finest of all our garden “sass.” They are to be eaten only after frost fails. From that moment until far in the winter they are the dainties of the vegetable world — always supposing that they are prepared by an expert.

If allowed to remain in the garden during the winter, they send up long central stalks in the early spring, the tops of which become waving plumes of small yellow flowers that nod and wave obedient to the vagrant. It was at this season that they attracted the eye of the poet, and his description is apt. It is the blue stem, standing on one long and wrinkled leg, that reaches highest, and bends supplest to the breeze.

Many of our contemporaries have taken pains to note that we treat these matters of the kitchen and kale-yard sentimentally. Well, why not? The poet, as we have just seen, treats collards poetically. Are they any the worse for the sentiment and poetry? We think not. That which belongs to the past must needs be treated sentimentally, and if good cooking and good food are not things of the past in the great majority of southern homes today, then the doctor’s bills are swindles. A lady remarked the other day that “turnip greens read better than they tasted.” She was referring to our remarks upon them. But if instead of aiming an epigram at The Constitution, she had taken the rolling-pin to the cook, the turnip greens would have acquired a flavor hitherto unknown to them in her household.

If there were more sentiment in the kitchen there would be less pangs at the table, and less need for health pellets. There is no need why sensible people should trust their lives to their cooks. A twenty years’ acquaintance with the woman or man who prepares your food is not too long, and it may be too short. In any event, an hour in the kitchen would save many a fine lady the pains of wearing stays in the hall. An hour in the kitchen, not to invent new dishes or try rash experiments, but to revive the old methods and restore to the table the healthy, wholesome food that could be found there forty years ago.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Oct 31, 1897

Title: Way Songs and Wanderings
Author: Claiborne Addison Young
Publisher:Estes & Lauriat, 1897
Pages 113-114