100 Best Books for Children ~ Lanier

Numbers 10 and 11 on Baldwin’s The Hundred Best Books for Children list found in The Book-lover are children’s versions of King Arthur and Percy by Sidney Lanier.

While Sidney Lanier was known as an American poet, he was also a lawyer, novelist, tutor, teacher, and flutist. Lanier loved words. His introductions go into great detail to explain the words used in this original manuscript or that retelling.

Meanwhile, he also was known for a series of adaptations of famous classics, among which are:

  • Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.
  • Froissart’s Chronicles.
  • Tales of Mabinogion from the Red Book of Hergest (Welsh King Arthur).
  • Bishop Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.

The last decades of the nineteenth century did not produce any new poets to compare with Whitman, Longfellow or Poe. Perhaps the greatest was Sidney Lanier (1842–81) of Georgia. Lanier was an accomplished musician and to him poetry was simply a branch of music. Sometimes his poetry suffers from too much color and too intricate rhythms but much of it is very beautiful. The Marshes of Glynn is his finest long poem, though The Song of the Chattahoochee is more widely known.

“American Literature,” The Book of Knowledge

Sidney Lanier died in 1891 of tuberculosis contracted during the Civil War. A complete edition of his poems was published posthumously by his wife.

Music is Love in search of a word.

Sidney Lanier

The Boy’s King Arthur

The Boy’s King Arthur, subtitled Sir Thomas Malory’s History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table Edited for Boys (and of course, girls, too) covers:

  • Arthur.
  • Launcelot.
  • Tristram.
  • Gareth.
  • Galahad.
  • Percival.
  • And the Holy Grail.

Lanier’s version sticks to the more archaic language, but less common words are explained in inline brackets. The version illustrated by N. C. Wyeth is considered a classic on its own.

King Arthur

King Arthur: Sir Thomas Malory’s History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth for those interested.

Free eBooks

The Boy’s Percy

The Boy’s Percy has the rather long subtitle Being Old Ballads of War, Adventure and Lore from Bishop Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry Together with an Appendix Containing Two Ballads from the Original Percy Folio Manuscript Edited for Boys with an Introduction.

Percy’s original book was published in 1765. Lanier makes the ballads more approachable (though some will find his version could also use editing for a younger audience). As he explains:

Each ballad is given here exactly as it stands in the original except that the spelling has been modernized and such parts cut away as cleanliness required. No change or interpolation of any kind has been made. As in The Boys King Arthur, every word between brackets, italicized, is to be taken as the meaning of the word in the text immediately preceding; while words in brackets, not italicized are always comments of the present editor. All these have necessarily been thrown into footnotes here, in order to prevent interference with the verse arrangement.

The ballads include tales of:

  • Robin Hood.
  • Chevy Chase.
  • King Edward.
  • Sir Andrew Barton.
  • King John.
  • Sir Gawaine.
  • Sir Guy.
  • St. George and the Dragon.

Background notes are included at the end of each ballad which will likely be helpful to those not familiar with the stories.

Free eBook

Additional Resources

The Poems of Sidney Lanier
For those interested.

Sidney Lanier
Well-known biography by Edwin Mims for those interested.

Author Notebooking Pages {Free Download}
Use this free set to create an author notebook for our 100 Best Books for Children series.

The Hundred Best Books for Children ~ Introduction
The Hundred Best Books for Children

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