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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
George Henry Boker (1823–1890)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
GEORGE H. BOKER was a man of leisure by inheritance, and a scholar and author by training and choice. His work is usually deliberate, careful, and polished: the work of a man of solid culture, of much experience and knowledge of the world; of a man of dignity and social position, not a Bohemian. It is thoughtfully planned and carefully executed, but not written through inspiration or prompted by passion. Yet it does not lack vigor, nor are his puppets merely automata. His plays have life and force; and they are moreover good acting dramas. ‘Francesca da Rimini’ especially, with Lawrence Barrett in the rôle of Lanciotto, was decidedly successful on the stage. In keeping with the character of his work, the scenes of his plays are all laid in foreign countries and in other times: Portugal, England, Spain, and Italy are the fields in which his characters play their parts. His personages have an individuality of their own and are consistently drawn; the action is lively, the humor is natural and a needful foil to the tragedy.  1
  Mr. Boker was fond of the sonnet, as poets are apt to be who have once yielded to its attraction, and he used it with much effect. But chiefly his poems of the Civil War will make his name remembered. His lyre responded sympathetically to the heroic deeds which characterized that conflict—not always with the smoothness and polish of his more studied work, but worthily, and in the spirit of the time.  2
  He was born in Philadelphia, October 6th, 1823, and died there January 2d, 1890. He was graduated from Princeton in 1842, and after studying law and traveling for a number of years in Europe, settled down in his native city, where most of his life was spent. He was Minister to Turkey from 1871 to 1875, and Minister to Russia from 1875 to 1879. His first volume, ‘The Lesson of Life and other Poems,’ was published in 1847, and was followed by various plays,—‘Calaynos,’ ‘Anne Boleyn,’ ‘The Betrothal,’ ‘Leonor de Guzman,’ ‘Francesca da Rimini,’ etc., which, with some shorter pieces, were collected in ‘Plays and Poems,’ published in 1856. His ‘Poems of the War’ appeared in 1864, and still later a number of other volumes: ‘Street Lyrics,’ ‘Our Heroic Themes’ (1865), ‘Königsmark’ (1869), ‘The Book of the Dead’ (1882), a very close imitation of ‘In Memoriam’ in both matter and form, and ‘Sonnets’ (1886).  3
 
 
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