Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Joseph Addison Turner


Joseph Addison Turner is best known today, not for his own writings, but for his employment of another writer Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), author of the Uncle Remus stories. Harris worked for Turner in his early teen-age years as printer's devil for The Countryman, a country paper published during the Civil War years (1851-1866) by Turner at Turnwold, his Putnam County plantation near Eatonton, Georgia. Harris lived and worked at Turnwold Plantation from 1862 to 1866 and his first published writing was for Turner's The Countryman. Harris' fictional treatment of these years can be found in On the Plantation: A Story of a Georgia Boy's Adventures During the War (Sergeant Kirkland's Press, 1997). Harris would later write for the Atlanta Constitution and become a celebrated author. [On Joel Chandler Harris: Remembering Remus and Still in the Briar Patch]


Autumn in the South

Autumn in the South

At eve and morn the wanton breeze
   Doth dip his feet in Tyrian dews,
And paint the foliage on the trees
   With golden, purple, crimson hues.

The zephyr comes with mellow wing,
   Comes laden with autumnal sounds,
From neighboring hills, where echoes ring,
   From meadows coursed by baying hounds.

And in the browning stubble's heard
   The buzzing of the insect throng,
And from the wood the summer bird
   Is pouring forth its farewell song.

The plaintative killdee seeks the rill,
   the partridge whistles in the copse,
The gun is echoed from the hill,
   And from the tree the squirrel drops.

The cotton dons its robe of white,
   The maize is golden in the field,
The moon sheds forth a milder light,
   Less torrid is the solar shield.

The rustic corn-song lades the breeze,
   As chanted forth by merry slaves—
Few sons of toil more blessed than these,
   Though Beecher cants, and Parker raves.

The grapes are purple on the vine,
   Persimmons turn to golden hue,
Grows ripe the luscious muscadine,
   And autumn fruitage greets the view.

Now Cuffee winds his merry horn,
   And Towzer leaps with frantic joy—
Wo to the 'possum—ere 'tis morn,
   He's food for negro girl and boy.

The road is now with teamsters strewn,
   Who crack their whis as on they ride—
No monarch seated on his throne,
   Is loftier in his regal pride.

'Tis sad, 'tis true, yet pleasant all,
   When autumn's genial sun is shed,
When flower's decay, and leaflets fall,
   And low, and breezes fan the head.

Merry Dale, Near Eatonton, Ga. Sept. 1853

[20 (11) Southern Literary Messenger 652 (November, 1854)] [online text]

To Pyrrha
(Paraphrase from Horace.)

Oh! Pyrrha, nymph of pleasant caves
   Reclining on a couch of roses,
What youth, bedewed in spicy waves,
   Close by thy wanton side reposes.

Doth some lover, steeped in wine,
Mid thy golden tresses twine
Wreath of flowers, with rosy fingers,
While his lip mid nectar lingers?

He knows thee not, thou heartless one,
   Inconstant as the changing sea,
But fondly hopes the smiling sun
   Will ever many thy constancy.

Wretched they who know thee not
Pity on their hopeless lot—
Wo to him who first hath met
Thee, the heartless and coquette.

[16 (9) Southern Literary Messenger 652 (September, 1850)] [online text]


Joseph Addison Turner, The Old Plantation: A Poem (Atlanta, Georgia: Emory University, 1945)


Extracts from My Mss
16 (8) Southern Literary Messenger (August, 1850)

The Poetry of Judge Henry R. Jackson
18 (33) Southern Literary Messenger 179 (1852)
[Henry Rootes Jackson was also a lawyer-poet]

Jos. A. Turner, The Autobiography of Joseph Addison Turner 1826-1868 (Atlanta: Emory University Reprint Series, 1943)

J. A. Turner, The Cotton Planter's Manual: Being a Compilation of Facts from the Best Authorities on the Culture of Cotton; Its Natural History, Chemical Analysis, Trade, and Consumption; and Embracing a History of Cotton and the Cotton Gin (New York: C. M. Saxton and Co., 1857) [online text](New York: Orange Judd, 1865) [online text] (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969)

Bibliography: Articles

Lawrence Huff, Joseph Addison Turner: Southern Editor During the Civil War, 29 (4) Journal of Southern History 469 (1963)