The current Prattville Primary School was built in 1927, replacing the former Prattville Male and Female Academy. Sidney Lanier was principal and teacher at that school in 1867-1868. There is no indication when the plaque was placed, but it appears to have been there for many years. The Prattville Primary School is located on Wetumpka Road near the corner of North Washington Street.
Lanier was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1842. During the Civil War he contracted tuberculosis in a Federal prison and it led to his death at 39 in 1882.
The following excerpt from the biography on the poets.org site tells of the poetry for which he is remembered:
November 20, 2012 | by Bartee Haile
This Week in Texas History: A column by BARTEE HAILE
A sick southern artist came to Texas on Nov. 27, 1873 to clear his lungs and his head.
Restored in body and soul after a long rest in San Antonio, Sidney Lanier went home to make the most of his talents.
Genius was in the Georgian’s genes. Generations of Laniers entertained the English monarchy as court composers and musicians before emigrating to America in the early 1700’s.
Almost a century and a half later, Sidney inherited the remarkable family flair for music. At the age of seven he mimicked song birds with a riverbank reed and easily mastered his first real instrument, a tiny flute.
by Sidney Lanier
To-day the woods are trembling through and through
With shimmering forms, that flash before my view,
Then melt in green as dawn-stars melt in blue.
The leaves that wave against my cheek caress
Like women's hands; the embracing boughs express
A subtlety of mighty tenderness;
The copse-depths into little noises start,
That sound anon like beatings of a heart,
Anon like talk 'twixt lips not far apart.
The beech dreams balm, as a dreamer hums a song;
Through that vague wafture, expirations strong
Throb from young hickories breathing deep and long
With stress and urgence bold of prisoned spring
And ecstasy of burgeoning.
Now, since the dew-plashed road of morn is dry,
Forth venture odors of more quality
And heavenlier giving. Like Jove's locks awry,
Rich-wreathe the spacious foreheads of great pines,
And breathe ambrosial passion from their vines.
I pray with mosses, ferns and flowers shy
That hide like gentle nuns from human eye
To lift adoring perfumes to the sky.
I hear faint bridal-sighs of brown and green
Dying to silent hints of kisses keen
As far lights fringe into a pleasant sheen.
I start at fragmentary whispers, blown
From undertalks of leafy souls unknown,
Vague purports sweet, of inarticulate tone.
Dreaming of gods, men, nuns and brides, between
Old companies of oaks that inward lean
To join their radiant amplitudes of green
I slowly move, with ranging looks that pass
Up from the matted miracles of grass
Into yon veined complex of space
Where sky and leafage interlace
So close, the heaven of blue is seen
Inwoven with a heaven of green.
by Sidney Lanier
How tall among her sisters, and how fair, -- How grave beyond her youth, yet debonair As dawn, 'mid wrinkled Matres of old lands Our youngest Alma Mater modest stands! In four brief cycles round the punctual sun Has she, old Learning's latest daughter, won This grace, this stature, and this fruitful fame.
AJC - Friday, February 3, 2012, 4:20 pmBy Michael Bishop
I work in one of Atlanta’s tall buildings, looking out every day at this sprawling, new city. From up here, Atlanta doesn’t look like it has much of a visible past. Not that I’m surprised. Atlantans are used to the idea that our city is about “now,” not “then.” Our civic ethos values newness, bigness and the leading edge. Dating back to the 19th century, we’ve considered ourselves an unsentimental, brash city on the move.