Friday, April 24, 2020

Southern Poets and Poems, Part III


EBENEZER COOKE (fl. ca. l 680s–1730s?) of Maryland is a major figure in Colonial American literature. He is best known for the long satirical poem “The Sot-Weed Factor.”  (The sot-weed is tobacco, mainstay of the Southern and American economy in the colonial period, and the factor is a figure long familiar in the South—the merchant who sold and exported the plantations’ tobacco, cotton, or rice, and shipped to the plantation such purchased goods as were requested. (A Yankee writer named Barth in the 20th century appropriated Cooke’s title for a novel.) The first item is from “The Sot-Weed Factor” (1708) and the second is a preface to Cooke’s long poem “The Maryland Muse.” (1731). Cooke shows the humorous and positive spirit of the South at a time when the literature of New England consisted entirely of Puritan cant.

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