Smith, Effie Waller
Modest worth, nobility of character, virtue, and truth, require no ornament, but themselves command admiration, whether the one who possesses them be of the most humble origin or of princely birth.
The writer of these lines sees such a person in the young author of this volume, whose origin was of the most humble, being Ethiopian, and whose parents were slaves.
The present writer is of Anglo-Saxon race, strongly imbued with Southern prejudices, and whose near relatives, the Elliotts of Eastern Kentucky, fought to keep the negro in subjection.
But time and the development of the colored race will surely appeal to the reason of the anti-Abolitionists and cause them to reflect that perhaps after all they may have been in error. Be that as it may, our intention is to discuss briefly the author and the merits of her book. Miss Waller is the daughter of poor, but highly respected colored people, has one brother and one sister who possess unusual mentality, and are numbered among the best teachers in the South. Miss Effie, the author of this book, as well as the others, had quite a struggle to acquire an education.
She then began to teach, taking the money she saved, and paying her expenses at the Colored State Normal School, at Frankfort, until she has obtained an excellent education, and she expects to still press forward until she has fully completed it.
Miss Waller's poems, as all who read them will observe, are possessed of much pathos and beauty, having an originality all their own. Who knows, that like Paul Lawrence Dunbar she may not one day surprise and delight her own race, and cause white critics to wonder at her genius.
She displays much rhythmic talent in the poem "In Memory of W. Hughs," a dead classmate, from which the following is taken:
"It was in the month of June, and the woods were all atune.
All atune with bird music sweet and rare;
And the flowers were all in bloom, shedding
forth their sweet, rich perfume
On the breezy atmosphere everywhere."
Then she touchingly refers to their meeting at that time, and of their future association, and the last stanza runs like this:
"Little thought I, friend of mine,
You'd be called so soon to shine
In that galaxy of diadems up there;
But it was our Father's will
And He speaks to-day: 'Be still!'
To my sad and sorrow-stricken heart down here."
The scholarly Rev. Peter Clay, a writer of great ability, and who knows our gifted little poet, a few years ago gave vent to his admiration in rhyme as follows: