John Bannister Tabb
Biography of John Bannister Tabb
Father John Banister Tabb (March 22, 1845 - November 19, 1909) was an American poet, Roman Catholic priest, and professor of English. (Although often misspelled as Bannister, the poet's middle name is actually spelled with only one "n", Banister.)
Born into one of Virginia's oldest and wealthiest families, he became a blockade runner for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and spent eight months in a Union prison camp (where he formed a life-long friendship with poet Sidney Lanier); he converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1872, and began to teach Greek and English at Saint Charles College (Ellicott City, Maryland) in 1878.
He was ordained as a priest in 1884, after which he retained his academic position. Plagued by eye problems his whole life, he lost his sight completely about a year before he died in the college rooms that he had continued to occupy after his retirement.
Father Tabb (as he was commonly known) was widely published in popular and prestigious magazines of the day, including Harper's Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Cosmopolitan. His books of poetry include Poems (1894), Lyrics (1897), Later Lyrics (1902), and, posthumously, Later Poems (1910). He also wrote one prose work, Bone Rules (1897), an English grammar; only one of his sermons has survived, a sermon on the Assumption (August 15, 1894).
English poet Alice Meynell made A Selection from the Verses of John B. Tabb (1906). His biographer, Francis A. Litz, a former student of Tabb's, published previously uncollected poems and previously unpublished poems in Father Tabb: A Study of His Life and Works (1923); Litz also edited a collected edition, The Poetry of Father Tabb (1928).
The Tabb Monument in Amelia County, Virginia is dedicated to his memory.
John Bannister Tabb Poems
What fruit of all thy blossom shed Remaineth unto me? 'A dream, whereon thy Fancy fed, Shall spin anon her golden thread,
I came, O DEATH, to conquer thee, And overcome the Grave; But thou wast tenderer to me Than those I sought to save.
Says the Shadow to the Sun, 'When the victory is done All the world that thou hast won Will be mine!'
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
Contrasts are striking, Teddy knows; And so, for a variety, The Black man to the White House goes, Rough-riding o'er society.
'Tis Nothingness that sunders me, O God, from thine Eternity, Wherein, a being yet to be, I dwelt forever one with Thee,
The Baby's Star
The Star that watched you in your sleep Has just put out his light. 'Good-day, to you on earth,' he said, 'Is here in heaven Good-night.
Butterfly, Butterfly, sipping the sand, Have you forgotten the flowers of the land? Or are you so sated with honey and dew
Ours is the echoed cry Of helpless Innocents about to die. Remembering them In Ramah, for the Lamb of Bethlehem
It was a very little Boy That on the river side Stood calling, 'Ferryman, ahoy! Come, take me o'er the tide!'
Of forthcoming weather no prophet have they, For the ground hog is there to be seen every day.
The End Of It
A whole-tail dog, and a half-tail dog, And a dog without a tail, Went all three out on an autumn day To follow a red-fox trail.
Listen! 'tis the Rain Coming home again; Not as when he went away, Silent, but in tears to say
To die in sleep-to drift from dream to dream Along the banks of slumber, beckoned on Perchance by forms familiar, till anon,
Dance to the beat of the rain, little Fern, And spread out your palms again, And say, 'Tho' the sun Hath my vesture spun,
A Bachelor Hen
Upon the nest she was a hen,
But higher aims induced her
To get upon the roost; and then
She found herself a rooster.