Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr. (1861—1949) an American playwright, poet, author, and educator. He was the father of poet-playwright Joseph Seamon, Junior.
Joseph Seamon Cotter had to leave school at age eight to work at a variety of jobs because of family financial exigencies.
Cotter had been a precocious child, learning to read at the age of three from a mother who had the gifts, as Cotter wrote later, of “a poet, storyteller, a maker of plays.”
When Cotter was twenty-two the prominent Louisville educator William T. Peyton encouraged the promising young man to return to school. After some remediation and two night school sessions, Cotter began his teaching career.
He went on to a career of more than fifty years as teacher and administrator with the Louisville public schools. In 1891 Cotter married his fellow educator Maria F. Cox, with whom he had three children, including the important poet in his own right Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr.
Although known in his own time as a prominent educator and African American civic leader, as well as for his prolific authorship in varied genres, today Cotter is remembered primarily for his poetry.
In his first collection, A Rhyming (1895), we see the young Cotter experimenting with varied poetic forms, including the traditional ballad and the Italian sonnet.
Cotter’s second book, Links of Friendship (1898), is another eclectic collection in varied forms.
Cotter went on to publish three more collections of poetry, including the Collected Poems of Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. (1938) and the Sequel to “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and Other Poems (1939), whose title poem, a response to Robert Browning’s poem “The Pied Piper”, is regarded as among Cotter’s finest.
Overall, it may be said that Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., provided a sustaining voice during one of the most difficult eras of African American history, and he was a man who backed his words with action in building the African American community.
Bio Reference Attribution https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095642167
Photo Attribution © (Photographer Unstated), Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., (Date Unstated)
Source Attribution https://poets.org/poet/joseph-seamon-cotter-sr
Dreams by Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr.
There is naught in the pathless reach
Of the pale, blue sky above,
There is naught that the stars tell, each to each,
As over the heavens they rove;
That I have not felt, or have not seen
Clad in dull earth or fancy’s sheen.
There is naught, in the still, mauve twilight
When the dreams come flitting by,
From lands afar of eternal night,
Or lands of the sunswept sky,
For countless spirits within me dwell
With heaven’s efflugence or dark hell.
Poem Attribution © Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., Dreams
Source Attribution https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/dreams-12/
My Song by Joseph Seamon Cotter Sr.
I sang me a song, a tiny song,
A song that was sweet to my soul,
And set it a-float on the sea of chance
In search of a happy goal.
I said to my song: “Go on, go on
And lodge in a tender spot
Of some human soul where the fires of hate
And selfishness are not.”
My song went on but a little space
And hied it back to me;
And fell at my feet in a sorry plight—
The victim of cruelty.
I gazed a moment and quickly saw
Just how it had come about,
A cruel critic had caught my song
And probed the soul of it out.
O, poor indeed is the human mind
(And why was it ever wrought?)
That can thrive on husk in the form of words,
And not on a sturdy thought.
Poem Attribution © Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., My Song
Source Attribution https://poets.org/poem/my-song
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