Thursday, March 23, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: March 23, 1865 - Madison Julius Cawein

Image from

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia –
Madison Julius Cawein, poet, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 23, 1865, fifth child of William and Christiana (Stelsly) Cawein. His father, who had emigrated from Germany in the 1840s, earned his living in Louisville as a confectioner and herbalist. His mother, daughter of German immigrants, was a spiritualist. In 1886 Cawein graduated from Louisville's Male High School and became assistant cashier at the Newmarket poolroom, where he remained until 1892, writing at night and in his spare time and paying for publication of his books. His poetic career was launched in 1887 when William Dean Howells favorably reviewed his first book, Blooms of the Berry. Thirty- six others followed, including Kentucky Poems (1902), solicited by the English critic Edmund Gosse, and a five-volume collected edition in 1907. Cawein's poetry shows the naturalist's lore he learned from his father and the creative imagination of his spiritualist mother. Literary influences on his work were the English poets, especially Spenser, Keats, Shelley, and Tennyson, and the German poets Goethe, Heine, and Geibel, a collection of whose works he translated ( The White Snake, 1895).

Cawein's nature poetry preserves, like the paintings of Carl Brenner , a landscape that has all but disappeared. Accurate in terms of flora and fauna, the poems are yet visionary. One of them, " The Wasteland" ( Minions of the Moon, 1913), which describes a barren site and an old man, looks forward to the landscape of loss that T.S. Eliot made real for his generation.

On June 4, 1903, Cawein married Gertrude Foster McKelvey; they had one child, Preston Hamilton (whose name was later changed to Madison Cawein II). Cawein died of an apoplectic attack on December 8, 1914, and was buried in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.


Otto A. Rothert, The Story of a Poet: Madison Cawein (Louisville1921)

John Rutledge, "Madison Cawein as an Exponent of German Culture," FCHQ 51 (Jan. 1977): 5-16.


Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Cawein, Madison Julius. Minions of the Moon; a Little Book of Song and Story. Cincinnati: Stewart & Kidd, 1913. SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04382.05 KUK. Web.
811 C317mi, Special Collections Research Center

Cawein, Madison Julius. The Garden of Dreams. Louisville, Ky.: John P. Morton, 1896. Beyond the Shelf, Serving Historic Kentuckiana through Virtual Access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; B92-188-30608406. Web.
811 C317ga, Special Collections Research Center

Cawein, Madison Julius. The Poet and Nature and The Morning Road. Louisville, Ky.: John P. Morton & Incorporated, 1914. Print.
811 C317pn, Special Collections Research Center

No comments:

Post a Comment