LODGE, GEORGE CABOT - American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

LODGE, GEORGE CABOT (1873-1909). Son of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and acquaintance of Edith Wharton, Henry James,* and his own biographer, Henry Adams, the poet and verse dramatist George Cabot Lodge was well acquainted with the sea. Growing up in the coastal Massachusetts town of Nahant and, as an adult, summering off Nantucket* on Tuckernuck Island, Lodge also served as a gunnery officer aboard the Dixie during the Spanish-American War.

Sea-based subjects, symbolism, and imagery resonate throughout Lodge’s poetry, notably in his first two published volumes, The Song of the Wave and Other Poems (1898) and Poems, 1899-1902 (1902). Characteristically, Lodge stresses the sea’s abstract, metaphysical qualities. In poems such as “Song of the Wave,” “Fog at Sea,” “The Ocean Sings,” and “Ode to the Sea” and in the four-poem sequence “Tuckanuck,” the sea is a transcendent, selfexploratory symbol for death, love, and poetic inspiration. Personification and apostrophe frequent Lodge’s sea poems; in “A First Word,” “the Ocean” beseeches the poet to give voice to her “songs.” Because he rejected realism and modernism, Lodge has been criticized for overuse of abstraction and emotional language. Yet some of his poems include more concrete imagery, as in a line describing waves: “the face of the waters was barred with white” (“Song of the Wave”). Although less prominent, the sea in Lodge’s later volumes of verse (The Great Adventure [1905] and The Soul’s Inheritance and Other Poems [1909]) remains an underlying, unifying presence in sea-inspired allusions and figurative language.

Retreating to the seashore in failing health, Lodge died on his beloved “Tuckanuck” Island at the age of thirty-six. [See also SEA IMAGERY IN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY POETRY]

Dana L. Peterson