Hymn to the Chesapeake by Robert P. Arthur, illustrated by A. Aubrey Bodine
This expanded version of Hymn to the Chesapeake contains new works from the past twenty years, many revisions, and numerous additional photographs by A. Aubey Bodine, whose photographs inspired much of Robert Arthur’s work.
Now available in a Collector's Hardback Edition as of April 2019.
The Chesapeake region has inspired and nurtured humanity for millennia. Long before the crossing of the Mayflower to this region, native Americans lived in harmony with the bounty of the land and seascape. The Pilgrims sought refuge in the new country when they landed in the marshes of the Chesapeake. Challenged by the thick forests, the climate, disease, the incredibly strong nature, the early settlements nearly died out. Humanity has been drawn to the natural beauty and bounty of the Chesapeake for as long as we can remember. Pirates, settlers, presidents, inventors, artists, poets, writers, musicians, farmers, fishermen, immigrants, people seeking refuge, livelihood, homestead, a way of life, their place.
Robert P. Arthur may be the finest poet ever to target the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay. Growing up in the small town of Melfa, he absorbed Eastern Shore language, culture, and bloodline. He says that knowledge of the water and people, storms at sea and sinking islands was “thrust” upon him; but leaving the shore as often as he did left him a preservationist at heart—this book his edifice. Into these poems he has poured not only himself but also half-forgotten towns, unpredictable stretches of water, watermen and waterwomen, oyster wars, moonshiners, and pirates, as well as sea grasses, water fowl, the photography of A. Aubrey Bodine and voices of the bay not his own.
So many doomed things are held in place in this book. So many shinings.
“It makes me nostalgic for places I've never been.”
Mac MacKinney, Virginia Pilot
"…in the Crimea, I read Mr. Arthur’s and felt transported to the Chesapeake. All at once, the United States and Russia were one…."
Dr. Georgina Nevzarova
Arthur is the author of over twenty books, including poem/plays, poems, and plays, many of which focus on the Chesapeake region. His works have been performed nationally and internationally, notably in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was a finalist for Poet Laureate of Virginia in 2008 and 2010. This edition of Hymn to the Chesapeake is a full realization of the author’s vision of the Hymn to the Chesapeake begun in 1973 and published by Road Publishers in 1991. The original was the best-selling book in the history of Road Publishers.
It is inevitable that the words the Chesapeake’s finest poet should come together with Bodine’s photographs.
A. Aubrey Bodine was a painter with the camera rather than a conventional photojournalist; he favored a soft focus, somewhat analogous to Arthur’s remembrances, and likewise, he was a romantic rather than an objective chronicler. A pictorialist, whose first concern was fine art rather than just hard-edged photographic record, he worked from 1927 to 1970 for the Baltimore Sunday Sun, where its Sun Magazine became his gallery. His genius in the darkroom is legendary. He is known for retouching elements of his photos, deepening shadows, and manipulating images.