For many years as a blogger I've identified with Philip Freneau (b. 1752). No one really reads much of his stuff anymore and the main study of his life and his work is sub-titled A Study in Literary Failure, which pretty nicely sums up his current reputation. With historically interesting Revolutionary War-era poems and a few "pre-romantic" works about nature, he is easy to drop into an anthology, which is how he's been able to live on. I studied his era during grad school -- and ended up writing a dissertation on one of his contemporaries, Joel Barlow -- because his main poetic style, neoclassicism, did not survive long. Think about all the pasteboard classical touches that infect our architecture, our politics, our places names, etc. from that time - well, the poetry was the same way, only it was ultimately replaced. Bryant and Emerson and Whitman made sure of that. Neoclassical poetry died. Hard.
Freneau was a sometime newspaper man and a frequent newspaper poet, and he had the annoying habit of staying alive. Long after the Revolution, he remained, writing in New Jersey and generally agitating. A staunch republican, he spent decades collecting Federalist enemies and gradually descending into poverty. George Washington hated him. He called the miniature and elitist Alexander Hamilton a "political shrimp." He was a newspaper poet, he wasn't Keats (or rather, our idea of Keats, but that's another topic). Somebody died, here's a poem. Somebody bad got elected, here's a poem. Another war, here's a poem. It was daily and often disposable, but it wasn't worthless, at least not always. He was, I think, an idealist who everyone thought was unhappy.
Freneau never seemed to have gotten enough of his war pension, and decades after the conflict he continued to engage in fierce political debates that, in essence, are clearly about what the War had actually been about, what the War had been for. When you really look closely at that period, it's pretty clear no one really knew. Or rather, agreed. Of course, that debate never really ended.
But Freneau did. In 1832, on a snowy December evening, he walked home from either a bar or a library meeting. He seems to have fallen or gotten lost or simply caught up in the cold. He never made it home, freezing to death not far from his house.
This is my last post at Royals Review. There's no real way of continuing much further that won't sound incredibly vainglorious. But, I'll stand here at the podium a bit longer. I started blogging at blogger in 2004 -- inspired by the 2003 Royals and this new blogging fad that was starting -- and in the earliest days of SB Nation, I got an invite to start RR, which launched in 2005. Gulp. I think about the people that first started reading the site back then and I wonder what happened to them. Getting five comments meant so much to me back then. My own little life, often more Mr. Bleaney than Freneau, has changed tremendously since I started RR, and I had my own share of literary and academic failures. There's less time to write now. Hardly any.
The memories come flooding back. Game threads in deserted libraries and computer labs on Friday evenings, at home, rented rooms, hotels, remembering to schedule posts before vacations, posts written in the middle of the night, checking the site from the road, in truckstops, airport internet stations, at conferences, on my honeymoon, and then on phones, and worrying about errors, changing typos later, and emails and messages from wherever, and sometimes trying to explain the site and not knowing how. Thank you so much.
The site, the platform, the community, SB Nation, deserves more and better than I can continue to give. Craig Brown takes over today, and I'm really excited that such an accomplished blogger will be taking the car keys here. Craig's done great work for many years at Royals Authority, knows the team, knows the fanbase, knows what to do. By leaving now, I'm almost guaranteeing that the Royals will become a perennial winner, that RR will explode in traffic, and that Craig will be a regular on Baseball Tonight someday.
*Craig will take over the Royals Review twitter and Facebook accounts as well. You can follow me at @exRoyalsReview.
It isn't easy to walk away. Hard as hell, actually. I wish I'd done better, written more, talked about more, known more about baseball. But mostly, I wish I'd written more and better. It's going to be strange and hard to realize, next week or next month, I'm not going to be writing about the next move, the next trade... I struggle, pausing for longer than you can know --- oh hell, surely you can guess actually, for how to wrap up, conclude, say goodbye.
I loved writing for you guys. Thank you.
ON THE DEATH Of a Republican Printer [By his Partner and Successor]
Like Sybil's leaves, abroad he spread
His sheets, to awe the aspiring crew:
Stock-jobbers fainted while they read;
Each hidden scheme display'd to view--
Who could such doctrines spread abroad
So long, and not be clapper-claw'd!
Content with slow uncertain gains,
With heart and hand prepar'd he stood
To send his works to distant plains,
And hills beyond the Ohio-flood--
And, since he had no time to lose,
Preach'd whiggish lectures with his news.
Now death, with cold unsparing hand,
(At whose decree even Capets fall)
From life's poor glass has shook his sand,
And sent him, fainting, to the wall--
Because he gave you some sad wipes,
O Mammon! seize not thou his types.
What shall be done, in such a case?--
Shall I, because my partner fails,
Call in his bull-dogs from the chace
To loll their tongues and drop their tails--
No, faith--the title-hunting crew
No longer fly than we pursue.