The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945

Che Sage of Cedar fayo
ONE SPRING day in 1871 a ship laden with railroad iron from
English mills anchored outside Galveston bar. Among its
crew was a young Swede whose silvery threads of song were to
bind the hearts and minds of a generation together, even as the
steel rails were to link Houston and Galveston with the Texas
It was on his twentieth birthday that John Peter Sjolander
(Shol-ander, accent on the Shol) sighted the land which he
came to love with deep devotion and in which he was to labor
and love and sing almost to the last of his four score and eight
years. For like his prototype, Robert Burns, he was truly a
"farmer-poet" working with his hands and loving the soil while
he sang:
Rejoice, O heart! The treasure-house of kings
Is bare compared with his who toils and sings.1
Young as he was, Sjolander had already published poems and
known both tragedy and pleasure, freedom and imprisonment,
as well as a persistent oppression in his native land which, in-
stead of curbing his independent spirit, was fuel to its liberty-
loving fires. In Texas he found not only a congenial intellectual
and spiritual climate but also an illimitable geographic horizon
which challenged his cosmic genius.
The Writer spent a day with the aged poet in the modest home
where he had reared his family. His hand-clasp was warm, his
smile quick and friendly, his dimming eyes serene, as one who
has found the philosopher's stone. The sturdy frame inherited
from his Viking ancestors was bowed, but a clear mind and a
ready wit exemplified the ageless spirit of the true poet and
If this attempt to assay Sjolander's influence on his times
and to place him in his proper historical niche seems biased,
the writer enters a plea of guilty in advance. Having derived
pleasure and inspiration from Sjolander's poems for half a
I"The Toiler's Song," in John P. Sjolander, Salt of the Earth and Sea
(Dallas: P. L. Turner Company, 1928), 44. Hilton R. Greer aided in the com-
pilation of the book.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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