Lanier, born in Macon, Georgia (2/3/1842-9/7/1881) dreamed of living as a musician, poet, and scholar in Europe - an unconventional choice for a Southern gentleman. His plans were dashed when the Civil War broke out. Lanier joined the Confederate Army, and after a short time as a blockade runner was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp, where he contracted the tuberculosis that killed him at age 39.
Meanwhile, after brief, unsatisfying stints in business, Lanier set out to make a life in the arts. His accomplishments as a flautist (he eventually became first flute at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore) make him the only notable American poet who was also a musician; he is known for the musicality of his innovative verse. In 1879 he was invited to join the faculty of the recently established Johns Hopkins University. He died barely 2 years later.