Robert Lee Brothers, Jr. 1908-1979
Robert Lee Brothers, Jr., the “Poet of Peach Creek,” son of Robert Lee and Alma (Kokernot) Brothers, was born December 29, 1908, with deep Texas roots, at Big Hill, on the old Kokernot ranch in Gonzales County, Texas. He graduated from Gonzales High School and studied one year at Baylor University. When his father died the following year (1929), he returned to the land he had inherited to become a cattleman. Though those roots were in the cattle business, he published three books of poetry and won many poetry awards. His first collection, Democracy of Dust, was published in 1947. The themes in this and subsequent works revolve around ranching, nature, and human nature. His second book, The Hidden Harp, (1952), won the Texas Institute of Letters award for 1953. His poem “Requiem for a Foundling” won the Reynolds Lyric Award in Virginia. Among the other awards Brothers received was a special citation given during the semicentenial of The Lyric, in 1970 to “poets...who have diligently served the cause of traditional poetry throughout the years.” He was an active member of the Poetry Society of Texas and served as a judge for many poetry contests. In June 1936 he married Azilea Barfield, an old sweetheart he had known since she was sixteen; deceased October 4, 1955. Robert Lee Brothers, Jr. died of a heart attack on Mother’s Day, May 13, 1979, at his home in Gonzales.
In the dust cover of his second book, The Hidden Harp–in response to a question about the source of his literary interest, he gave a tongue-in-cheek explanation. He had noted pictures of men such as John Ruskin and Robert Burns on cigar boxes. This led him to inquire around about the identity of such men and found a local school teacher who explained their importance. He then started in on Burns (cigars as well as poetry). He ends his explanation with:
“I still hope to God I can get my picture on a cigar box someday.”
Meanwhile, will your name on a library do?
Barbara Jo Brothers