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Title : American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, Volume 1: Freneau to Whitman
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ISBN : 9780940450608
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 1099 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, Volume 1: Freneau to Whitman Reviews

  • Marie
    2018-11-24 06:44

    A childhood favorite ❤“Alone”By Edgar Allan PoeFrom childhood’s hour I have not been As others were—I have not seen As others saw—I could not bring My passions from a common spring— From the same source I have not taken My sorrow—I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone— And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone— Then—in my childhood—in the dawn Of a most stormy life—was drawn From ev’ry depth of good and ill The mystery which binds me still— From the torrent, or the fountain— From the red cliff of the mountain— From the sun that ’round me roll’d In its autumn tint of gold— From the lightning in the sky As it pass’d me flying by— From the thunder, and the storm— And the cloud that took the form (When the rest of Heaven was blue) Of a demon in my view—"

  • Jim Leckband
    2018-11-19 05:18

    You want to know just how good Whitman and Dickinson are? Read their contemporaries. When you come across them after reading pages of somewhat mannered and not really inspired verse it is like looking into the sun. But of course it is unfair to compare Whitman and Dickinson's fellow poets to them when those two rank with the best that mankind has produced. These poets and poems are very enjoyable - I thought I might get 200 pages of New England puritan blather - but I was pleasantly surprised. The editing in these volumes is superb - I rarely got the sensation when reading a poet that they included far too many of their poems. Not only are attributed poems included, but anonymously written poems and folk songs as well. But my favorite was reading the American Indian selections - they can't really be termed poems because they are much more than that.

  • Keith
    2018-11-25 23:26

    For someone interested in the triple-titled poets of the American 19th century (god bless you!), this is all you need. Longfellow may warrant a deeper dive (the Library of America set is very good and includes a sampling of all his major works other than his translation of the Divine Comedy) but you’ll find about everything in this beautiful and comprehensive set. Bryant, Whitter, Emerson, Poe, Holmes, Thoreau, and Longfellow had their moments, but (in my opinion) not enough to warrant reading their complete works or even a long selection of their poem. (I speak of this from personal experience.) They do have treasures and this Library of America anthology gathers them all. Although they lacked the inventiveness and vision to create something truly original (and truly American), these poets were people of the world, and they deserve credit for that. They were not shrinking violets throwing verse over the wall from the safety of their tenure protected job. They were not speaking in a private code to a small coterie of fellow poetry aficionados. They were standing on a public podium speaking to all Americans, and they were actively involved in the political, social and artistic life of the nation. So, you get a great selection of the trice-tagged metrists, plus a good selection of the bi-nominal Walt Whitman (including all of the original 1855 Leaves of Grass) and other lesser known poets. My only gripe is that I wish the set included fewer poems and more notes. This is particularly needed because many of these poets were actively involved in politics and the issues of their days. Just adding years to the poems would have been helpful. For a set that could otherwise be called definitive, this is disappointing.Here are my thoughts on some of the poets as I read them: William Cullen Bryant – Bryant, for all intents and purposes, created American poetry. Of all the 19th century, tri-monikered American poets, Bryant is the most talented technically – perhaps the equal of Longfellow. His prosody is deft, and his ear is very good. His rhythms are generally interesting (at least in these selections), expertly showing variation and color. His contemporaries, by contrast, are invariably stuck in the sing-song rhythms of rhymed tetrameter couplets. Alas, though, how many poems can a person write about seeking solace in nature? Bryant doesn’t have much interesting to say beyond clichéd descriptions of nature. Though technically good, he’s not good enough that the form and beauty of his work alone can carry the reader. The man lived in New York City most of his life, it’s too bad he didn’t focus his poetry on the world immediately around him.Thanatopsis is by far his best poem – and among the great poems in my esteem. (It has an interesting secular feel in a very Christian time.)Ralph Waldo Emerson – Emerson’s poetic form is surprisingly fresh. He most often uses a variable foot line with rhymed couplets. It creates an interesting tension, but insistent rhymes cause a sing-song feel since the lines are rather short. In terms of topic, there are many poems about the beauty and truth of nature. Emerson also features classical and Biblical themes. However, though Emerson’s unique rhythms come closer to feeling American, his poems are rather traditionally pastoral/Romantic. His idea of Americanizing poetry is referencing U.S. bird/plant species and rivers. Problems usually start for Emerson, and the other triple-labelled lyricist, when a river, mountain, creek, heart, tree, or woods starts talking to provide some moral about the unknowable wonders of nature. Emerson’s Threnody starts very well, but when the heart speaks it becomes much weaker. (There are actually very few examples of people speaking in 19th century American poetry.)Honestly, few of Emerson’s poems stand out for me. Brahma and the first half of Threnody are probably my favorites. Some of the others are moderately interesting, but not enough for me to recommend them. John Greenleaf Whittier – Whittier, like his close contemporary Longfellow, has not been treated kindly by the passing of time. And in some respect deservedly so. His unending succession of rhymed tetrameters can become cloying. At best, his writing has a ballad feel, but at worse it tries too hard for literary achievement. The best poems, by far, are Telling the Bees and Snowbound. Telling the Bees tells a rather typical ballad story of a lover’s death, but it is told in an amazing meter and with a deft use of rhyme. Unlike his other poems which can become monotonous, this has a liveliness and unusual rhythm that energizes the poem. It also includes some beautiful images. Snowbound is a well-known poem that was wildly popular during his life, and deservedly so. Whittier, like Bryant, was actively involved in the issues of his day. He was a famous abolitionist and newspaper publisher (barely surviving a few angry mobs) and he ran for office many times and played an important role in the creation of the Republican party. A man or woman of his time with something important to say could turn to poetry to get his/her message out to a broad audience. The world is different today. (You can see my other thoughts about Whittier in my review of his Selected Poems here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...)Henry Wadsworth Longfellow -- You can see my thoughts on Longfellow here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...Walt Whitman -- You can see my thoughts on Whitman here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...