19th century poetry

The Fireside Poets
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
William Cullen Bryant
John Greenleaf Whittier

Characteristic features of their poetry:
– standard forms
– regular metre
– rhymed stanzas
– poetry easy to memorise and recite

William Cullen Bryant
The first American poet of distinction
Influenced by Alexander Pope and the Graveyard Poets
‘To a Waterfowl’ (‘the most perfect brief poem in the language’)
– his most famous poem
– a sense of reconciliation with death
– death is a part of nature

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Influenced by Romantic poets
Themes: home, family, nature, religion
‘Paul Revere’s Ride’ (English-American war)
‘The Song of Hiawatha’ (native American myths)
Translation of Dante Alighieri’s ‘Divine Comedy’

Walt Whitman
Influences: Shakespeare, Milton, Emerson
‘The Leaves of Grass’ (1855; mixed reception, ignored by the general reading public)
‘Song of Myself’ (the first part of ‘The Leaves of Grass’)
– poet – a physical creature
– equality
– democracy, America
– beauty of nature

Emily Dickinson
Life of isolation
Very few of her poems were published in her lifetime
1775 – poems discovered posthumously by her sister Lavinia
1890 – the first edition
1955 – a complete critical edition of her poems
Dickinson’s innovative style:
– ‘Sumptuous Destitution’ (‘przepych ubóstwa’)
– neither natural flow of speech, nor elaborate literary devices
– dashes, ellipses