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Lyric Poetry

LYRIC POETRY


The poets most associated with nineteenth-century American writing are Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) and Walt Whitman (1819–1892), but in their time they had not yet risen above the crowd. Emily Dickinson was barely known and published only a few poems in her lifetime; Walt Whitman was well-published and his name was recognized, but he was not at the peak of his eventual popularity. Perhaps the most popular poets of the time were the Fireside Poets, so called because of their sensibility to heart and hearth: William Cullen Bryant, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Other writers who are well known for their prose also wrote poetry: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Edgar Allan Poe. They shared the poetry pages of books, magazines, and newspapers with others who were successful but whose names are not generally known: Jones Very, Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, Sarah Josepha Hale, and George Moses Horton. There were other poets, too, who, for the most part, were lost to posterity until they were rediscovered one hundred years later, in the 1960s and 1970s, when the canon of literature written primarily by European American males was opened to include the voices of the past that had been edited out of literary history, notably the voices of women and African Americans.

SETTING THE NATIONAL CHARACTER

Poets writing in the middle of the nineteenth century shared with the rest of the country the task of forging its national character and ideals. The war with Great Britain was over and, although its literature and the literature of Europe were still popular, the new country was ready for its own literary tradition, one commensurate with its ethnically diverse and burgeoning population, its vast territory, and the challenges and blessings of the technological revolution.

At the same time that the United States was stepping out of the shadow of England and Europe, it was letting go of the infrastructure of realism, the dominant philosophical stance of the eighteenth century that relied on reason and intellect in the search for truth and understanding. In its place American Romanticism emerged with its emphasis on nature, personal experience, and imagination as guides for thought and action.

This trend was not unique to America, it took place throughout the Western world, but in America it was particularly suited to the emergent character and ideals of a nation that was still inventing itself and the zeal that accompanied its efforts. That zeal was manifest in several ways. First, perhaps, was the sanctification of democratic opportunity in the broadest sense, meaning freedom from classist roles set at birth. This trend also was not unique to America, revolutions were occurring elsewhere, but rather than forcing change in preexisting institutions, it helped give shape to the United States' emerging institutions. With it came the beginnings of the women's movement and increased dialogue on the immorality of slavery, the former leading to the first women's rights gathering, the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention (Gray, p. xvii), and the latter to the Civil War (1861–1865).

Religious fervor accompanied the drive for a democratic common denominator and carried in it a mission for the country: America was to be the best example of democracy and would serve as a model for all the world. Reiterating a belief expressed frequently in the documents of the Continental Congress, Thomas Jefferson said, we "acted not for ourselves alone, but for the whole human race" (Nye, p. 12).

THE RANGE AND SCOPE OF LYRIC POETRY

The lyric poetry of 1820 to 1870 in America was as rich and diverse and contradictory as the decades themselves. Jones Very (1813–1880) in "The Hand and Foot" expresses the contradiction of the commanding but invisible presence of God and compounds it with the contradiction of inaction resulting in action.

"FEMALE EDUCATION"


Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791–1865) published more than 46 books and 2,000 articles in her lifetime. Her poetry addressed pressing issues such as abolition and women's rights, and also contemplated personal issues of loss and suffering common to the period. Although her first book, Moral Pieces, in Prose and Verse (1815), was published under her own name, she subsequently published under a pseudonym. In 1830 when her husband's business failed, she resumed publishing under her own name and supported the family with her writing income. Although her writing has been criticized for being sentimental, she was included in an 1849 series that also published Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) and William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878). This poem was probably addressed to Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1652–1695), a South American poet who promoted the education of women.


Thou, of the living lyrd,
Thou, of the lavish clime,
Whose mountains mix their lightning-fire
With the storm-cloud sublime,
We, of thy sister-land
The empire of the free,
Joy as those patriot-breasts expand
With genial Liberty.
Thy flowers their fragrant breast
Unfold to catch its ray,
And Nature's velvet-tissued vest
With brighter tint is gay,
More blest thy rivers roll Full tribute to the Sea,
And even Woman's cloister'd soul
Walks forth among the free.
Aid with thy tuneful strain
Her bold, adventurous way,
Bid the long-prisoned mind attain
A sphere of dazzling day,
Bid her unpinion'd foot
The cliffs of knowledge climb,
And search for Wisdom's sacred root
That mocks the blight of time.

Sigourney, Zinzendorff, p. 66.

The hand and foot that stir not, they shall find
Sooner than all the rightful place to go;
Now in their motion free as roving wind,
Though first no snail more limited and slow;
I mark them full of labor all the day,
Each active motion made in perfect rest
They cannot from their path mistaken stray,
Though 'tis not theirs, yet in it they are blest;
The bird has not their hidden track found out,
Nor cunning fox though full of art he be;
It is the way unseen, the certain route,
Where ever bound, yet thou art ever free;
The path of Him, whose perfect law of love
Bids spheres and atoms in just order move.

(P. 193)

The theme is reiterated in other poems including "The Silent" in which God speaks in the oxymoron of a silent voice:

There is a sighing in the wood,
A murmur in the beating wave;
The heart has never understood
To tell in words the thoughts they gave.
Yet oft it feels an answering tone,
When wandering on the lonely shore;
And could the lips its voice make known,
'Twould sound as does the ocean's roar.
And oft beneath the wind swept pine,
Some chord is struck the strain to swell;
Nor sounds nor language can define,
'Tis not for words or sounds to tell.
'Tis all unheard; that Silent Voice,
Whose goings forth unknown to all,
Bids bending reed and bird rejoice,
And fills with music nature's hall.
And in the speechless human heart It speaks,
where'er man's feet have trod;
Beyond the lips' deceitful art,
To tell of Him, the Unseen God.

(P. 202)

The simple title is a complexity unto itself, for there are three possibilities for who or what is "The Silent." God speaks with a silent voice and so is silent. Humans are unable to articulate that which God speaks, so they are silent: "Nor sounds nor language can define, / 'Tis not for words or sounds to tell." Even nature appears to be silent except in its iteration of God's voice and will: "Bids bending reed and bird rejoice / and fills with music Nature's hall."

Very was born in Massachusetts and attended Harvard. There he was influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), who said in an address to the Divinity School senior class, "God incarnates himself in man" (Bain, p. 135). This is a tenet of the informal transcendental movement and is clearly seen in Very's poems: God speaks in the human heart, as he does in the wind, and his "perfect law of love" directs the movement not only of planets but of the atoms that make up the larger world including human life.

Although Very wrote forward into the transcendental movement, he became identified with it after the fact of his writing and is not so much a product of the movement as he is emblematic of the change in thinking that took place in the early nineteenth century. The form and style of his poems reflect a bridge to the past as much as their content reflects a bridge to the future. "The Hand and Foot" is a sonnet, a poetic form that dates back to the thirteenth century. "The Silent" is also rhymed and metered, a poetic convention that would only begin to lose its grip on poetry toward the end of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. The retention of form in poetry not only acknowledged the heritage of the new poems but also offered some measure of order in a world that was changing swiftly. Readers of the poetry of the time seemed to prefer this familiar comfort to the transformed writing of Dickinson and Whitman who defined their own forms and also defined their own subject matter, for both of them more a matter of consciousness and the unconscious workings of the mind than the workings of the world.

As Very was influenced at Harvard by Emerson, so was Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821–1873) influenced by Very, also while at Harvard. Very was Tuckerman's tutor in Greek, a common element in the nineteenth-century university curriculum. Tuckerman was born in Boston and spent some time in England. Most of his poems are sonnets, but the one that sets him apart is the 131-line "The Cricket" (c. 1870). Written in five sections, it would not have been considered unduly long. It is a mix of rhymed and metered lines coupled with blank and free verse. Section 1 starts conventionally with "The humming bee purrs softly o'er his flower; / From lawn and thicket / The dogday locust singeth in the sun / From hour to hour" (p. 69), but in section 2 the steady lines give way to play with sound and sense, the rhymes coming not in regular order, but in a tumble that echoes the statement of the section:

There let the dull hop be,
Let bloom, with poppy's dark refreshing flower:
Let the dead fragrance round our temples beat,
Stunning the sense to slumber,
whilst between The falling water and fluttering wind
Mingle and meet,
Murmur and mix,
No few faint pipings from the glades behind,
Or alder-thicks:
But louder as the day declines,
From tingling tassel, blade, and sheath,
Rising from nets of river vines,
Winrows and ricks,
Above, beneath,
At every breath,
At hand, around, illimitably
Rising and falling like the sea,
Acres of cricks! (Pp. 69–70)

Section 3 of the poem introduces a subject common to nineteenth-century poetics: the struggle to comprehend and live with loss and grief. Tuckerman lost an infant daughter and then his wife. In the poem, the singing of the cricket stirs dual and contradictory emotions: happy memory and sorrowful remembrance:

Thou bringest too, dim accents from the grave
To him who walketh when the day is dim,
Dreaming of those who dream no more of him,
With edged remembrances of joy and pain;
And heyday looks and laughter come again:
Forms that in happy sunshine lie and leap,
with faces where but now a gap must be,
Renunciations, and partitions deep
And perfect tears, and crowning vacancy!
And to thy poet at the twilight's hush,
No chirping touch of lips with laugh and blush,
But wringing arms, hearts wild with love and woe,
Closed eyes, and kisses that would not let go.

(Ll. 50–62)

The draw to death as a subject is understandable in an era before the discovery of penicillin and other benefits of twentieth-century medicine. A measure of the depth of loss was the occasional practice of not naming a child before the age of one lest it not live through those vulnerable years.

The poem "Death of an Infant" by Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791–1865) models the sentimental poem of the early nineteenth century, marked by a glossing-over of the darker elements of loss: "But there beamed a smile, / So fixed, so holy, from that cherub brow, / Death gazed, and left it there. He dared not steal / The signet ring of Heaven" (Select Poems, p. 31). Poems such as this were especially popular among women, but twentieth-century rereadings of women's writing of the nineteenth century have revealed a robust literature that seriously addresses compelling issues, including death. "The Stars," by Sigourney, was well-known. This first stanza addresses stars in general. Subsequent stanzas address specific constellations and reveal Sigourney's knowledge of classic mythologies.

The Stars
Make friendship with the stars.
Go forth at night,
And talk with Aldebaran, where he flames
In the cold forehead of the wintry sky.
Turn to the sister Pleiades, and ask
If there be death in Heaven? A blight to fall
Upon the brightness of unfrosted hair?
A severing of fond hearts? A place of graves?
Our sympathies are with you, stricken stars,
Clustering so closely round the lost one's place.
Too well we know the hopeless toil to hide
The chasm in love's fond circle. The lone seat
Where the meek grandsire, with his silver locks,
Reclined so happily; the fireside chair
Whence the fond mother fled; the cradle turn'd
Against the wall, and empty; well we know
The untold anguish, when some dear one falls.
How oft the life-blood trickling from our hearts,
Reveals a kindred spirit torn away!
Tears are our birth-right, gentle sister train,
And more we love you, if like us ye mourn.

(Select Poems, pp. 21–22)

PUBLIC TRAGEDIES

Besides struggling with personal loss, citizens of the fitful new country also had to come to terms with the public tragedies of slavery, the Civil War, the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (14 April 1865), and the desperate situation of the American Indians. The 1830 Removal Act allowed relocation of eastern Native Americans to western land and culminated in the 1838–1839 Cherokee Trail of Tears, a forced migration that resulted in the deaths of more than four thousand Cherokee people. More concerned with affairs outside the home than was generally recognized in literary criticism, which held that women were restricted to sentimental writing by virtue of their gender, Sigourney empathized, in "Indian Names" (1834), with the Native Americans and their situation:

Wachuset hides its lingering voice
Within its rocky heart,
And Alleghany graves its tone
Throughout his lofty chart:
Monadnock on his forehead hoar
Doth seal the sacred trust;
Your mountains build their monument,
Though ye destroy their dust.

(Select Poems, pp. 259–260)

Sigourney, born in Connecticut, was one of the most successful women writers in the mid-nineteenth century. She supported her family with her publications after her husband's finances collapsed. Godey's Lady's Book, the most popular women's magazine of the era, paid her $500 annually just to list her name as an editor. The literary editor of Godey's was another successful woman writer, Sarah Josepha Hale (1788–1879), who was born in New Hampshire. Although her most well-known poem is the sentimental children's nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Hale, widowed with five children, supported her family with her writing, publishing, and editing, including her publication of anthologies of writing by women. Hale's passion for her work is revealed in a passage from "First Hour" (1848), a section of her longer work "Three Hours; or, The Vigil of Love":

A blessing on the printer's art!
Books are the Mentors of the heart.
The burning soul, the burdened mind,
In books alone companions find.
We never speak our deepest feelings;
Our holiest hopes have no revealings,
Save in the gleams that light the face,
Or fancies that the pen may trace:
And hence to books the heart must turn,
When with unspoken thoughts we yearn;
And gather from the silent page
The just reproof, the counsel sage,
The consolation kind and true
That soothes and heals the wounded heart,
As on the broken plant the dew
Calls forth fresh leaves and buds to view,
More lovely as the old depart.

( Three Hours, pp. 19–20)

Publishing also afforded opportunity to African Americans, who were otherwise generally disenfranchised from business ventures. George Moses Horton (c. 1798–c. 1880) probably born in North Carolina was regarded to be the first professional African American poet and was published when he was still a slave. In the 1840s he successfully published his collected poems through subscription, a common means of publishing in the eighteenth century. In "The Art of a Poet" (1865), Horton wrote about the intellectual endeavor of writing poetry. He contemplates the process, ending with acknowledgment of the prize:

A bard must traverse o'er the world,
Where things concealed must rise unfurled,
And tread the foot of yore;
Tho' he may sweetly harp and sing,
But strictly prune the mental wing,
Before the mind can soar.

(Naked Genius, p. 98)

Horton also wrote about slavery, and about the Civil War. In "The Spectator of the Battle of Belmont, November 6, 1863," he articulates the unspeakable impact of battle—"What mortal, the fate of this combat shall tell?"—certain that a human cannot fully tell the tale: "The dark dirge of destiny, sung by a spirit, / Alone can the scene of the combat display" (p. 50). He also wrote about Lincoln's assassination and, in "Lincoln Is Dead" (1865), found compensation in the loss: "He is gone out of glory to glory, / A smile with the tear may be shed; / O, then let us tell the sweet story, / Triumphantly, Lincoln is dead" (p. 31).

Herman Melville (1819–1891), born in New York City, who is best known for Moby-Dick and other novels, also wrote about Lincoln's assassination. In "The Martyr" (1866) he closed with a bitter triumph: "There is sobbing of the strong, / And a pall upon the land; / But the People in their weeping / Bare the iron hand; / Beware the People weeping / When they bare the iron hand" (p. 122).

Prior to the Civil War, abolition was a common poetic theme often couched in the issue of the integrity of the new nation. John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892) was especially well known for his abolitionist stance, as was Melville, who predicted war as the inevitable outcome of the hanging of John Brown (1800–1859), an abolitionist who became a martyr to the cause. At the time, "weird" meant having the power to direct fate, and meteors were believed to portend significant human events. In Melville's poem "The Portent" (1859, 1866), the image of Brown's signature flowing beard is conflated with the image of a streaming meteor.

Hanging from the beam,
slowly swaying (such the law),
Gaunt the shadow on your green,
Shenandoah!
The cut is on the crown
(Lo, John Brown),
And the stabs shall heal no more.
Hidden in the cap
Is the anguish none can draw;
So your future veils its face,
Shenandoah!
But the streaming beard is shown
(Weird John Brown),
The meteor of the war.

(P. 53)

In 1851 Very also enjoined the argument, believing that slavery enslaved the country that condoned it:

Slavery
Not by the railing tongues of angry men,
Who have not learned their passions to control;
Not by the scornful words of press and pen,
That now ill-omened fly from pole to pole;
Not by fierce party cries; nor e'en by blood,
Can this our Country's guilt be washed away;
In vain for this would flow the crimson flood,
In vain for this would man his brother slay.
Not by such means; but by the power of prayer;
Of faith in God, joined with a sense of sin;
These, these alone can save us from despair,
And o'er the mighty wrong a victory win;
These, these alone make us free from all
That doth ourselves, our Country still inthral.

(P. 265)

Women also wrote about slavery. Sigourney's "To the First Slave Ship" (c. 1827) imagines the situation for the slaves who live with the injustice: "The fetter'd chieftain's burning tear,—/ The parted lover's mute despair,—/ The childless mother's pang severe,—/ The orphan's misery, are there" (Poems, p. 176).

THE FRONTIER OF THE MIND

The exigencies of the body and its earthly state easily commanded the attention of poets. Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) was known both for his sensational and thoughtful short stories, and poems such as "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee." He was especially adept at parsing the dark side of the human condition, and he generally did not temper his vision with comforting thoughts of triumph in death. "The Conqueror Worm" (1843) ends without benefit of hope:

Out—out are the lights—out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
And the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.

(Pp. 78–79)

The little comfort that Poe is able to muster comes not from the potential of the future but from the fact of the past:

To Helen
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy-Land!

(P. 62)

Poe used conventional forms in this and other poems, and called upon traditional mythologies outside of the American experience, but the wild nature of the stories he tells in both the poems and fiction breaks new ground for writers. Although not aligned with the transcendentalists, he shares with them, and with Whitman and Dickinson, the territory of the unconscious as proper subject for poetic treatment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) and Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) are the standard-bearers of the transcendental movement. Although both are primarily recognized for their essays, both wrote poetry that echoed the sentiments of the prose: it is not necessary to wait for the afterlife to attain union with God and the perfection and peace that attend that union. For the transcendentalist, God exists everywhere and is accessible through experience on earth, especially by way of contemplation, by yielding to nature, and through the work of the imagination. In this way, the soul can transcend the limitations of the body. Emerson's fifty-line, single-stanza "Each and All" (1839) walks the reader through a pastoral scene and concludes:

Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground,
Over me soared the eternal sky,
Full of light and deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;—
Beauty through my senses stole;
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.

(P. 10)

Thoreau, too, excels at elucidating the pastoral, as in "A Winter and Spring Scene" which he brings to rest in a transcendent moment:

The catkins green
Cast o'er the scene
A summer sheen,
A genial glow.

(P. 583)

The transcendental promise offered a new means of relief for ever-present loss. Instead of pining for peace in heaven, it can be gained through surrender to the presence of God in the present time and space. This expansion of the mental landscape echoed the geographic opening of the west and its opportunity without boundary.

THE PRAIRIES

From 1820 to 1870 fifteen states were admitted to the Union, from Maine to California and Minnesota to Texas. Three of them, Kansas, West Virginia, and Nevada, were admitted during the Civil War. Immigration expanded from 60,000 a year in 1820 to a peak of 427,833 a year in 1854.

The expansion into the West, which in the early 1800s referred to today's Midwest, was fueled by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, a belief that the United States not only had the right to incorporate all of North America into its borders but also had an obligation to do so. This was consistent with the ideals of the country: that America was destined to lead the world in progress and achievement, and in democracy grounded in freedom.

The immigrant experience was often nurtured in hope and experienced in dismay. The potential wealth of the land had to be freed from its wildness—woods cleared, roads made, sod broken into soil for farming. The physical task was daunting, and although men and women both yielded to the necessity, many longed for the comforts left behind. In Sigourney's "The Western Emigrant" (1836), a husband is saddened by his wife's tears:

"Wife! did I see thee brush away a tear?
'Twas even so. Thy heart was with the halls
Of thy nativity. Their sparkling lights,
Carpets, and sofas, and admiring guests,
Befit thee better than these rugged walls
Of shapeless logs, and this lone, hermit home."

(Select Poems, p. 65)

Then, in sleep, he gives in to his own longing:

Up rose the thronging mart
Of his own native city,—roof and spire,
All glittering bright, in fancy's frost-work ray.
The steed his boyhood nurtur'd proudly neigh'd,
The favorite dog came frisking round his feet,
With shrill and joyous bark,—familiar doors
Flew open,—greeting hands with his were link'd
In friendship's grasp,—he heard the keen debate
From congregated haunts, where mind with mind
Doth blend and brighten,—and till morning rov'd
'Mid the loved scenery of his native land.

(Pp. 65–66)

Yearning and loss of place were also elements of poems that recognized the devastating experiences of the American Indians, dispossessed of their homes not by will but by mandate. Sigourney spoke to this in "Indian Names," and others also memorialized the loss, as did Micah Flint in "The Mounds of Cahokia" (1826):

Farewell; and may you still in peace repose.
Still o'er you may the flowers, untrodden, bloom.
And gently wave to every wind, that blows,
Breathing their fragrance o'er each lonely tomb,
Where earthward mouldering, in the same dark womb,
Ye mingle with the dust from whence ye rose.

(Olson, pp. 60–61)

However, the more common approach to the western experience was sentimental (Bain, p. xxvii). In his study The Prairie in Nineteenth Century American Poetry, Steven Olson notes examples of the romanticized experience, even regarding death, as in William Leggett's (1801–1839) "Lines Written on Leaving Illinois, Aug. 29, 1822":

Beneath the prairie turf they lie,
And sweetest wild-flow'rs deck the sod;
Their spirits soar beyond the sky
In sweet communion with their God.

(Olson, p. 60)

J. K. Mitchell, in "The Song of the Prairie" (1848, 1874), represents the land in sonorous and benign terms reminiscent of familiar and sentimental descriptions of oceans:

O! Fly to the prairie, sweet maiden, with me,
'Tis as green and as wide and as wild as the sea:
O'er its soft silken bosom the summer winds glide,
And wave that wild grass in billowy pride.

(Olson, pp. 62–63)

Poems like this one were especially popular in newspapers and magazines that were sold to a public hungry for news of the promising West.

THE TECHNOLOGY FRONTIER

The other promise at hand came with advances in industry and transportation. The incursion of roads and railroads proceeded steadily westward, the steam engine transformed river traffic, and the invention of the telegraph united the nation in time, as did the great media industry that sprang from advances in printing technology. Steam presses, advances in typography, and improved distribution systems cohered into an unprecedented publishing force that was unconstrained by copyright. The first such law was not passed in the United States until 1891 and reprints were produced without regard to ownership of the material. An increasingly literate reading public and improved oil lamps to read by at night fostered a ready market. From 1820 to 1860 publishing revenues increased eightfold, and an authors' list long dominated by Europeans became dominated by Americans.

Americans were not surprised. Progress was part of the national agenda and carried the imprimatur of the divine, as noted by Very in 1858:

The First Atlantic Telegraph
With outward signs, as well as inward life,
The world is hastening onward to its end!
With higher purposes our Age is rife,
Than those to which with grovelling minds we tend.
For lo! beneath the Atlantic's stormy breast
Is laid, from shore to shore, the Electric Wire;
And words, with speed of thought, from east to west
Dart to and fro on wings that never tire.
May never man, to higher objects blind,
Forget by whom this miracle was wrought;
But worship and adore the Eternal Mind,
Which gave at length to man the wondrous thought;
And on wise-hearted men bestowed the skill
His Providential Purpose to fulfill.

(Pp. 311–312)

POETRY'S PLACE

Poetry was an integral cultural element of the nineteenth century. It was used to instruct and inform, to promote social change and to entertain. The freewheeling development of a mass media provided opportunity for new voices to be heard: the market needed verse and poets profited from the need. Although not all poetry written was great, it was greatly needed: it helped articulate the experiences and values of the adolescent country and kept it in touch with the serious business of the soul. The refrain in Sigourney's "Poetry" (1836) warns "'Oh, speak no ill of poetry, / For 'tis a holy thing'" (Select Poems, p. 232). Melville, writing in 1891, defined the process:

Art
In placid hours well-pleased we dream
Of many a brave unbodied scheme.
But form to lend, pulsed life create,
What unlike things must meet and mate:
A flame to melt—a wind to freeze;
Sad patience—joyous energies;
Humility—yet pride and scorn;
Instinct and study; love and hate;
Audacity—reverence. These must mate,
And fuse with Jacob's mystic heart,
To wrestle with the angel—Art.

(P. 322)

See alsoFireside Poets; Poems of Emily Dickinson; Popular Poetry; Taste

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Works

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Collected Poems and Translations. New York: Library of America, 1994.

Griswold, Rufus. The Poets and Poetry of America. Carefully rev., much enl. New York: J. Miller, 1873.

Hale, Sarah Josepha. Poems for Our Children. Boston: R. W. Hale, 1830.

Hale, Sarah Josepha. Three Hours; or, The Vigil of Love; and Other Poems. Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1848.

Horton, George Moses. The Poetical Works for George M.

Horton, the Colored Bard of North Carolina. Hillsborough, N.C.: D. Heartt, 1845.

Horton, George Moses. Naked Genius. Raleigh, N.C. : Wm. B. Smith and Co., 1865.

Melville, Herman. The Poems of Herman Melville. Edited by Douglas Robillard. Rev. ed. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2000.

Poe, Edgar Allan. Poetry and Tales. New York: Library of America, 1984.

Sigourney, Lydia Huntley. Select Poems. Philadelphia: Parry and McMillan, 1856.

Sigourney, Lydia Huntley. Zinzendorff. New York: Leavitt, Lord and Co., 1836.

Thoreau, Henry David. Collected Essays and Poems. New York: Library of America, 2001.

Tuckerman, Frederick Goddard. Complete Poems. Edited by N. Scott Momaday. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.

Very, Jones. The Complete Poems. Edited by Helen R. Deese. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993.

Secondary Works

Bain, Robert, ed. Whitman's & Dickinson's Contemporaries:An Anthology of Their Verse. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

Coultrap-McQuin, Susan. Doing Literary Business:American Women Writers in the Nineteenth Century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Gray, Janet, ed. She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997.

Kizer, Carolyn, ed. 100 Great Poems by Women: A Golden Ecco Anthology. Hopewell, N.J.: Ecco Press, 1995.

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Susan Carol Hauser

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