William Cullen Bryant William Cullen Bryant was born in Cummington, Massachusetts on November 3, 1794. His home in Cummington was surrounded by brooks, rivers, rocky hills, and woods. Bryants mother was Sarah Snell Bryant. His father, Doctor Peter Bryant, was a strict Calvinist who loved poetry, music, and was also one of the strongest men in the countryside. As a child, Bryant was sickly, but his fathers training turned him into a husky boy.
Bryant attended the district schools until he was twelve. Then, he studied Greek and Latin. In 1810, Bryant spent a year at Williams College. In 1811, Bryant began to study law, and in 1815 he was admitted to the bar. After some private study, he practiced law in Barrington, Massachusetts.
Poetry wasnt a practical occupation for Bryant, so he continued working as a lawyer and a justice of the peace in Massachusetts until he moved to New York City in 1825. Considered a child-prodigy, Bryant published his first poem at age ten and his first book at age thirteen. All of Bryants early poetry was published in the early nineteenth century, and he found his subject in the American landscape, especially that of New England. Bryants first draft of “Thanatopsis”, an elegy, was written between 1813 and 1814, when Bryant was seventeen years old. Other early poems include “To Waterfowl”, Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood”, and “The Yellow Violet”, which were all written before he was twenty-one.
A few years after Bryant wrote “Thanatopsis” and “To a Waterfowl”, Doctor Peter Bryant found them in a desk and sent them to The North American Review. Bryants father helped to publish Bryants first book, Embargo. Most materials published between 1818-1825 were previously written poems now submitted, since Bryant was known for editing his work for quite some time before submissions. “Thanatopsis” first appeared in The North American Review in 1817. Interested in technique, Bryant published “On the Use of Trisyllabic Feet in Iambic Verse” in 1819. In 1821, Bryant was invited to read the Phi Beta Kappa poem at the Harvard College commencement. Also in 1821, he married Frances Fairchild.
In 1825, Bryant moved his family to New York City to become editor of The New York Review. By this year, he was known as the finest poet in the United States. In 1826, after a year as editor on The New York Review, Bryant became an editor-in-chief at The Evening Post, a New York paper. The Evening Post was established by the “Federalist Party Stalwart”, Alexander Hamilton. Bryant had great influence on The New York Evening Post.
In fact, Bryants editorials made The Evening Post one of the most respected papers in the country. At first, Bryant stood with the Democrats on national affairs, but he finally broke with them on the slavery issue. By 1840, Bryant had largely abandoned poetry to become one of the countrys leading advocates for the abolition of slavery. In 1856, Bryant assembled the paper to Republican cause. In 1863, The Evening Post and Bryant influenced Lincolns decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Also, Bryant introduced Abraham Lincoln before an audience at Cooper Union in New York.
In Bryants later life, he traveled widely, made many public speeches, and continued to write a few poems, such as “The Death of Flowers”, “To a Fringed Gentian”, and “The Battlefield”. After the death of his wife in 1866, Bryant resumed translating The Iliad, completed in 1870, and thereafter, The Odyssey, completed in 1872. In 1876 he published a final collected edition. Bryant continued to pursue editorial work for a total of fifty years. In his book Lectures on Poetry, which was delivered in 1825 and published in 1884, he emphasized the values of simplicity, original imagination, and morality.
In 1878, after attending the dedication of a bust of himself in New York, William Cullen Bryant died, rich and successful. Conclusion Although William Cullen Bryant led a prosperous life, he is regarded as falling somewhat short of his potential. Because of this, his place in literary history is not altogether secure. Bryant lacked epics, elegies, and verse drama in his poetry, causing critics to not give him categorical honors. Nevertheless, even though he published very little as he became more and more involved in the journalistic life, he was remarkably popular in his time.
He was even at one time named as a candidate for President. Introduction William Cullen Bryant was a defender of human rights and a supporter of free trade, the abolition of slavery, and other improvements. Bryant was also an advocate of the hands off economic policy also known as “Laissez-Faire”. He is best known for his early poem, “Thanatopsis”, which granted him universal recognition. Other well known poems include “To a Waterfowl” and “The Prairies”. Bryant also translated “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”.