Monday, October 27, 2008

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

By Samuel Potter, ?/07

Alfred, Lord Tennyson is considered one of the greatest poets of his time or any time.
Tennyson was born on August 6, 1809, in Lincolnshire. The marshlands of eastern England where Tennyson grew up later became the setting for some of his poems.
In 1828 Tennyson entered Cambridge University. While at Cambridge, Tennyson joined a philosophical society called “the Apostles”. Meanwhile, Tennyson and his poetry were gaining popularity. In 1850 he succeeded William Wordsworth as Poet Laureate of England. In 1883 Queen Victoria awarded him the title Baron Tennyson. Tennyson died in 1892 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

William Cullen Bryant

By Arielle Potter, 9/19/07

William Cullen Bryant was born in 1798 in Cummington, Massachusetts. One of seven children, he grew up on a farm surrounded by beautiful forests. Life on the farm—corn husking, ploughing, and exploring the woods around his home—was later eulogized in his poems. At age 13 he wrote and published a poem satirizing Thomas Jefferson entitled The Embargo, which received some acclaim. Bryant attended Williams College for a few years, but could not complete his education at Yale as he wished because of the lack of necessary funds.
In the fall of 1815, when he was seventeen years old, Bryant wrote the poem Thanatopsis while wandering in the woods. He put the poem away and forgot about it, but six years later his father found it and had it published. The poem instantly received recognition and Bryant found himself a famous man. Up to that time no work by an American author had come close to it in excellence.
Although Bryant had studied to be a lawyer, he continued to write poetry and also edited the New York Evening Post. One of America’s finest journalists, he was extremely opposed to slavery and used the newspaper to gain sympathy for the abolitionist cause. He was influential in nominating Abraham Lincoln for president and through the bloody civil war which followed was one of the president’s most loyal supporters and friends.
Bryant died in 1878 at the age of 80. His poems include "To a Waterfowl", "The Fountain" and "The Battlefield", earning him the title of Father of American poetry. Later poets, including Longfellow and Whitman, fashioned their writings off of his style. A true friend and loyal supporter of the cause of humanity, Bryant was not only a great poet, but also a great American.