A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Bryant, William Cullen

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Bryant, William Cullen (1794-1878). — Poet, was b. at Cummington, Massachusetts, the s. of a doctor. His ancestors on both sides came over in the Mayflower. His first poem was Thanatopsis (1817), which was greeted as the best poem produced in America up to that time. After being a lawyer for some time he was induced to exchange law for journalism, and acted as ed. of various periodicals. Among his best known poems are Lines to a Water-fowl, The Rivulet, The West Wind, The Forest Hymn, The Fringed Gentian, etc. His muse is tender and graceful, pervaded by a contemplative melancholy, and a love of solitude and the silence of the woods. Though he was brought up to admire Pope, and in his early youth imitated him, he was one of the first American poets to throw off his influence. He had a high sense of duty, was a prominent and patriotic citizen, and enjoyed the esteem and even the reverence of his fellow-countrymen. B. also produced a blank-verse translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey.