Three Centuries of American Poetry [NOOK Book]


A comprehensive overview of America's vast poetic heritage, Three Centuries of American Poetry features the work of some 150 of our nation's finest writers. It includes selections from Anne Bradstreet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, e. e. cummings, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, and Gertrude Stein, as well as significant works of ...
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Three Centuries of American Poetry

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A comprehensive overview of America's vast poetic heritage, Three Centuries of American Poetry features the work of some 150 of our nation's finest writers. It includes selections from Anne Bradstreet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, e. e. cummings, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, and Gertrude Stein, as well as significant works of lesser-known American poets.

From the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to the Romantic Era and the Gilded and Modern Ages, this unrivaled anthology also presents a memorable array of rare ballads, songs, hymns, spirituals, and carols that echo through our nation's history. Highlights include Native American poems, African American writings, and the works of Quakers, colonists, Huguenots, transcendentalists, scholars, slaves, politicians, journalists, and clergymen.

These discerning selections demonstrate that the American canon of poetry is as diverse as the nation itself, and constantly evolving as we pass through time. Most important, this collection strongly reflects the peerless stylings that mark the American poetic experience as unique. Here, in one distinguished volume, are the many voices of the New World.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the exceedingly brief, almost offhand introduction to this chunky anthology, the editors assert that "there ain't no canon," and that their aim is to hold out "an invitation to the reader of today and to those poets whose names we do not yet know." Such sloppy vagaries aside, one assumes that their intent is to represent diversity of a sort, but in fact two-thirds of the volume is made up of 19th-century poetry covered far more thoroughly in the Library of America's American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (LJ 9/1/93), and no rationale is given for the rather strange cut-off date of 1923--unless it has something to do with copyright. There are the usual heavy doses of Whitman, Dickinson, and Stevens, a smattering of spirituals, popular song lyrics, and Native American poems, along with an occasional dash of obscure names such as Ellen Sturgis Hooper and Lucretia Davidson. But given its lack of headnotes or other supporting scholarly materials, this is yet one more hastily contrived, redundant anthology no one has been waiting for. Not recommended.--Fred Muratori, Cornell University Lib., Ithaca, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307569233
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/14/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 768
  • Sales rank: 453,110
  • File size: 3 MB

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On the Canon of American Poetry

There ain't no canon. There ain't going to be any canon. There never has been a canon. That's the canon.

This formulation (which I make bold to take from Gertrude Stein's famous comment on her philosophy, "There ain't any answer, etc.") is literally true. It is now more than two hundred years since the appearance of the first anthology of American verse: Elihu H. Smith's American Poems of 1793. Of the fifteen poets and sixty-five poems in that volume, only two poets (Joel Barlow and Philip Freneau) and only one poem (Freneau's "Hurricane") have survived to stand in the present anthology. Of the fifty-five poets represented in the 1840 Gems of American Poetry, only one is represented here, and that one is Clement Moore, the author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

By 1900 there was so much American poetry to choose from that extreme anthological principles were invoked. E. C. Stedman's American Anthology of 1900 included works by 537 poets, while C. H. Page's The Chief American Poets (1905) whittled that number down to nine. If Stedman seems unfocused, Page seems rash. Page included Bryant, Poe, Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell, Whitman, and Lanier. No Bradstreet, no Taylor, no Dickinson, no Melville, no Robinson. In the cases of Taylor and Dickinson, we are simply lucky that the twentieth century discovered and printed poetry that was unknown in its own day. In the cases of Bradstreet, Melville, and Robinson, one can only say that taste changes. It is difficult to find a single American poet, currently considered important, who has not, at some time, for some reason, been left out. The anthology called Parnassus (1874), edited by Ralph Waldo Emerson and his daughter Edith, inexplicably contains no poetry by Whitman. Oscar Williams's and Edwin Honig's Major American Poets (1962) contains no T. S. Eliot because Eliot's publisher's policy at the time was "not to allow Mr. Eliot's poetry to appear in paperback books selling for less than $1.75."

More discoveries will be made and taste will change. An anthology of American poetry a hundred years from now will be as different from this one as this one is from either Stedman's or Page's. This volume is not intended to set a seal upon the past. It is meant, rather, as an invitation to the reader of today and to those poets whose names we do not yet know. "In our ordinary states of mind," Emerson once observed, "we deem not only letters in general but the most famous books part of a pre-established harmony, fatal, unalterable. . . . But Man is critic of all these also and should treat the entire extant product of the human intellect as only one age, revisable, corrigible, reversible by him."

The canon is dead. Long live the canon.

Robert D. Richardson, Jr.

Middletown, Connecticut

August 1998


Wallace Stevens urges: "Speak it." But speech has many variants: murmur, chant, song, bluster, malediction, hymn, psalm--modes that conjure not a chorus but a fraternity-sorority of soloists. The patient work of many bless├Ęd editors has in our present century amplified the speech of earlier centuries, giving Bradstreet, Taylor, Dickinson, Melville, and many others fuller voice, restoring neglected words.

Faced with those words, the reader-hearer is often more ecumenical than the poet. T. S. Eliot needs to bracket/browbeat the Romantics and hosanna the Metaphysical soloists; but the reader can listen attentively, sympathetically to both Shelley and Donne. Thus this American anthology is, if anything, ecumenical: two tastes, two long--and often different--experiences with texts combined in shaping it.

Taste is perhaps more kin to opinion than it is to thought. But we have tried to think through the vicissitudes of taste and to ingather poetic speech that conjures the speaker in a way that reaches us today. We have sought those words that ask to be read aloud.

We have moved as often as possible past the anthological tendency/itch to gather snippets; and where--of necessity--we have cut, we hope that our selections invite to fuller reconnaissance. The Puritan register, its anxious colloquy with an all-powerful Lord, is amply represented--allowing us to see, above all in Edward Taylor, the energy that declares man's puniness and then subverts that declaration with percussive creativity. We have mined the resources of Longfellow's taletelling, his fluent narrative, and given space, too, to his elegiac awareness of the futilities woven into the mind of the narrator. The declarative "I" of Whitman--as well as his shadowed, self-questioning self--are here; so, too, is the adroit, investigative "I" of Dickinson--her barbed lyre. In the post-Puritan age of the pensioned god, we have drawn fully on that replete rabbi, Wallace Stevens, one who shuns the "I" but is obsessed with the third person, not least the penetrating "she" who "says" and "hears" in "Sunday Morning."

We have grouped our many soloists in historical chapters-cantos-contexts, stages in America's way(s); and we have ordered the endnotes, too, in accord with the birth dates of the poets. In sectioning off those time contexts, we have remembered that "speech" also includes the quiet domestic solos that invited attention in the parlor and those cadenzas that stirred applause in the music hall. And outdoors, beneath the heavens, we have not neglected the impassioned plaint that rose from the fields of slavery, and from the people whom our hunger for land and our labors dispossessed.

In sum, the poet is not a historian, but his voice begins where the historian's begins. He breathes in time. Aloud.

Loud enough to enter our significant present as we conjure the vicissitudes of an America still coming to terms with its varied selves--reaching beyond hygienic homiletics, slick Sunday supplements, and small beer.

The gamut of registers and content which that reaching involves is indeed wide: this book, then, is a sampling, but one that is, we hope, both broad and detailed.

Allen Mandelbaum

Wake Forest University
University of Turin

August 1998

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

On the Canon of American Poetry xxxi Of Those "Who Live and Speak for Aye" xxxiii


JOHN SMITH The Sea Marke 3

ROGER WILLIAMS Of Eating and Entertainment 3

ANNE BRADSTREET The Author to Her Book 4
To My Dear and Loving Husband 5
Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th, 1666 5
Epitaphs for Queen Elizabeth 6
Contemplations 7
from The Four Ages of Man Old Age 14
The Prologue 14
Anagrams 16

MICHAEL WIGGLESWORTH from The Day of Doom 16

Bacons Epitaph 18

from Gods Determinations The Preface 20
from Preparatory Meditations: First Series The Reflexion 21
Meditation 6 22
Meditation 8 23
from Meditation 22 24
from Preparatory Meditations: Second Series from Meditation 7 25
from Meditation 35 25
from Meditation 36 26
from Meditation 43 26
from Meditation 77 27
The Likenings of Edward Taylor: A Gathering of Tropes from Preparatory Meditations: First Series from Meditation 3 28
from Meditation 39 29
from Preparatory Meditations: Second Series from Meditation 5 29
from Meditation 18 30
from Meditation 25 30
from Meditation 67B 31
from Meditation 75 32
from Miscellaneous Poems Upon a Spider Catching a Fly 33
Huswifery 34
Upon Wedlock, And Death of Children 35

RICHARD STEERE from A Monumental Memorial of Marine Mercy 36

THOMAS MAULE To Cotton Mather, from a Quaker 37

EBENEZER COOKE from The Sot-weed Factor 38

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN Epitaph in Bookish Style. 39

JANE COLMAN TURELL You Beauteous Dames 40
from An Invitation into the Country 41

ANONYMOUS The Cameleon Lover (1732) 41
The Cameleon's Defence (1732) 42


DANIEL BLISS Epitaph of John Jack 43

ANONYMOUS The Country School 43
Songs and Hymns: To 1775
The Lord to Mee a Shepherd Is (The Bay Psalm Book, 1640) 45
A Whaling Song (John Osborn, n.d.) 46
Christ the Apple-Tree (Anonymous, 1761) 47
Springfield Mountain (Irma Townsend Ireland, 1761) 48
Let Tyrants Shake (William Billings, 1770) 49
Wak'd by the Gospel's Joyful Sound (Samson Occom, 1774) 50


JOHN TRUMBULL from M'Fingal 55
from The Town-Meeting, a.m. 55

PHILIP FRENEAU from George the Third's Soliloquy 57
from The House of Night--A Vision 58
from The British Prison Ship 60
The Vanity of Existence--To Thyrsis 61
The Hurricane 62
The Wild Honey Suckle 63
The Indian Burying Ground 63
On the Uniformity and Perfection of Nature 64
Epitaph for Jonathan Robbins 65

PHILLIS WHEATLEY To the University of Cambridge in New England, America 67
America 68

JOEL BARLOW from The Hasty Pudding 69
from The Vision of Columbus 72
from The Columbiad 74

SONGS AND HYMNS: 1775-1825
Yankee Doodle (Anonymous, 1776) 76
The Yankee Man-of-War (Anonymous, 1778) 77
See! How the Nations Rage Together (Richard Allen, 1801) 78
I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord (Timothy Dwight, 1801) 80
Poor Wayfaring Stranger (Anonymous, n.d.) 81
Walk Softly (Shaker Hymn, n.d.) 81
I Will Bow and Be Simple (Shaker Hymn, n.d.) 82
Home, Sweet Home (John Howard Payne, 1823) 82
Oh Thou, to Whom in Ancient Time (John Pierpont, 1824) 82


from The Prairies 89
Green River 90
To Cole, the Painter, Departing for Europe 91

LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY The Indian's Welcome to the Pilgrim Fathers 92
from The Stars 93
Death of an Infant 94

GEORGE MOSES HORTON Early Affection 94


Each and All 99
Hamatreya 100
The Rhodora 102
The Snowstorm 102
Ode Inscribed to W. H. Channing 103
Give All to Love 106
Bacchus 107
Blight 109
Dirge 110
Threnody 112
Concord Hymn 118
Brahma 119
Boston Hymn 119
Days 122
Terminus 122
Experience 123
from Quatrains Poet [I] 124
Poet [II] 124
Shakspeare 124
Memory 124
Climacteric 124
Unity 125
Circles 125
from Life 125
from The Exile 125

To------ 126


from Snow-Bound--A Winter Idyl 129
Ichabod 134
The Fruit Gift 135

The Christian Slave 141
from Yorktown 142

A Psalm of Life 144
The Wreck of the Hesperus 145
Excelsior 148
The Slave in the Dismal Swamp 149
The Warning 150
The Arrow and the Song 150
Mezzo Cammin 151
from Fragments December 18, 1847 151
August 4, 1856 151
Elegaic Verse XII 151
Jugurtha 152
The Cross of Snow 152
The Sound of the Sea 152
Chaucer 153
Divina Commedia 153
Snow-flakes 155
The Children's Hour 156
Sandalphon 157
My Lost Youth 159
Haunted Houses 161
from Evangeline 162
from The Song of Hiawatha Hiawatha's Fasting 163
The Jewish Cemetery at Newport 167
from Michael Angelo: A Fragment from Monologue: The Last Judgment 169
from In the Coliseum 169
from From the Anglo-Saxon The Grave 170
from Tales of a Wayside Inn The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride 171
The Spanish Jew's Tale: The Legend of Rabbi Ben Levi 174
The Spanish Jew's Tale: Azrael 176
Delia 177
Dedication 177

LUCRETIA DAVIDSON The Fear of Madness 177

EDGAR ALLAN POE Sonnet--to Science 178
To Helen 178
Israfel 179
The City in the Sea 180
The Haunted Palace 181
Sonnet, Silence 183
The Conqueror Worm 183
Lenore 184
The Raven 185
Ulalume--A Ballad 189
The Bells 191
A Dream Within a Dream 194
For Annie 195
Eldorado 197
Annabel Lee 198
Monody on Doctor Olmsted 199

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES from An After-Dinner Poem (Terpsichore) 199
Aestivation 201
Ballad of the Oysterman 201
The Chambered Nautilus 202
The Deacon's Masterpiece 203
The Last Leaf 206
Old Ironsides 207
Peau de Chagrin of State Street 208
The Poet Grows Old 208


MARGARET FULLER Let me Gather from the Earth 210
Winged Sphinx 210

FRANCES S. OSGOOD He Bade me be Happy 211

ELLEN STURGIS HOOPER I Slept and Dreamed 211

JONES VERY The Dead 212
Thy Better Self 212
Enoch 212
The Latter Rain 213
The Eagles 213
The New Man 214

December 215
The Autumn Rain 216

HENRY DAVID THOREAU Love Equals Swift and Slow 217
Light-Winged Smoke 217
Though All the Fates 217
Salmon Brook 218
I Am a Parcel of Vain Strivings 218
All Things Are Current Found 219
My Life Has Been the Poem 220
Any Fool Can Make a Rule 220
I Am Bound, I Am Bound 220
The Poet's Delay 220

WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING from The Earth Spirit 221

Chant to the Fire-fly 221
From the South: I 222
From the South: II 222

The Lament of the Captive (Richard H. Wilde, 1819) 223
A Visit from St. Nicholas (Clement Moore, 1823) 223
The Old Oaken Bucket (Samuel Woodworth, 1826) 225
Mary Had a Little Lamb (Sarah Josepha Hale, 1830) 225
America (Samuel Francis Smith, 1831) 226
Woodman, Spare That Tree (George Pope Morris, 1837) 227
Nearer My God to Thee (Sarah F. Adams, 1841) 228
Old Dan Tucker (Daniel Decatur Emmett, 1841) 229
The Blue Tail Fly (Daniel Decatur Emmett?, 1846) 230
Oh, Susanna! (Stephen Foster, 1848) 231
Camptown Races (Stephen Foster, 1850) 232
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (Edmund Hamilton Sears, 1850) 233
The E-ri-e (Anonymous, c.1850) 234
Turkey in the Straw (Anonymous, 1851) 234
Listen to the Mocking Bird (Septimus Winner, 1855) 235
Jingle Bells (John Pierpont, 1857) 236
The Yellow Rose of Texas (Anonymous, 1858) 237
Sweet Betsey from Pike (John A. Stone, 1858) 237
Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus (George Duffield, Jr., 1858) 239

IV - THE CIVIL WAR ERA: 1860-1870

WALT WHITMAN One's-Self I sing 243
To the States 243
The Ship Starting 243
Song of Myself (1891-1892 ed.) 243
In Paths Untrodden 291
I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing 291
On the Beach at Night 292
Europe 293
As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life 294
The Dalliance of the Eagles 296
Cavalry Crossing a Ford 297
Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night 297
The Wound-Dresser 298
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd 300
O Captain! My Captain! 307
A Noiseless Patient Spider 308
A Prairie Sunset 308
The Dismantled Ship 308
Good-Bye My Fancy 308

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL from A Fable for Critics Phoebus 309
Emerson 310
Channing and Thoreau 310
Alcott 311
Hawthorne 311
Cooper 312
Poe 313
Longfellow 313
Philothea (Lydia Child) 314
Holmes 317
Lowell 317
from The Biglow Papers from Introduction 318
The 'Cruetin Sarjunt 318
from Under the Willows 319
Aladdin 321
from Our Own--Progression F 321

Misgivings 322
Shiloh: A Requiem 323
The House-Top, a Night Piece 323
The Martyr 324
The Apparition--A Retrospect 325
The Maldive Shark 325
To Ned 326
The Berg 326
Monody 327
Fragments of a Lost Gnostic Poem 328
The Ravaged Villa 328
My Jacket Old 328
Pontoosuc 329
from Clarel from The Hostel 331
from The Inscription 331
from Prelusive 332
from The Cypriote 333
from The Shepherd's Dale 334
from A New-Comer 334
from Ungar and Rolfe 335
Epilogue 335

ALICE CARY The Bridal Veil 336

ANN PLATO The Natives of America 337

JOSHUA MCCARTER SIMPSON from Away to Canada 338

FREDERICK GODDARD TUCKERMAN from Sonnets, First Series VI Not sometimes, but to him that heeds 339
from Sonnets, Second Series V No! Cover not the fault. The wise revere 340
VII His heart was in his garden 340
XVIII And change with hurried hand 340
from Sonnets, Fourth Series VIII Nor strange it is, to us who walk 341
from The Cricket 341
The Refrigerium 344

F.E.W. HARPER Bury Me in a Free Land 345
from Moses, A Story of the Nile The Death of Moses 346

LUCY LARCOM They Said 346
from November 347


BAYARD TAYLOR Bedouin Song 349

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 11, 2012

    Not the best anthology

    The poetry in this book is wonderful, the organization of them is terrible.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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