Fireside Poets Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell, Bryant Fireside Poets



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Fireside Poets

  • Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell, Bryant

Fireside Poets

  • Called “Fireside Poets” because families used to read and discuss their poetry around the fire
  • Similar to the way families sometimes watch TV together

Fireside Poets

  • These poets preferred conventional forms of poetry
    • No experimentation with spelling or punctuation

Fireside Poets

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

  • “Psalm of Life”
  • “Paul Revere’s Ride”

Longfellow

  • Born in Maine
  • His poetry has been translated into 24 languages

Longfellow

  • Attended Bowdoin College
    • Classmate was Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter)
    • 1825: Graduated 3rd in class

Longfellow

  • At 18, hired to teach “Modern Languages” at Bowdoin College
  • Hired under the condition that he travel Europe to study foreign languages
  • Also, he had to write his own textbooks

Longfellow

Longfellow

  • 1836: Hired as professor of “Modern Languages” at Harvard
  • Also asked to spend time in Europe for language training

Longfellow

  • Married twice: both wives died
    • Mary: Died of complications during a miscarriage
      • Wrote “Footsteps of Angels” about her
    • Frances: Died in a house fire
      • Henry also injured
        • Face was burned, could no longer shave

Longfellow

  • Despite tragedies of his wives’ deaths, poems became sentimental and optimistic
  • 1839: Voices of the Night published
    • 1st collection of poems

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

  • “Barbara Frietchie”
  • “The Slave Ships”

Whittier

Whittier

  • 1826 (19 years old): 1st published poem - “The Exile’s Departure”

Whittier

  • 1827-1828: Attended Haverhill Academy
    • Earned his living as a shoemaker and schoolteacher

Whittier

  • Followed Quaker faith
  • Very devoted to social causes and reform
    • Worked for and edited abolitionist newspapers and magazines
    • His = New England Weekly Review

Whittier

  • 1831: Delegate in Republican Convention in support of Senator Henry Clay

Whittier

Whittier

  • 1832: Ran for Congress
    • Was not elected

Whittier

  • 1834: Elected into MA State Legislature for Whig Party
    • Whig Party was formed to oppose Andrew Jackson and his Democrats
    • They believed Congress should have more power than Executive Branch
    • “Whig” had been the nickname for the colonial patriots of the Am. Rev.

Whittier

  • 1835: Mobbed and stoned (not like that) in New Hampshire because of a speech about abolition

Whittier

  • 1838: Office of his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Freeman, was burned to the ground by a pro-slavery mob

Whittier

Whittier

  • 1850s: Worked for the formation of the Republican Party
  • 1859: Engaged to Elizabeth Lloyd Howell
    • He called off the wedding

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

  • “Old Ironsides”
  • “The Chambered Nautilus”

Holmes

  • Born in Massachusetts
  • Father was a Calvinist clergyman
    • (Focuses on Grace of God, Predestination)

Holmes

  • 1829: Graduated from Harvard
  • 1836: Earned Medical degree from Harvard

Holmes

Holmes

  • 1838-1840: Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Dartmouth College
  • 1847-1853: Dean of Harvard Medical School
  • 1847-1882: Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Harvard

Holmes

  • Published 2 important Harvard lectures
    • “On the Nature of Fevers”
    • “Homeopathy and its Kindred Delusions” (against Homeopathy)
      • Treatment of disease by injecting a small amount of the disease

Holmes

  • “Old Ironsides” - 1st important poem
    • Written in protest of the destruction of the USS Constitution (War of 1812)
  • Wrote important biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

  • “War”
  • “My Love”

Lowell

Lowell

  • 1834: Began at Harvard (15 years old)
  • 1838: Graduated from Harvard
  • 1840: Earned Harvard Law degree

Lowell

  • 1843: Started a literary magazine
  • The Pioneer failed after 2 issues

Lowell

Lowell

  • 1848: The Bigelow Papers
    • One of his best known works
    • Collections of essays, stories, poetry
  • 1st series: Opposed Mexican-American War
  • 2nd series: Supported the North in the Civil War

Lowell

  • 1855-1876: Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard (after Longfellow)

Lowell

  • 1877: Appointed as Foreign Minister to London
    • While in England, he worked to promote the respect of American literature

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

  • “Thanatopsis”

Bryant

Bryant

  • 1804: (10 years old), he translated other poems from Latin to English
  • Got these published in newspapers

Bryant

  • 1812: Left Williams College to pursue Law degree
  • 1815: Admitted to the Bar
  • Practiced law for 10 years to earn money

Bryant

  • 1813: His grandfather & his friend’s fiancée died
  • Same year, at 19, wrote “Thanatopsis”
    • Said he composed it while wandering through the woods
  • “Thanatos” = death
  • “Opsis” = vision

Bryant

  • 1829: Moved to New York City
  • Became Editor-in-Chief of Evening Post

Bryant

Bryant

  • Helped bring about the American version of the Romantic Movement
    • Death and nature were 2 of the favorite topics of Romantics


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