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Waiting to Be Found: The Citizen Poets of Philadelphia and New York

Waiting to Be Found: The Citizen Poets of Philadelphia and New York paul lewis   Boston College provocations Waiting to Be Found The Citizen Poets of Philadelphia and New York Disparaging poetry written in the American colonies and then in the early national period is a venerable tradition that can be traced back at least to Benjamin Franklin’s seventh Silence Dogood essay. In it Franklin seems to praise “An Elegy upon the Much Lamented Death of Mrs. Mehitebell Kitel.” Described as “[e]xtraordinary” and “moving,” it turns out, when quoted, to be extraordinarily risible: “Come let us mourn, for we have lost a Wife, a Daughter, and a Sister, / Who has lately taken Flight, and greatly we have mist her” (1). The challenges of distinguishing native from imported poems in early national magazines, a post-­ omantic bias against anonyR mous writing, and a formalist aesthetic sensibility have long led literary historians to offer negative assessments of poetry published in the United States before 1830. Lyon N. Richardson insisted that the first volume of the Massachusetts Magazine, in 1789, featured “original poetry” by “persons . . . lacking creative power and the higher associative qualities of the mind” (360). Frank Luther Mott emphasized the preference among late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-­century http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Literature University of North Carolina Press

Waiting to Be Found: The Citizen Poets of Philadelphia and New York

Early American Literature , Volume 52 (3) – Oct 31, 2017

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1534-147X
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Abstract

paul lewis   Boston College provocations Waiting to Be Found The Citizen Poets of Philadelphia and New York Disparaging poetry written in the American colonies and then in the early national period is a venerable tradition that can be traced back at least to Benjamin Franklin’s seventh Silence Dogood essay. In it Franklin seems to praise “An Elegy upon the Much Lamented Death of Mrs. Mehitebell Kitel.” Described as “[e]xtraordinary” and “moving,” it turns out, when quoted, to be extraordinarily risible: “Come let us mourn, for we have lost a Wife, a Daughter, and a Sister, / Who has lately taken Flight, and greatly we have mist her” (1). The challenges of distinguishing native from imported poems in early national magazines, a post-­ omantic bias against anonyR mous writing, and a formalist aesthetic sensibility have long led literary historians to offer negative assessments of poetry published in the United States before 1830. Lyon N. Richardson insisted that the first volume of the Massachusetts Magazine, in 1789, featured “original poetry” by “persons . . . lacking creative power and the higher associative qualities of the mind” (360). Frank Luther Mott emphasized the preference among late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-­century

Journal

Early American LiteratureUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Oct 31, 2017

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