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William Cullen Bryant, American Poet
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William Cullen Bryant (November 3, 1794 - June 12, 1878) was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post. He studied law in Massachusetts, and was admitted to the bar in 1815. In 1821 he spent months working on "The Ages", a verse poem about the history of civilization and the establishment of the United States. That poem led a collection, entitled Poems, to which he added sets of lines at the beginning and end of his poem "Thanatopsis" and his career as a poet was launched. But writing poetry could not financially sustain a family. He became Assistant Editor of the New York Evening Post under William Coleman, a newspaper founded by Alexander Hamilton. Within two years, he was Editor-in-Chief and a part owner and remained in that position for half a century (1828-78). In his last decade, Bryant shifted from writing his own poetry to a blank verse translation of Homer's works. He is also remembered as one of the principal authorities on homeopathy and as a hymnist for the Unitarian Church. He died in 1878, at the age of 83, of complications from an accidental fall. As a writer, Bryant was an early advocate of American literary nationalism, and his own poetry focusing on nature as a metaphor for truth established a central pattern in the American literary tradition.
March 7th, 2013
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