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Considered the most accomplished poet of his time in the United States, William Cullen Bryant was the first American poet to receive substantial international acclaim. He was also an influential journalist and liberal editor who campaigned vigorously for free trade, free speech, and an end to slavery.
Bryant was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, and grew up under the conflicting influences of his father, a liberal Unitarian physician, and his maternal grandfather, a conservative Calvinist farmer. As a boy, Bryant read the Bible, eighteenth-century English literature, and the English Romantic writers, particularly William Wordsworth. in addition, he studied and was influenced by the writings of William Shakespeare, John Milton, Sir Walter Scott, and the Scottish associationist philosophers Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart. These philosophers supported the notion that the world should be viewed through the lens of common sense as opposed to abstract ideas about what is real.
His talent asserted itself quite early. He wrote and was published while still a child; under his father’s tutelage, he had learned to write carefully and to revise well. With the publication of The Embargo; or, Sketches of the Times; A Satire; by a Youth of Thirteen (1808) William Cullen Bryant began his remarkable career as an important figure in American politics, literature, and journalism. The poem drew much attention from critics who doubted it had actually been written by one so young. Bryant s first writing captured the nation s imagination, and American readers continued to view Bryant as a political commentator for the rest of his life.
William Cullen Bryant, on the other hand, lived in a rapidly expanding young nation that cherished the vast amounts of untouched nature and he used death to illustrate how man fits into the universal truth of the earth....
In 1810, Bryant studied at Williams College, but he returned home because of financial difficulties. In 1811 he wrote his first major work of poetry, ”Thanatopsis, which was eventually published in 1817. Poetry was Bryant’s first choice for a career, but he knew that the vocation as a poet would not support him. in 1815 he was admitted to the bar and started his law practice in Plainfeld, Massachusetts. He married Frances Fairchild in 1821 and continued to practice law and publish poetry until 1825.