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Yesterday I talked about two major influences for Indiana poet laureate Arthur F. Mapes: fellow Hoosier James Whitcomb Riley and John Greenleaf Whittier.

Two more today: William Cullen Bryant and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I wasn’t familiar with Bryant before I began researching this post. Fortunately, the Poetry Foundation offers a good primer, including this poem, which beautifully expresses the inner drive of an artist:

“I Broke the Spell That Held Me Long”
By William Cullen Bryant

I broke the spell that held me long,
The dear, dear witchery of song.
I said, the poet’s idle lore
Shall waste my prime of years no more,
For Poetry, though heavenly born,
Consorts with poverty and scorn.

I broke the spell–nor deemed its power
Could fetter me another hour.
Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget
Its causes were around me yet?
For wheresoe’er I looked, the while,
Was Nature’s everlasting smile.

Still came and lingered on my sight
Of flowers and streams the bloom and light,
And glory of the stars and sun; –
And these and poetry are one.
They, ere the world had held me long,
Recalled me to the love of song.

I already referenced Longfellow on this blog once, as another poet who admired the natural beauty of Michigan’s upper peninsula. He needs no introduction to most people who have studied poetry, but if his name doesn’t ring a bell, surely this will:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere

Of course, there was much more to Longfellow than the landlord’s tale (of a ride taken 237 years ago yesterday, incidentally), and Harvard has an interesting retrospective for those who are interested in learning more about the man and his work.

Class dismissed! For now…

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