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Essay about Emerson as a Poet

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The American literature of the nineteenth century is characterised by a spirit of Romanticism. The years, from 1828 to 1865, from the Jacksosian era to the Civil War is called "the American Romantic Period." It was the era of the blossoming of a "distinctively American literature" (Abrams, page 206). Also known as the American Renaissance, this period was marked by eminent writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The age produced works of originality and excellence in all literary genres (except drama) not exceeded in quality by later American literature. This epoch in the history of American literature is also referred to as "the Age of Transcendentalism", after the literary and philosophical movement in New England, which revolved around the "most distinguished of the New England Transcendentalists"( Gerber, page 380)- Ralph Waldo Emerson. Apart from being a central exponent of Transcendentalism, Emerson was one of the most brilliant poets and thinkers of the nineteenth century America.

Edgar Allan Poe, John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman were the prominent poets of the American Romantic Age. Emerson attitude to life and art was formed mainly from his readings of a variety of philosophical and religious texts. The major influences upon him were the religious thought of New England and related English works, Scottish realism, French and English skepticism, Neo-Platonism as interpreted by the English romantic poets and the German and French idealists, Oriental mystical writings and Yankee pragmatism. The English poets like Milton, Herbert and Donne influenced his use of words and symbols. These poets h...


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... made his poetry less popular than his essays. He is regarded as one of the emancipators of modern poetry and as a forerunner to great poets like Whitman and Dickinson. His poetry is highly valued for its simplicity and vigour of diction, use of concrete symbols and visual images, inherent rhythm, philosophical content and spiritual value.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abel, Darrel. American Literature :Literature of the Atlantic Culture. New York:

Barron's, 1963.

Compton-Rickett, A. A History of English Literature. London: Thomas Nelson

and Sons Ltd, 1947.

Gerber, John C. "Emerson." Novelists and Prose Writers : Great Writers Of the English

Language . Ed. James Winson. London : Macmillan, 1979.

Spiller, Robert E., et al., eds. Literary History of the United States: History. New Delhi:

Amerind, 1946.



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