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James Russell Lowell in 1863 The poet who recited his ode at the Harvard Commemoration looked thus on that memorable occasion. He was born in 1819 at Cambridge, Massachusetts, of a long line of eminent New Englanders. In Harvard he was poet of his class. During the Mexican War he won immense popularity by his series of satirical poems in Yankee dialect, collected in 1848 as The Biglow papers. In 1855 he was appointed to succeed Longfellow in the Smith Professorship of Modern Languages. The additional distinction he had gained as editor of The Atlantic Monthly and later of The North American review made him the logical poet at the commemoration service held by Harvard University on July 21, 1865, for its students and graduates who had perished in the war. His ode, not very enthusiastically received that day, has made him the foremost poet of American patriotism. His later life was filled with varied activities. From 1877 to 1885 he represented this country at Madrid and London. He continued to publish poetry and prose that made him at his death in 1891 the most eminent man of letters in America.

 

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