previous next

“ [152] age of intolerance,” there is still question as to whether it was actually published in the author's lifetime and, consequently, whether Folger ran any risk. The most important piece of historical verse in this period was the work of the first native-born American poet, Benjamin Tompson (1644-1714), who, as his tombstone at Roxbury informs us, was a “learned schoolmaster and physician and the renowned poet of New England,” and is “mortuus sed immortalis.” His chief production, New England's Crises, is a formal attempt at an epic on King Philip's War. The prologue pictures early society in New England and recounts the decadence in manners and morals that has brought about the crisis,--the war as God's punishment. The six hundred and fifty lines of pentameter couplets are somewhat more polished than those of the poet's contemporaries, and might suggest the influence of Dryden if there were any external reason for supposing that the Restoration poets gained admission to early New England. Tompson's classical allusions, part of his epic attempt, are in amusing contrast to his rugged and homely diction, but his poem as a whole has at least the virtue of simplicity, and is interesting as the first of a long line of narratives in verse which recount the events of the wars fought on American soil.

A Brief Account of the Agency of the Honorable John Winthrop [in obtaining a charter for Connecticut], though not published until 1725, belongs in purpose and style to the seventeenth century. The author, Roger Wolcott, afterwards governor of Connecticut, was little more of a poet than Governor Bradford, but his literary pretensions ally him with Benjamin Tompson. His couplets are rugged and his diction prosaic, in the main, but the heroic style of the battle scenes and the lofty similes employed by the hero as he recounts to Charles II the settlement and the history of the Colony, show that Wolcott too was consciously attempting an epic. His poem is a link between the unliterary historical and descriptive verse of early New England and the more pretentious epics that appeared so abundantly during the latter half of the eighteenth century.

The most characteristic poetic products of early New England are the memorial poems. Subsequent generations have made merry over their matter and style, and indeed little

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
New England (United States) (6)
Connecticut (Connecticut, United States) (2)
Roxbury, Mass. (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Benjamin Tompson (3)
Roger Wolcott (2)
Peter Folger (1)
Dryden (1)
William Bradford (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1725 AD (1)
1714 AD (1)
1644 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: