previous next


[171] to the welfare of the world, reviews the state of Europe in the middle ages, the voyages of discovery, conquests, and colonisation, and the war of the Revolution, with references to contemporary persons and events. He concludes with a prophecy of the future glories of America. This literary dragnet has drawn into itself nothing delicate or tender and little that is truly human, for such qualities are not compatible with its forced sublimity and its declamatory and gaudy rhetoric. To the worst vices of the conventional poetic diction, Barlow in a painful effort to achieve the grandiose, has added vile phrases of his own peculiar coinage. And yet, hidden away among these thousands of lines of lahoured rhetoric, are passages really fine and free in both conception and execution. Atlas, genius of Africa, prophesies to Hesper the ruin that must follow American slavery. In the chaos
His own bald eagle skims alone the sky,
Darts from all points of heaven her searching eye,
Kens thro the gloom her ancient rock of rest,
And finds her cavern'd crag, her solitary nest.

The most vigorous poems produced in America between 1765 and 1807 were the numberless satires that marked every stage of the fight with England and of the internal strife between Whigs and Tories and, later, between Republicans and Federalists. Hudibras, The Dunciad, The Rolliad, The Anti-Jacobin, and the satires of Churchill, of Gifford, and of “Peter Pindar” bred in America songs, mock-heroics, burlesques, and satires of direct attack, in lyric measures, heroic couplets, and octosyllabics.

American political satire began with the Stamp Act. The Times (1765) by the Rev. Benjamin Church of Boston, which vigorously defends the colonists, imitates Churchill, who for four years had been famous in England as the most relentless satirist of the day, and is doubly interesting in that its author later changed his attitude and was expelled from Boston as a traitor. The Boston Port Bill evoked from John Trumbull an Elegy on the times (1775), which uses the elegiac quatrains of Gray for satiric invective; but far more important is the same author's McFingal, the most effective satire of its time. Trumbull

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.
United States (United States) (3)
Europe (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

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.
John Trumbull (2)
Churchill (2)
Peter Pindar (1)
Thomas Gray (1)
William Gifford (1)
Park Benjamin (1)
Joel Barlow (1)
Atlas (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.
1765 AD (2)
1807 AD (1)
1775 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: