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1 [263] American, English, or continental, seem to have touched him at all.1

More obvious to the registrar of parallels are Bryant's literary relations to the poets he read, and read evidently with deeper susceptibility than has been realized, before 1811.2 The reference is not alone to the well-known relation Thanatopsis bears to Blair's Grave, Porteus's Death,3 Kirke White's Time, Rosemary, etc., and the whole Undertaker's Anthology so infinitely beneath the Lucretian grandeur of America's first great poem with its vision of

Dead men whose bones earth bosomed long ago.

The reference is equally to certain themes and moods and unclassified details in poems written long after Thanatopsis, all of which, though so characteristically Bryant's, make us feel him as much closer to the eighteenth century tradition than any of his contemporaries, even than Holmes with his deference to “the steel-bright epigrams of Pope” ; so that we may appraise him much better by going forward from the moralizing, “nature” blank verse of Thomson, Cowper, Young, and Akenside, than backward from Wordsworth and Tennyson. In the eighteenth century tradition is the very preference for blank verse as the instrument for large and serious thought, and the lifelong preference itself for large and serious thought on Death, History, Destiny. The Biblical note too is of the former age. But the diction is, if anything, freer than the mature Wordsworth himself from eighteenth century poetic slang, and the peculiarities of this blank verse (to be mentioned later) have fewer cadences suggestive of Cowper than, perhaps, of the early poems of Southey, whose impression on those impressionable first years of Bryant's has apparently been overlooked.4 With this early romanticism we may connect the sentimental element in the appeal of innocent and happy savages, whether

2 Tennysonian blank-verse in Sella has been suggested-unconvincingly.

3 See Autobiographical Fragment for a partial list.

4 Winner of the Seaton Prize at Cambridge for 1759. Death may be found in Musae Seatonianae, Cambridge, 1808-a copy of which was apparently in Doctor Bryant's library.

5 Compare Southey's Inscriptions (themselves imitated from Akenside), especially In a forest, with Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood.

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