History of American Poetry

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At its beginning, American poetry was extremely influenced by its European roots. This is evidenced by the fact that the first colonists were English, who also brought along their poetic styles and patterns. These European traits set the standard for the genesis of American poetry, which will later we further developed and adapted by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, who are now considered to be the first great American poets. Because of the strong ties to European poetry, American poets wanted to distinguish themselves from their origins and began their crusade to build a new foundation for American poetry. Therefore, the “19th century began with high hopes for poetic accomplishment. The first comprehensive anthologies of American poetry appeared in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. In the first half of the century poets sought to entertain, to inform, and to put into memorable language America’s history, myths, manners, and topography, but they did not seek to forge a radical new poetic tradition. Their poetry built upon tradition, and they met the first great goal of American poetry: that it be able to compete in quality, intelligence, and breadth with British poetry. But just as they achieved this goal, poetic aspirations began to change. By the mid-19th century the new goal for American poetry was to create something very different from British poetry.” ( Stephen Crane’s poems (Behold, the grave of a wicked man, I saw a man pursuing the horizon, A Man Said
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