American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century: A Library of America Boxed Set

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American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century: A Library of America Boxed Set

John Hollander (1929-2013), editor, was a distinguished poet, critic, and teacher whose many collections included The Night Mirror (1971), Reflections on Espionage (1976), Spectral Emanations (1978), and Powers of Thirteen (1983). He was a MacArthur Fellow and was awarded the Bollingen Prize in 1983. He also edited two volumes in the Library of America’s American Poets Project series: American Wits: An Anthology of Light Verse (2003) and Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems (2005).

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In nineteenth-century America, poetry was, part of everyday life, as familiar as a hymn, a love song, a patriotic exhortation. American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century reveals the vigor and diversity of a tradition embracing solitary visionaries and congenial storytellers, humorists and dissidents, songwriters and philosophers. These two volumes reassess America’s poetic legacy with a comprehensive sweep that no previous anthology has attempted. This second volume follows the evolution of American poetry from the monumental mid-century achievements of Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson to the modernist stirrings of Stephen Crane and Edwin Arlington Robinson. The cataclysm of the Civil War – reflected in fervent antislavery protests, in marching songs and poetic calls to arms, and in muted postbellum expressions of grief and reconciliation – ushered in a period of accelerating change and widening regional perspectives. Among the unfamiliar pleasures to be savored in this volume are the penetrating meditations of the reclusive Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, the eloquent lyricism of Emma Lazarus, the mournful, superbly crafted fin de siecle verse of Trumbull Stickney. Here too are the pioneering African-American poets (Frances Harper, Albery Allson Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar); popular humorists (James Whitcomb Riley, Eugene Field); writers embodying America’s newfound cosmopolitanism (Edith Wharton, George Santayana); and extravagant self-mythologizing figures who could have existed nowhere else, like the actress Adah Isaacs Menken and the frontier poet Joaquin Miller. Parodies, dialect poems, song lyrics, and children’s verse evoke the liveliness of an era when poetry was accessible toall. Here are poems that played a crucial role in American public life, whether to arouse the national conscience (Edwin Markham’s “The Man with the Hoe”) or to memorialize the golden age of the national pastime (Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat”). An entire section of this volume is devoted to American Indian poetry in nineteenth-century versions, making available – some for the first time since their initial publication – an astonishing range of translations and adaptations: Ojibwa healing rituals, the songs of the Ghost Dance religion, Zuni mythological narratives, chants from the Kwakiutl Winter Ceremonial. Also included is a generous selection from America’s rich heritage of anonymous folk songs, ballads, and hymns. Unprecedented in its textual authority, the anthology includes newly researched biographical sketches of each poet, a year-by-year chronology of poets and poetry from 1800 to 1900, and extensive notes.

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There is simply nothing else like it in print. — Helen Vendler

Publisher Marketing:

At last in a deluxe collector’s edition boxed set, the most complete and authoritative anthology of 19th century American poetry ever published

From the lyrics of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to folk ballads and moving spirituals, one of our nation’s greatest cultural legacies is the distinctly American poetry that arose during the nineteenth century. Unprecedented in its comprehensive sweep and textual authority, and now presented for the first time in a deluxe two-volume boxed set, the Library of America’s acclaimed anthology American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century reveals for the first time the full beauty and diversity of that tradition. The century’s greatest poets are here in generous selections: Dickinson, Poe, Emerson, Melville, and Whitman. Alongside are the now-undervalued achievements of Whittier, Longfellow, Bryant, Lowell, and Holmes, as well as poems just finding full recognition: mystical sonnets by Jones Very, the Romantic fantasias of Maria Gowen Brooks, the modernist stirrings of Stephen Crane. Also here are American Indian poetry in nineteenth-century versions, a rich gathering of anonymous folk songs, and popular spirituals and hymns, like Battle Hymn of the Republic and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. The anthology includes a newly researched biographical sketch of each poet and a year-by-year chronology of poets and poems from 1800 to 1900.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

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