New England’s Rhyming Wordsmiths

By Carla Charter

Many people can string together words. However, there are those special people, Poets, who can put words together and make them sing and soar. Their words, are well known and quoted even years and centuries after they are first put to paper.  New England has made important contributions to our country’s poetic history. So, in honor of National Poetry Month, below are six uniquely New England Poets and places where their unique stories remain preserved to this day.

 

Emily Dickinson

“There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons –

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes –“

 

Emily Dickinson was known as the Belle of Amherst. She spent her whole life in Amherst and much of her poetry was not published until after her death by her cousin Lavinia. Determined to have the poems published Lavinia finally succeeded in 1890, four years after the poet’s death.

The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst preserves Dickinson’s legacy at The Homestead, the birthplace and home of Dickinson. The Evergreens, next door was the home of her brother Austin, his wife Susan and their three children also belongs to the museum. More information on Dickinson and the museum can be found at www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org

 

 

 

Robert Frost

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

 

Robert Frost, although born in San Francisco, came to New England as a child with his Mother and younger sister Jeannie after their father, William Prescott Frost Jr., died of Tuberculosis.  Attending school in Massachusetts and living in both New Hampshire and Vermont Frost wrote iconic New England Poetry.

Fans of Robert Frost can visit the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, N.H.  where Frost and his family lived from 1900-1911 www.robertfrostfarm.org and the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Bennington, Vermont, www.bennington.edu/robert-frost-stone-house-museum, where Frost lived from 1920-1929 and where Frost wrote his famous poem “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” on a hot June morning in 1922 at his dining room table.

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Emerson an essayist and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement in the mid-19th century was born

in Boston and spent much of his life in Concord, Ma. He was friends with many other Concord transcendentalists including Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau.

Emerson’s homes in Concord can still be visited.  Emerson moved to what is now known as the Emerson House, with his wife Lidian, shortly after they were married. It was his first permanent home in Concord and where they raised their family. It is also where he wrote his essays, Nature and Self-Reliance. More information on the Emerson house, can be found at www.nps.gov/nr/travel/massachusetts_conservation/ralph_waldo_emerson_house.html

The Old Manse is also in Concord. It is where Emerson would draft his essay Nature in an upper room. Henry David Thoreau also spent time at the old manse. More information on the Old Manse can be found at http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/greater-boston/old-manse.html

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year. “

 

Longfellow was a poet who was born in Maine, when it was still part of Massachusetts. After graduating college and travelling abroad, his first book of poetry, ‘Voices of the Night’, was published in 1839 and his second book of poetry,’ Ballads and Other poems,’ which included his famous poems ‘The Village Blacksmith’ and ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ were included, was published in 1841.  In 1863, Longfellow published Tales of a Wayside Inn. The poems in the collection are told by a group of adults in the Tavern of the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Ma.

Those interested in Longfellow can visit his childhood home in Portland, Maine where three generations of his family lived. Many of the artifacts in the Museum are original to the Wadsworth and Longfellow families. More information on the Wadsworth-Longfellow House can be found at https://www.mainehistory.org/house_overview.shtml.

For more than 45 years Longfellow lived in what is now known as the Longfellow House Washington Headquarters in Cambridge, Ma. This home also served as the headquarters for General George Washington from July 1775-April 1776. More information on this house can be found at https://www.nps.gov/long/index.htm

Those who would like to visit the Wayside Inn, the oldest operating Inn in the United States can find more information at http://www.wayside.org/

 

Edgar Allen Poe

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.”

 

Although many may think of Poe as being a poet from Baltimore Maryland, he was actually born in Boston, Ma. His first work, Tamerlane and other works were also published in Boston in 1827.   Poe himself was not a fan of Beantown, writing in the Broadway Journal on Nov. 1, 1845: “We like Boston. We were born there-and perhaps its is just as well not to mention we are heartily ashamed of the fact. The Bostonians are very well in their way. Their hotels are bad. Their pumpkin pies are delicious. Their poetry is not so good. Their common is no common thing-and the duck pond might answer-if its answer could be heard for the frogs.”

A statue of Poe, complete with his famous Raven, can be seen at Boylston and Charles Street in Boston.

 

Theodore Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss

Every Who Down in Whoville Liked Christmas a lot…

But the Grinch,Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all,

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,

He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,

 

Dr. Seuss was born and raised in Springfield., Massachusetts. As a child, he actually did live near Mulberry Street which appeared in his book “To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.” Another Springfield inspiration may have come from trips with his father to the Forest Park Zoo in Springfield. These fond memories may have led to his book “If I Ran the Zoo.”

Seuss Fans who visit Springfield can visit the amazing world of Dr. Seuss museum www.seussinspringfield.org/amazing-world-dr-seuss-museum and can stop to visit the Seuss Sculpture Garden in Springfield. More information on the Forest Park Zoo which Geisel visited with his father can be found at www.forestparkzoo.org

 

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