The Great Love in the Life of Emily Dickinson

For many years one of the most fascinating mysteries of American literature has been the personal Iife of Emily Dickinson. Of no other major American poet lias there been so little positive information. Thus far, indeed, there has not even been a wholly reliable text of her works, and the question of the great love-interest of her life and its connection with her poems lias remained a romantic enigma. In 1950 Harvard University became the owner of the Dickinson papers and pnl its collection in charge of Thomas H.

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Songs From The Yard: Sing Sing’s Lost Poet

During the spring of 1825 a handful of prisoners were landed on the shore of the Hudson River at Mt. Pleasant to begin construction of a new penitentiary. For six months they toiled under the wary eyes and ready muskets of their keepers, sleeping in tents and lean-tos. On November 26, the first convicts were safely locked up in the cells of what was to become known as Sing Sing prison. Read more »

A Summer’s Wait

A young poet’s memories of the old rural America in whose fields he worked for two sunny months while awaiting the call to service in the First World War

Mark Van Doren, who died in 1972, was one of America’s most distinguished poets, critics, and educators. He was born on a farm at Hope, Illinois, in 1894, and upon graduation from the University of Illinois in 1914 went to Columbia University (where he later was to teach literature for many years) to pursue graduate study. In the spring of 1917, with America finally involved in the Great War, he returned to his family home in Urbana, Illinois, and registered for the draft.Read more »

The Sinister Corps Of William O. Bourne

There were 281,881 Union fighting men wounded in the Civil War, and, while figures from the Confederate side are sketchy, we can safely assume that the number was at least half that. Of such men, many thousands of right-handed individuals lost their right arms—a minor footnote, perhaps, but not for men forced to alter the functional patterns of a lifetime. Read more »

Twain, The Patent Poet

Mark Twain, surely the most American of great American writers, was, like the country itself, a creature of stupendous contradictions—gentle and tender at any given moment, and in the next possessed of rages so intense they could rattle the bones and shrivel the mind of anyone at whom they were directed; almost hysterically prudish when his wife and daughters were concerned, yet driven time and again to exercises (though not for publication) that were both prurient and scatalogical; contemptuous of money and headlong in pRead more »

Paul Revere

The Man, the Myth, and the Midnight Ride

A hurry of hoofs in a village street, A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, And beneath, from the pebbles, inpassing, a spark Struck out by a steed fying fearless and fleet; That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light The fate of a nation was riding that night.Read more »

Lincoln As Poet

In the fall of 1844 a thirty-five-year-old lawyer from Springfield, Illinois, returned after an absence of nearly fifteen years to Spencer County, Indiana, to campaign in behalf of Presidential candidate Henry Clay. He had lived in the county—in the Pigeon Creek neighborhood—from the time he was almost nine years old until he was twenty-one, years of his life that later became legendary when the gangly, rustic youth himself became President of the United States. His mother and only sister were buried there.Read more »

A Visit From St. Nicholas

Illustrated with late-nineteenth-century magic-lantern slides Together with a brief inquiry into a Christmas mystery

’T was the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; Read more »

That Wonderful One-hoss Shay

Oliver Wendell Holmes, father of the famous Supreme Court justice, was not only a renowned professor of anatomy at Harvard but by popular acclaim the genial poet laureate of Boston, which he preferred to call “the hub of the solar system.” Despite his usual good humor, Holmes was an aggressive Unitarian and spent much time assaulting the Puritan theology of his forebears.Read more »

Spoon River Revisited

An artist recalls his Midwestern home town and the poet who made it famous

I always felt at home in Edgar Lee Master᾿s quarters in the Chelsea Hotel. It was all so much like a Petersburg, Illinois, law office that I might have been back in Papa Smoot’s office overlooking the courthouse square. Edgar Lee, plain and short and stocky, sat in a straight chair near a big desk. there was the same smell of books and tobacco. The same southern light filtered through the braches of the ailanthus trees, and the court behind the Chelsea was almost as quiet as the empty Petersburg square with its big elms.Read more »