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A Short Biographical Sketch of JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER (1807 to 1892)

by John W. Cousin

WHITTIER, JOHN GREENLEAF (1807-1892). —Poet, was b. at Haverhill, Massachusetts, of a Quaker family. In early life he worked on a farm. His later years were occupied partly in journalism, partly in farming, and he seems also to have done a good deal of local political work. He began to write verse at a very early age, and continued to do so until almost his latest days. He was always a champion of the anti-slavery cause, and by his writings both as journalist and poet, did much to stimulate national feeling in the direction of freedom. Among his poetical works are Voices of Freedom (1836), Songs of Labour (1851), Home Ballads (1859), In War Time (1863), Snow Bound (1866), The Tent on the Beach (1867),Ballads of New England (1870), The Pennsylvania Pilgrim (1874). W. had true feeling and was animated by high ideals. Influenced in early life by the poems of Burns, he became a poet of nature, with which his early upbringing brought him into close and sympathetic contact; he was also a poet of faith and the ideal life and of liberty. He, however, lacked concentration and intensity, and his want of early education made him often loose in expression and faulty in form; and probably a comparatively small portion of what he wrote will live.