The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1

By William Cullen Bryant II; Thomas G. Voss et al. | Go to book overview
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mean time here is something for your next. 2 I hope to send you soon a more ample supply.

Yrs truly
W C BRYANT

MANUSCRIPT: HEHL ADDRESS: Theophilus Parsons Esq. / Taunton / Mass. POSTMARK (in script): Sheffield Jan 1 POSTAL ANNOTATION: 18.

1.
Parsons had written on December 18 enclosing the check and thanking Bryant for the "promptitude and regularity" with which he had submitted his "beautiful poems," for which he hoped the USLG's success would soon bring the poet "compensation more adequate to the value of your aid." NYPL-BG.
2.
Bryant enclosed "Hymm to the North Star," USLG, 1 ( January 15, 1825), 298. See Poems ( 1876), pp. 105-107. Manuscript in HEHL.

116. To Sarah L. Howe1

Great Barrington Jan. 10 1825.

Madam.--

I received your obliging note by Mr. Ives, 2 and avail myself of this opportunity to express my thanks for the kindness that dictates the suggestion it contains.

I think, with you that the subject you mention would afford a happy opportunity for a writer of talents, and that few public occasions of the kind would admit of allusions to the history of the past that might be introduced with such striking effect.

I have however always hitherto wholly abstained from coming upon the arena with those who write poetical Addresses for prizes. Along with perhaps a respectable competitor or two, one approaches the tribunal who are to decide upon his production, to have his merits weighed against those of a swarm of rhymsters and poetasters, the most miserable of the tuneful tribe. In such a contest a defeat would be intolerably shameful, and a victory inglorious. Besides, although the poem may be the best that is offered, there is no certainty that it will be pronounced such by those who are appointed to settle its merits--and then it will figure in a volume of Rejected Addresses. Such is the diversity of tastes, that a poem offered to the public in the usual manner, if it has any excellences will be sure of finding somebody to acknowledge and admire them. The very same work submitted at first to the judgment of two or three literary men might be decidedly condemned or at least placed below one of inferior value. Whether these considerations have kept first rate poets from writing for prizes, or whether the anxiety of competition neutralizes their enthusiasm when they write, is more than I know--but all the prize poems I have ever read are second rate--very elaborate and very frigid. 3

My respect for your opinion has however led me to suspect that there is not quite so much in all this as I am apt to think. I had even almost

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