Ages" in what one listener recalled later as a quiet, monotonous delivery demanding
close attention, he was warmly applauded. Another auditor reported that the poem
was "generally considered the finest that had ever been spoken before the Phi Beta
Kappa Society." On the other hand, periodical notices were either perfunctory or ill
informed. The Galaxy for August 31 called Bryant's carefully wrought Spenserians
"blank verse"; the Columbian Centinel found them, surprisingly, "replete . . . with
patriotic sentiments." Life, I, 174-175; Rusk, Emerson, p. 87; "Youth," pp. 262-263. Richard Dana's reassuring letter of November 4, 1821, struck a balance: "You must
not think that there are but two or three to relish your longest poem. I've heard a
good many out of those I know express themselves in quite warm praise, for Americans, about it." MHS.
73. To Messrs. Hilliard and Metcalf1
Boston--Sept 4th 1821.--
I have made Willard Phillips Esq. of Boston my agent to superintend
the publication and sale of my poems which are now in your press.
will therefore observe his directions, concerning the work, and deliver
to him or to such persons as he shall order the whole impression or any
number of copies.
WILLIAM C. BRYANT.
MANUSCRIPT: MHS ADDRESS: Messrs. Hilliard: & Metcalf / Boston / Massachusetts.
Publishers of the NAR, as well as of
Bryant Poems ( 1821).
Bryant makes it dear that his slim volume of eight poems was submitted to a
publisher only five days after his Harvard recitation, and before he left for home. This
suggests that he had brought with him from Great Barrington revised versions of "Thanatopsis" (with introduction and conclusion added) and "Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood," had made minor changes in "To a Waterfowl" and "Translation
of a Fragment of Simonides"-all first published in the NAR--and, adding "Green
River" from The Idle Man and "The Yellow Violet," which Channing still held unpublished, had rounded out his little collection with "The Ages'' and a "Song," later
entitled "The Hunter of the West," also previously unpublished.
74. To Richard H. Dana
Great Barrington Sept. 15th. 1821.
My dear Sir
Yours of the 8th. I received day before yesterday, and today the copy
of my poems. I am definitely obliged to you for the trouble you have
taken with them--and submit as quickly as you could wish to your restoration of the altered passages. As to the pale realms of shade, I have
not a word to say in its defense. I dislike it as much as you can, and I had a
secret misgiving of heart when I wrote it.
1 I am now engaged with all my
might in reviewing your book [ The Idle Man] and will send on the fruit
of my labours soon. I sent a communication concerning the Idle Man to