William Cullen Bryant was born in Cummington, Massachusetts on November 3, 1794. His home in Cummington was surrounded by brooks, rivers, rocky hills, and woods. Bryants mother was Sarah Snell Bryant. His father, Doctor Peter Bryant, was a strict Calvinist who loved poetry, music, and was also one of the strongest men in the countryside. As a child, Bryant was sickly, but his fathers training turned him into a husky boy. Bryant attended the district schools until he was twelve. Then, he studied Greek and Latin. In 1810, Bryant spent a year at Williams College. In 1811, Bryant began to study law, and in 1815 he was admitted to the bar. After some private study, he practiced law in Barrington, Massachusetts. Poetry wasnt a practical occupation for Bryant, so he continued working as a lawyer and a justice of the peace in Massachusetts until he moved to New York City in 1825. Considered a child-prodigy, Bryant published his first poem at age ten and his first book at age thirteen. All of Bryants early poetry was published in the early nineteenth century, and he found his subject in the American landscape, especially that of New England. Bryants first draft of Thanatopsis, an elegy, was written between 1813 and 1814, when Bryant was seventeen years old. Other early poems include To Waterfowl, Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood, and The Yellow Violet, which were all written before he was twenty-one. A few years after Bryant wrote Thanatopsis and To a Waterfowl, Doctor Peter Bryant found them in a desk and sent them to The North American Review. Bryants father helped to publish Bryants first book, Embargo. Most materials published between 1818-1825 were previously written poems now submitted, since Bryant was known for editing his work for quite some time before submissions. Thanatopsis first appeared in The North American Review …
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