Tag Archives: Poetry

Pound, Ezra

POUND, EZRA [LOOMIS] (1885-1972). Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho. As an expatriate living in Europe, Pound’s experiments with translation and poetic form resulted in his vivid translation of the eighth-century Anglo-Saxon poem “The Seafarer” (1911) and in the Continue reading & text links

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Poe, Edgar Allan

POE, EDGAR ALLAN (1809-1849). Edgar Allan Poe, best known for his tales of Gothic horror, was a writer of poetry, short and long fiction, an unfinished drama, criticism, literary theory, essays, and a “cosmological prose poem.” His more than seventy Continue reading & text links

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Plath, Sylvia

PLATH, SYLVIA (1932-1963). Sylvia Plath was born in Boston, and her family moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts, a seaside suburb, in 1936, where she lived until they moved inland to Wellesley in 1942. Her childhood by the Atlantic was significant in Continue reading & text links

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Percival, James Gates

PERCIVAL, JAMES GATES (1795-1856). Though he often mentioned the ocean in his poetry, James Gates Percival made little use of direct observation. As state geologist for Connecticut, he mapped the landforms along the Atlantic and Long Island Sound. But in Continue reading & text links

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Yang, Jeffrey

by Jaehyun Jeong (2015) YANG, JEFFREY (1974-) Jeffrey Yang is an American poet, translator, and editor best known for his books of poetry An Aquarium (2008) and Vanishing-Line (2011). Born in Escondido, California, Yang attended the University of California San Diego. With an initial interest Continue reading & text links

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Williams, William Carlos

WILLIAMS, WILLIAM CARLOS (1883-1963). Although modern poet, novelist, and essayist William Carlos Williams once said that all of his art came out of the work-yard of his lifelong home in Rutherford, New Jersey, where he practiced medicine, that is not Continue reading & text links

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Whittier, John Greenleaf

WHITTIER, JOHN GREENLEAF (1807-1892). A Quaker abolitionist and poet, John Greenleaf Whittier epitomizes the poet of rural life. With his New England contemporaries, however, he had little relish for straying far from the reach of the sea breeze. Sea motifs Continue reading & text links

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Whitman, Walt

WHITMAN, WALT[ER] (1819-1892). Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, near Huntington on northwestern Long Island. With almost two centuries of ancestral residence on the island and some seafaring tradition in his family, Whitman was naturally attuned to the ocean Continue reading & text links

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Walcott, Derek

WALCOTT, DEREK [ALTON] (1930-2017). Winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in literature, Derek Walcott identifies in his life and work two primary inspirations: the Caribbean Sea and his mixed-race heritage. Born and raised in the harbor city of Castries, St. Continue reading & text links

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Vukelich, George

VUKELICH, GEORGE (1927-1995). “[I]t was good to be on the Great Lakes,” wrote George Vukelich in 1955 to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal, after a spell as an ore boat deckhand. This sentiment pervades much of his work, including Continue reading & text links

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Updike, John

UPDIKE, JOHN [HOYER] (1932-2009). John Updike is the author of over fifteen novels and an impressive body of shorter fiction, poetry, and criticism, much of which has been published in The New Yorker. Born in Pennsylvania, he has lived on Continue reading & text links

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Thaxter, Celia Laighton

THAXTER, CELIA [LAIGHTON] (1835-1894). Celia Thaxter was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Thomas and Eliza Laighton, who moved to the Isles of Shoals, nine miles off the coast of New Hampshire, when Celia was five years old. They eventually Continue reading & text links

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Stoddard, Elizabeth

STODDARD, ELIZABETH [DREW BARSTOW] (1823-1902). Iconoclastic novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet, Elizabeth Stoddard was born in the coastal town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, the daughter of its foremost shipbuilder and maritime merchant. Both the fluctuations of her father’s maritime Continue reading & text links

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Stevens, Wallace

STEVENS, WALLACE (1879-1955). Wallace Stevens is one of the most influential American poets of the twentieth century, whose central concern is with the relationship of the human imagination and the world of physical reality. Stevens grew up in Pennsylvania and Continue reading & text links

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Snyder, Gary

SNYDER, GARY [SHERMAN] (1930- ). Born in San Francisco, Gary Snyder grew up among the forests, mountains, and shores of the Pacific Northwest. A graduate of Reed College (1951), Snyder first went to sea during the summer of 1948 and Continue reading & text links

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Simms, William Gilmore

SIMMS, WILLIAM GILMORE (1806-1870). William Gilmore Simms was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent most of his life. He was, with the exception of Edgar Allan Poe, the most significant author of the antebellum South. Beginning as a Continue reading & text links

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe

SCHOOLCRAFT, HENRY ROWE (1793-1864). Born in upstate New York, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was trained as a glassmaker. Like many Americans of his age, however, as a young man Schoolcraft went west, where his knowledge of mineralogy led eventually to his Continue reading & text links

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Sargent, Epes

SARGENT, EPES (1813-1880). A Boston newspaperman and son of a Gloucester sea captain, Epes Sargent is best remembered as the author of the lyrics of one of the best-known nautical songs of the nineteenth century. In addition to American Adventures Continue reading & text links

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Santayana, George

SANTAYANA, GEORGE [JORGE AUGUSTIN NICOLAS RUIZ DE] (1863-1962). The Spanish-born American idealist-philosopher George Santayana drew on his frequent Atlantic crossings in forming concepts of the world and himself. He also used shipboard experience when developing abstract argument and inventing the Continue reading & text links

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Sandburg, Carl

SANDBURG, CARL [AUGUST] (1878-1967). Carl Sandburg, poet, historian, journalist, novelist, labor organizer, folksinger, and collector of American dialect, was born to Swedish immigrant parents in Galesburg, Illinois. Sandburg early understood the beauty, power, and destructiveness of water. He experienced the Continue reading & text links

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Rich, Adrienne

RICH, ADRIENNE [CECILE] (1929-2012). The author of twenty books of poems and four prose works, Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore. “Diving into the Wreck” (1972), a poem frequently anthologized, contains her fullest, most dramatic reference to the sea. In Continue reading & text links

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Ratigan, William O.

RATIGAN, WILLIAM 0. (1910-1984). Born to a Great Lakes steamboat engineer in Detroit and later adopted by an Ottawa tribe chief, William Ratigan called Michigan his home. This Great Lakes historian’s writings celebrate ordinary Americans who made big names for Continue reading & text links

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Olson, Charles

OLSON, CHARLES [JOHN] (1910-1970). The poet Charles Olson was born and raised in the inland city of Worcester, Massachusetts, but the family always spent summers in the fishing port of Gloucester; widowed in 1935, his mother provided a permanent base Continue reading & text links

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Oliver, Mary

OLIVER, MARY (1935-2019). A popular and highly acclaimed American poet, recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mary Oliver composed numerous lyric poems set on coastal Cape Cod. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Oliver began writing poems Continue reading & text links

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Nemerov, Howard

NEMEROV, HOWARD [STANLEY] (1920-1991). Howard Nemerov was born in New York City and died in University City, Missouri. He served as a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force before joining the U.S. Air Force for the last two years Continue reading & text links

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Moore, Ruth

MOORE, RUTH (1903-1989). Ruth Moore was born on Gott’s Island, Maine, where she lived for thirteen years before moving to the mainland to continue her education. She graduated from New York State College for Teachers in 1925 but did not Continue reading & text links

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Moore, Marianne

MOORE, MARIANNE [CRAIG] (1887-1972). A member of the generation of poets that included T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore was highly regarded by her contemporaries for poetry that was metrically unique and that characteristically subjected Continue reading & text links

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Merwin, W.S.

MERWIN, W[ILLIAM]. S[TANLEY]. (1927-2019). Born in New York City and educated at Princeton University, W. S. Merwin has lived and worked in France, Portugal, Majorca, New York, and, in later years, Hawai’i. The author of four books of prose and Continue reading & text links

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Meredith, William

MEREDITH, WILLIAM [MORRIS] (1919-2007). With nine volumes of poetry to his credit, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems (1987) and the National Book Award-winning Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems (1997), William Meredith is also Continue reading & text links

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Lowell, Robert, Jr.

LOWELL, ROBERT, JR [TRAILL SPENCE]. (1917-1977). Robert Lowell, the son of a naval officer, recalled in the poem, “Commander Lowell: 1887-1950” (Life Studies, 1959) how his father, in his postnaval life, would boom “Anchors Aweigh” in the bathtub and would Continue reading & text links

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Lowell, James Russell

LOWELL, JAMES RUSSELL (1819-1891). James Russell Lowell, poet, literary and social critic, editor, abolitionist, scholar of comparative literature, Harvard professor, diplomat, and consummate traveler, frequently crossed the Atlantic to visit Britain and the Continent. On 12 July 1851, he sailed Continue reading & text links

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Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth

LONGFELLOW, HENRY WADSWORTH (1807-1882). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, at a time when that seaport was second in New England only to Boston in total tonnage engaged in maritime trade. Close to half a century later, in Continue reading & text links

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Lodge, George Cabot

LODGE, GEORGE CABOT (1873-1909). Son of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and acquaintance of Edith Wharton, Henry James, and his own biographer, Henry Adams, the poet and verse dramatist George Cabot Lodge was well acquainted with the sea. Growing up in Continue reading & text links

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Lindbergh, Anne Morrow

LINDBERGH, ANNE MORROW (1906-2001). Anne Morrow Lindbergh was born in 1906 in Englewood, New Jersey. Her father, Dwight Whitney Morrow, was ambassador to Mexico when Charles Lindbergh visited Mexico City in 1928, soon after he had completed his famous solo Continue reading & text links

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Lincoln, Joseph Crosby

LINCOLN, JOSEPH C[ROSBY]. (1870-1944). Joseph C. Lincoln, the descendant of a long line of a seafarers, was a prolific author of best-selling verses, stories, and novels that portrayed life along the shore of Cape Cod with nostalgia and humor. The Continue reading & text links

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Lieberman, Laurence

LIEBERMAN, LAURENCE [JAMES] (1935- ). Four years at the College of the Virgin Islands in the 1960s were critical years for poet Laurence Lieberman, for it was then that he discovered the Caribbean. Since those formative years, from his home Continue reading & text links

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Larcom, Lucy

LARCOM, LUCY (1824-1893). Lucy Larcom was a prolific and highly regarded writer of descriptive and religious verse, short fiction, and inspirational prose in the second half of the nineteenth century. Born on the Massachusetts North Shore in Beverly, she lived Continue reading & text links

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Jewett, Sarah Orne

JEWETT, SARAH ORNE (1849-1909). Sarah Orne Jewett was born and raised in South Berwick, Maine, a dwindling shipping and manufacturing center. As a girl she listened to her paternal grandfather’s tales of life as a sea captain, skirting the embargo Continue reading & text links

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Jeffers, Robinson

JEFFERS, [JOHN] ROBINSON (1887-1962). Robinson Jeffers, best known for his verse narratives set on California’s rugged northern coast, was born in Pennsylvania. In 1903 he moved with his family to Los Angeles and entered Occidental College, where he studied geology, Continue reading & text links

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Hughes, Langston

HUGHES, [JAMES MERCER] LANGSTON (1902-1967). Langston Hughes, the prolific African American writer whose work in multiple genres endeared him early in his career to the black American community and later to a broad, international readership, first prepared to set sail Continue reading & text links

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Howells, William Dean

HOWELLS, WILLIAM DEAN (1837-1920). A native of Ohio, William Dean Howells began to work in his father’s printing shop at age nine. A self-taught student of languages and literature, he early entered a career in journalism. After writing a campaign Continue reading & text links

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Holmes, Oliver Wendell

HOLMES, OLIVER WENDELL (1809-1894). Oliver Wendell Holmes, a writer and distinguished academic physician, spent his life around Boston. He was the social leader of a group of intellectual luminaries that included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Ralph Waldo Continue reading & text links

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Hine, Ephraim Curtiss

HINE, EPHRAIM CURTISS (1818?-1853). Sailor and author raised in Genoa, New York, Ephraim Curtiss Hine is best known today as the model for the nautical poet Lemsford in Herman Melville’s novel White-Jacket (1850). Melville, who was Hine’s shipmate on the Continue reading & text links

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Hayden, Robert

HAYDEN, ROBERT [EARL] (1913-1980). A long-neglected African American poet, Robert Hayden (born Asa Bundy Sheffey) climaxed his career with two successive terms as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress (1976-1978), the position now known as poet laureate. His Continue reading & text links

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Harte, Bret

HARTE, [FRANCIS] BRET[T] (1836-1902). Born in Albany, New York, Bret Harte rose to literary prominence as editor of the Overland Monthly (first pub. 1868), a San Francisco-based magazine of western lore. In this forum Harte produced his best sketches, stories, Continue reading & text links

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Harper, Michael S.

HARPER, MICHAEL S[TEVEN]. (1938-2016). Few of Michael S. Harper’s challenging poems draw upon the sea for either setting or theme, but when his strong interest in history intersected with even stronger feelings about racial justice, he infrequently employed sea imagery Continue reading & text links

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Green, Paul

GREEN, PAUL [ELIOT] (1894-1981). A prolific playwright and poet whose literary career spanned several decades and genres, Paul Green is remembered chiefly for his dramatizations of southern folklore and customs and the plight of the African American in particular, in Continue reading & text links

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Gardner, John

GARDNER, JOHN [CHAMPLIN] (1933-1982). The son of a dairy farmer, John Gardner had no important personal connection with the sea. Indeed, his maritime novella, The King’s Indian (1972, in a volume of the same name), a modern Ancient Mariner story Continue reading & text links

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Fuller, Margaret

FULLER, [SARAH] MARGARET (1810-1850). Born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, Margaret Fuller was the eldest of nine children. Her father, a lawyer and congressman, educated her at home, and under his demanding regimen she developed her remarkable intellectual gifts. She later taught Continue reading & text links

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Frost, Robert

FROST, ROBERT [LEE] (1874-1963). Though Robert Frost was not a nautical writer, he did treat the sea as a subject in several poems. Best known among these are “Once by the Pacific” (1926), “Neither Out Far nor in Deep” (1934), Continue reading & text links

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