The life and works of William Cullen Bryant
The poetry of the Old Testament is of such incomparable
grandeur and beauty that the imagination of a child can not
be more powerfully expanded than by rendering it into his
own words. But the father, influenced by the literary spirit
of his age, was more inclined to the classic models, and, when
the boy, in November, 1808, went to Brookfield to begin his
preparations for college, it was earnestly enjoined upon him
to convert into English verse the passages of the JEneid and
other books that he might take up. The father s letter to
this effect we have not, but here is the boy s reply :
& quot;BROOKFIELD, April 4, 1809.
& quot;RESPECTED FATHER: You will doubtless find in the enclosed
lines much that needs emendation and much that characterizes the
crude efforts of puerility. They have received some correction from
my hands, but you are sensible that the partiality of an author for his
own compositions, and an immature judgment, may have prevented
me from perceiving the most of its defects, however prominent. I
will endeavor, to the utmost of my ability, to follow the excellent
instructions which you gave me in your last. I have now proceeded
in my studies as far as the Seventh Book of the ^Eneid.
& quot; The Federal party here is now strengthened by the addition of
a considerable number. The family are still favored with their usual
degree of health. But I must conclude.
& quot; Your dutiful son,
& quot;W. C. B. & quot;
The poems enclosed were two (not one, as it is said in the
Autobiography), and they hardly seem to deserve the severity
of criticism applied to them by both father and son. They
are too long for admission here, but an extract from one of
them will not, perhaps, be out of place as a note.* It is the
description of a storm, Book I, 1. 19.
* & quot; Eolus spake, and with a godlike might
Impelled his spear against the mountain s height.
Straight the freed winds forsake their rocky cell,
And o er the earth in furious whirlwinds swell.