HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Poems: Arlington Edition
Author: John Greenleaf Whittier
Publisher: Hurst & Co., Publishers, 1888
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Whittier, John Greenleaf. Poems: Arlington Edition (published in 1888 by Hurst and Company Publishers, 134-136 Grand St., New York City, NY). John Greenleaf Whittier was born on Dec. 17, 1807, at East Haverhill in the Merrimac Valley area of rural Massachussets. The son of poor Quaker parents, he worked on his family’s farm until he was twenty, with his early education through the middle grades at the local village school where his teacher fired his interest in poetry at age fourteen by lending him a copy of poems by Robert Burns. After his sister sent a poem of his to the weekly Free Press at Newburyport, he attracted the attention of the publisher, William Lloyd Garrison, who convinced his father to send him to Haverhill Academy for two years, although young William had to work as a shoemaker to pay the bill. With this education, he followed a career in journalism beginning in 1829 and worked in cities such as Boston, MA, Hartford, CN, and Washington, DC. Following the publication of his first book, Legends of New England, in 1831, he became editor in 1836 of the Pennsylvania Freeman, an anti-slavery newspaper of Philadelphia, PA, where he was hunted by a mob and stoned, and as an ardent abolitionist, employed his pen against slavery. He died in 1892.
One of Whittier’s most famous works is Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl, which is a long narrative epic first published in 1866 as a book-length poem. I have previously reviewed it. This Arlington Edition is evidently a collection of some of the early poems of Whittier. It does NOT include some of his better-known later works from which several hymns have been taken. These hymns include “O Brother Man,” taken from “Worship,” a poem of fifteen stanzas to contrast the excesses and carnalities of pagan worship with what Whittier considered to be the essential duty of man, penned in 1847 and 1848 and first published in his 1850 Labor and Other Poems; “Immortal Love, Forever Full” and “We May Not Climb The Heavenly Steeps,” taken from “Our Master” written in 1866 and first published in his Tent on the Beach and Other Poems in 1867; and “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,” taken from the final portion of his seventeen stanza poem, “The Brewing of Soma,” which was first published in The Atlantic Magazine of Apr., 1872. Whittier is an author whose poetry is worth reading.