William Cullen Bryant High School

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was a poet and editor born in Cummington, Massachusettes. He is known as one of the most celebrated figures of 19th-century America, as well as being the editor of the New York Evening Post for 50 years. Bryant's most notable work "Thanatopsis" was one of the most well known poems at the time. Bryant's childhood was a little unstable as his family fell into financial troubles not long after his birth. This forced the entire family to stay with his grandparents. His childhood was also a period of strict discipline and hard labor. Even though Bryant was bright and eager to learn, the school imposed a strict regimen and lessons were taught under threat of being hit by a long piece of wood called the "switch." However, Bryant was an inquisitive child who learned to stimulate his thoughts through nature.

Bryant drew inspiration from his father, Dr. Peter Bryant, an educated man with high ambitions and a desire to be a productive member of society beyond Cummington. Another major point of influence for Bryant was the development of the United States as a nation. Elite colleges began popping up within the United States, and Bryant's dad was determined to get his son the humanistic education he himself was denied. Bryant's first work commented on the Embargo Act of 1807 and his later works discussed the mortality of the Civil War. While writing his poems, Bryant studied and practiced law. However, in 1828, he left the law and to become a New York editor. As an American poet respected in Europe and an editor at the center of New York City’s cultural renaissance, Bryant's thoughts and opinions were highly sought after. He became one of the first American writers able to make enough profit from his writing to support himself and his family. Although in later years he lost much of his power as editor, Bryant was still a beloved and highly influential figure. No one could challenge his place as First Citizen of New York. Over the decades, he had been the prime advocate for a unified and uniformed police department, for the paving of the city streets, and led the way for creation of Central Park. He also fought for the establishment of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as an attribute of a great world city, and supported the right of labor to unionize. Bryant lived a long and prosperous life, contributing to greatly to American culture. He died in his 80s after suffering from a stroke.


"William Cullen Bryant," _Poetry Foundation, _accessed June 27, 2023** **https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/william-cullen-bryant

William Cullen Bryant, "Thanatopsis," Poetry Foundation, published 1817, accessed June 27, 2023, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/50465/thanatopsis