John Greenleaf Whittier



John Greenleaf Whittier is buried in the Union Cemetery, Amesbury, Massachusetts, USA.

Grave of John Greenleaf Whittier

Whittier was born near Haverhill in Massachusetts - the son of Quaker parents.

During his teens he began to write poetry - inspired by the work of Robert Burns. His first two collections Legends of New England in Prose and Verse (1831) and Moll Pitcher (1932) dealt with pre-industrial village life and were well received by the public.

However, Whittier was also a fierce anti-slavery campaigner. In 1833 he wrote an abolitionist pamphlet entitled: Justice and Expediency and later published a collection entitled Voices of Freedom containing a number of poems. In 1842 he ran for Congress and was a founder member of the Republican Party.

Although a contemporary of Walt Whitman, Whittier did not experiment with free verse but continued to write  using conventional rhyme and meter patterns.

After the Civil War, Whittier turned away from politics to concentrate on poetry. His output was prolific - managing a collection every two years or so. Much of his poetry evoked his idyllic rural childhood - e.g. Snow-Bound which recalled winters in his family's  oak-built  farmhouse.

His other popular poems  include: The Barefoot Boy, Skipper Ireson's Ride and Barbara Frietchie.

In his day, Whittier's popularity was only   surpassed by that of Longfellow.

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

from Barbara Frietchie






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