The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.

V. Bryant and the Minor Poets

§ 18. James Kirke Paulding

The other minor poets about Bryant lived in or near New York. James Kirke Paulding, humorist and proseman of no mean reputation, and collaborator with Bryant in prose stories, deserves mention here as an early representative of a conscious movement to make poetry out of American materials, convinced that

  • Thrice happy he who first shall strike the lyre,
  • With homebred feeling, and with homebred fire.
  • The Backwoodsman (1818), from which this conventional couplet is taken, recounts, without much plot, in sturdy heroics more like Crabbe’s realism than Goldsmith’s idyllic sentiment, the rugged life and wild surroundings of a frontiersman and his family. It is an honest document, if not distinguished literature.