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About this Item

Title: The New Era

Creator: Wendy J. Katz

Publication information: Excerpted and adapted from Wendy J. Katz, "A Newly Discovered Whitman Poem About William Cullen Bryant," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 32 (2014), 69–76.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00351

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kenneth M. Price, Wendy Katz, and Susan Belasco


In the June 23, 1842, issue of the penny newspaper New Era, Parke Godwin, who had married the daughter of New York Evening Post editor William Cullen Bryant earlier in that year and had been working as an editor at the Post, announced that he was taking over the New Era as editor and would turn the daily in the direction of greater coverage of literature and the arts as well as the usual politics, commerce, and other fare. Godwin had initially planned to start a morning Democratic paper, the New York Morning Post, but instead bought the New Era with $6000 given to him by Bryant. The investment was not successful—it was very difficult to establish a cheap Democratic paper in this period—and the New Era apparently issued its last paper in August of 1842. Godwin would go on to start an equally short lived weekly called the Pathfinder in early 1843, before returning to work at the Evening Post. During the brief time Godwin was editor of the New Era, however, a poem by Walt Whitman entitled "To Bryant, the Poet of Nature" appeared on July 26, 1842, identified as written "For the New Era." Like Whitman's other early poetry, its theme and style does not point in any direct way toward his achievements in Leaves of Grass, but, in addition to contributing to our understanding of his thinking about Bryant, it demonstrates how his poetry—like his prose—was embedded in and even at times resistant to prevailing Democratic aesthetics.

Bibliography

Gilbert H. Muller, William Cullen Bryant: Author of America (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008).

Louis Hewitt Fox, New York City Newspapers, 1820–1850, a Bibliography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1928).

Poems

"To Bryant, the Poet of Nature," The New Era 26 July 1842: [2]


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