Connecticut poets tap state’s heart, vitality
Though it may not be the first thing we associate with Connecticut, poetry has been a vital part of our lives in for more than 200 years. It has inspired us or warned us, and on many occasions it has sharpened our thoughts or warmed our hearts. One of Connecticut’s 19th-century poets, James Abraham Hillhouse of New Haven, claimed in a talk he gave in 1836 that poetry offered an antidote to America’s addiction to “Politics and the Love of Money.”
Hillhouse’s teacher, Yale College President Timothy Dwight, offered sage advice in his long poem “Greenfield Hill”: “Hire not, for what yourselves can do; / Nor, ’till to-morrow’s light, delay, / What might as well be done to-day.” Other poets of the post-Revolutionary era celebrated the new nation in glowing patriotic verse, and through their words shaped the spirit of an emerging country. Joel Barlow’s comic “The Hasty Pudding,” a poem in praise of what we call mush or polenta (depending on where we eat it), was extremely popular.
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