Joseph Rodman Drake

Joseph Rodman Drake

Joseph Rodman Drake (August 17, 1795–September 21, 1820) was an early American poet.


Born in New York City, he was orphaned when young and entered a mercantile house. While still a child, he showed a talent for writing poems. He was educated at Columbia. In 1813 he began studying in a physician's office. In 1816 he began to practice medicine and in the same year was married to Sarah, daughter of Henry Eckford, the naval architect.

In 1819, together with his friend and fellow poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, he wrote a series of satirical verses for the " New York Evening Post", which were published under the penname "The Croakers." Drake died a year later, of consumption, at the age of twenty-five.

As a writer, Drake is considered part of the "Knickerbocker group", a group which also included Halleck as well as Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, James Kirke Paulding, Gulian Crommelin Verplanck, Robert Charles Sands, Lydia M. Child, and Nathaniel Parker Willis. [Nelson, Randy F. "The Almanac of American Letters". Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 30. ISBN 086576008X] A collection, "The Culprit Fay and Other Poems", was published posthumously by his daughter in 1835. His best-known poems are the long title-poem of that collection, and the patriotic "The American Flag" which was set as a cantata for two soloists, choir and orchestra by the Czech composer Antonin Dvořák in 1892-93, as his Op. 102. []

Fitz-Greene Halleck's poem "Green be the turf above thee" was written as a memorial to Drake.

Poetry sample

The American Flag:When Freedom from her mountain height:Unfurled her standard to the air:She tore the azure robe of night:And set the stars of glory there!

:She mingled with its gorgeous dyes:The milky baldric of the skies,:And striped its pure celestial white:With streakings of the morning light;

:Then, from his mansion in the sun, :She called her eagle-bearer down, :And gave into his mighty hand,:The symbol of her chosen land.

:Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly :The sign of hope and triumph high!:When speaks the signal-trumpet tone:And the long line comes gleaming on.

:Ere yet the life-blood, warm and wet, :Has dimmed the glistening bayonet:Each soldier eye shall brightly turn :To where thy sky-born glories burn, :And as his springing steps advance, :Catch war and vengeance from the glance;

:And when the cannon-mouthings loud :Heaven in wild wreaths the battle-shroud :And gory sabers rise and fall, :Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall;

:Then shall thy meteor-glances glow, :And cowering foes shall sink beneath :Each gallant arm that strikes below :That lovely messenger of death.

:Flag of the seas! on ocean wave :Thy stars shall glitter o'er the brave; :When death. careening on the gale, :Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail,

:And frighted waves rush wildly back :Before the broadside's reeling rack, :Each dying wanderer of the sea :Shall look at once to heaven and thee. :And smile to see thy splendors fly :In triumph o'er his closing eye.

:Flag of the free heart's hope and home, :By angel hands to valor given! :Thy stars have lit the welkin dome, :And all thy hues were born in heaven.

:And fixed as yonder orb divine. :That saw thy bannered blaze unfurled, :Shall thy proud stars resplendent shine, :The guard and glory of the world. []


External links

*gutenberg author|id=Joseph_Rodman_Drake|name=Joseph Rodman Drake

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