to do with the character of his writings, and in Bryant's case this
fact is particularly noticeable.
His earliest poems, and especially that great masterpiece, "Thanatopsis," written at the early age of eighteen, show unmistakably that the boy had grown up in the closest familiarity with the theological tenets of the New England of his day, and that the bent of his young mind was, even then, toward graver subjects than would naturally occupy the thoughts of a boy of that age.
His biographers assert that he drew his inspiration for this grand poem from the pages of Kirke White and Southey. But whatever his acquaintance with these poets may have done for him, there is a striking similarity of imagery and sentiment between his own and the writings of the sacred bards, whose utterances were as familiar to the children of a Christian household in those days as their own childish nursery songs and hymns.
For instance, compare these lines from "Thanatopsis" with a well-known passage in the Book of Job: —
" . . . Yet the dead are there:
The sacred poet says:—
"Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.
Then, again, in "The Old Man's Funeral":—
"Then rose another hoary man, and said,
Compare this with:
"Thou shalt come to the grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season."
Examples similar to these occur in many of Bryant's poems, and tend to show the result of the early religious training, that, as the son of a thoughtful, God-fearing New England gentleman of that day, he most certainly did receive.
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