"It is no use trying to sum people up. One must follow hints, not exactly what is said, nor yet entirely what is done." To grasp a hold one someone's true being cannot be done through what they have said, or what they have done, but instead, a healthy combination of both. John Greenleaf Whittier, a highly acclaimed icon in nineteenth century American Literature, and his poem "Telling the Bees," can be used to analyze his styles of poetry and even what kind of person he really was.
John Greenleaf Whittier was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He was born to a Quaker family, and received little formal education, yet still devoted himself to study and reading. When he was fourteen, he was inspired by Robert Burns's poetry, and because of this, he decided to write his own poetry. His first poems, published in the Newburyport Free Press year of 1826, were edited by William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist, who became his lifelong friend.
In the years from 1828 to 1832, Whittier edited and contributed stories, sketches, and poems to various newspapers. His first two published works, Legends of New England and the poem "Moll Pitcher," published in 1831-32, warmly portrayed everyday life in his rural background.
As he continued to grow into a skilled poet, he began to support the movement towards Abolition. Whittier is to often depict as a gentle hoary-headed Quaker. For this reason, the fiery politician within him is often forgotten. He declared himself an abolitionist in the pamphlet "Justice and Expediency," published in 1833, and went to the unpopular national antislavery convention. In 1834-35 he sat in the Massachusetts legislature, ran for Congress on the Liberty ticket in 1842, and was a founder of the Republican Party. "He also worked staunchly behind the political scene to further the abolitionist cause and was an active antislavery editor until 1840, when frail health, and his father's death forced him to retire to his house in Amesbury."
Though still dwelling in his Amesbury home, he sent out more of the poems and essays that made him a spokesman for the Antislavery and he was corresponding editor of the Washington abolitionist weekly, the National Era in the years of 1847-59." In addition, Whittier compiled and edited a number of books. The most entertaining of these was the Novel, Leaves from Margaret Smith's Journal, published in 1849. Meanwhile, his volumes of verse came out almost every two years; the first authorized collection appearing in 1838.
He continued to stay active in the Antislavery movement throughout the Civil War in years 1861-65. After the Civil War, Whittier turned from politics and dedicated himself completely to poetry. Although he liked to think of himself as the "bard of common people," his best work is his careful and accurate description of New England life, history,...