1858 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Rodman Drake

Charles D. Cleveland, in Compendium of American Literature (1858; 1859) 400-01.



JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE was born in the city of New York, August 7, 1795. After a suitable preparatory education, he entered upon the study of medicine, obtained his degree in October, 1816, and soon after was married to a daughter of Henry Eckford, a wealthy merchant, and was thus placed above the necessity of laboring in his profession. It was well that it was so; for his health, always delicate, began to decline, and, in the winter of 1819, he wont to New Orleans, in the hope that its milder climate would be of service to him. But be returned in the spring of 1820, not in the least improved, lingered through the summer, and died on the 21st of September, 1820.

Drake began to write verses when he was very young, and, before he was sixteen, contributed, anonymously, to two or three newspapers. Some humorous and satirical odes, called the Croaker Pieces, were written by him for the Evening Post, in March, 1819; and soon after, his friend Halleck, the poet, united with him, and the pieces were signed "Croaker & Co." The last one, written by Drake, was that spirited ode, The American Flog. But THE CULPRIT FAY is that on which the fame of Drake chiefly rests, and an ever-enduring foundation will it prove to be; for a poem of more exquisite fancy — as happily conceived as it is artistically executed — we have hardly had since the days of Milton's "Comus."