Richard Lewis: Contribution as American Author

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      Richard Lewis (1700-1734) was just as prolific writer. In leisure time he could spare from being a politician in Maryland. He wrote among other things, forms of the pastoral that implied or even asserted the superiority of American landscape. The Journey from Patapsko to Annapolis, April 4, 1730 (1732) for instance, begins with a quotation from the first pastoral poem., the Georgies of Virgil. Lewis includes, later on in his poetical journey, allusions to The Seasons by the Scottish poet James Thompson and John Dryden’s translation of the Georgies. In his poem, he dwells on the idyllic life lived here by “the Monarch Swain”, with his “His Subject Flocks”, and “well tilled land”. In a way this is a commonplace example of European pastoral too. He describes the happy farmer and his family on the one hand and on there he gives attention to the burgeoning countryside around him. He spies a humming bird and beauty of whose “ever fluttering wings.” The poem becomes a paradigm for and measure of the superiority of American culture. The Phoenix becomes pale beside the American bird. Not content to stop there, the poet then asks us to behind the wonders of “the out stretched Land” beyond wood and plantation. Many American poets have drawn attention to the vast space and its apparent endlessness. This poetical journey at the end is concluded by the metaphorical description of this life as journey and prayers to the God. His poem has broken the new ground in the depiction of the American landscape and the development of the American pastoral form.

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