Poetry & Place in the Hilltowns
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
The merchant-collector Jonathan Sturges commissioned Kindred Spirits as a gift for William Cullen Bryant in gratitude for the nature poet’s moving eulogy to Thomas Cole, painted by artist Asher Brown Durand (1796–1886). The painting shows Cole, who had been Jonathan Sturges mentor, standing in a gorge in the Catskills in the company of a mutual friend, William Cullen Bryant.
Western Massachusetts has been home to many poets and writers inspired by this region’s remarkable landscapes and natural settings. Since April is National Poetry Month, the spring season is a great time to explore some of the local poets’ homes and writing places from the past, such as the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, MA.
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was an editor, abolitionist, conservationist, and poet. He grew up in Cummington, MA, later purchased his childhood home and converted it to a country house. Known for his poems inspired by nature, Bryant was well acquainted with prominent Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. The three of them used their artistic talents in painting and writing to champion the American landscape and helped to inspire the American conservation movement. You can read more about Bryant and his life here: www.poetryfoundation.org.
The William Cullen Bryant Homestead, now a property of The Trustees of Reservations, houses a beautiful collection of items from Bryant’s lifetime and interesting objects from later decades left by Bryant’s descendants and those that lived there. The property also boasts an old-growth forest and a trail system that follows a rivulet – a water feature Bryant wrote about in 1823 in his poem The Rivulet. Read this poem and his most famous, Thanatopsis.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrea Caluori-Rivera: A Bronx, NY native, Andrea moved to New England in 2003. She completed her A.B. in Art History at Mt. Holyoke College, followed by an M.A. degree in Italian Literary & Cultural Studies at UConn Storrs, where she taught Italian language.