The Life and Poetry of Manoah Bodman reconstructs the poetry of
Manoah Bodman, an important early American poet whose poems have
not appeared in over a century and a half. Bodman, considered "a
man of great eccentricity," regularly delivered orations in New
England towns during the Second Great Awakening of the late
nineteenth century. He published two broadsides, two booklets, and
one book, all filled with depictions of verbal communication with
visions of various kinds possibly brought about by epileptic
seizures. Despite his long-winded, turgid prose, Bodman's poems are
curiously modern in their diction. He wrote in an ejaculatory
manner not seen in America until Emily Dickinson's work was
published seventy-five years later, and more idiomatic than anyone
else's in America until nearly the end of the nineteenth century.
Bodman's inspiration was far less literary than experiential,
providing a link between the work of Edward Taylor and Walt Whitman
in the chain of the Transcendentalists. Lewis Turco brings together
Bodman's curiously modern poems here for the first time, while
providing an understanding of his life and family.
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