Joseph Rodman Drake


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(1795–1820), born in New York City, studied medicine and, after a trip abroad, ran a drugstore for a year prior to his early death from consumption. His only writing published during his lifetime was the “Croaker Papers,” satirical verses written with his friend Fitz-Greene Halleck. On his deathbed, Drake instructed his wife to destroy the manuscript of his trifles in rhyme, but the work was preserved, and in 1835 a selection was published as The Culprit Fay and Other Poems. Of these, the best known are the title poem and The American Flag, an effusively patriotic lyric first unfurled in the Croaker series. Drake was an early member of the Knickerbocker Group, whose pretensions to fame were riddled by Poe's devasting reviews in The Literati, but he received a compensating tribute from Halleck, whose poem On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake is considered to be one of the finest elegies in American literature. Drake's Works were collected in 1935.

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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