DRAKE, JOSEPH RODMAN. Born in New York City, August 17, 1795; died there September 21, 1820. The short life of Joseph Rodman Drake has a romantic interest, not only for the charm of his personality and his association with Fitz-Greene Halleck who enshrined his memory in an imperishable lyric, but because of the valor with which he met the doom that overtook him. Dying at twenty-five, after four years' struggle with tuberculosis, Drake's bright spirit asserted itself to the last and the series of witty poems which appeared in the "Evening Post" under the title of "The Croakers," pleasantly satirizing local celebrities and events, were written when his illness was already far advanced. Part of these were in collaboration with Halleck. Drake's long poem, "The Culprit Fay," with its charming fancy, was written as a refutation of the charge that American rivers have no romantic associations. Drake's early boyhood was a struggle with poverty, but he managed to secure an education and fitted himself to be a physician. In the outward aspects of his life the analogy with Keats is striking. Drake's poems, containing his patriotic classic, "The American Flag," were published in 1836 by his daughter under the title of "The Culprit Fay, and Other Poems."

This biographical note is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.



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