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.