REVIEW POTPOURRI – Maine poet: Isaac McLellan

Isaac McLellan

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Isaac McLellan

Maine poet Isaac McLellan (1806-1899) was born in Portland but grew up in Boston. He went to Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, where he was friends with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and made the acquaintance of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

McLellan practiced law during his 20s, but soon grew bored and devoted himself to writing, hunting and fishing. His poetry and essays began appearing in newspapers and magazines and were collected in several volumes.

McLellan traveled in Europe, Egypt, and Syria and wrote about his experiences in an extensive series of Foreign Travels for the long gone Boston Daily Courier. He was interested in agriculture, hunting and fishing and had a spacious farm in the then peaceful countryside of Dorchester.

McLellan’s poem Autumn has verses that sum up the mixed blessings and beauties of the season; he also prefaces it with a verse by Longfellow which will be quoted first before his own stanzas:

Longfellow – ”‘Round Autumn’s mouldering urn,
Loud mourns the chill and cheerless gale,
When nightfall shades the quiet vale,
The stars in beauty burn.”

McLellan – “Now, in the fading woods, the Autumn blast
Chants its old hymn, – a melancholy sound!
And look! the yellow leaves are dripping fast,
And earth looks bleak and desolate around.

The flowers have lost their glorious scent and bloom,
And shiver now as flies the tempest by;
To some far clime hath flown the wild bird’s plume,
To greener woods, and some serener sky.”

McLellan’s favorite hunting grounds were in Cohasset, Plymouth and Marsh­field, Massa­chusetts, the last area being the farm of Daniel Webster, who frequently visited with McLellan (Webster’s favorite breakfasts consisted of roasted mutton, apple pie and Scotch.).


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