Encyclopedia Brunoniana


Poetry of Brown can be found in class poems, college songs, and student publications. One of the earliest examples is the valediction of Barnabas Binney 1774, pronounced at Commencement, when he bid farewell to the president, the professor, and his classmates. Jonathan Maxcy 1787 at his Commencement delivered “A Poem on the Prospects of America,” which was published by subscription. Paul Allen 1793 wrote “On leaving Rhode-Island College,” and “The Pleasures of Literature,” dedicated to the late President James Manning. In a lighter vein, Albert Gorton Greene 1820 wrote “Old Grimes” while he was a student, William M. Thayer 1843 wrote “The Bachelor’s Soliloquy,” and Charles M. Sheldon 1883 wrote “I Want to be a Student.” John Hay 1858 wrote many poems, among them “Centennial” for the hundredth anniversary of the University in 1864. Poetry appeared in the Brunonian, the Brown Magazine, Casements, Brunonia, Dust, Smoke, Sepiad, Folio, Brown Literary Quarterly, and other periodicals. Books of poems were compiled. Brown Verse, subtitled “Selections from Verse published in the Brunonian and The Brown Magazine; including Extracts from Class Poem,” was compiled and edited by the Brunonian Board of 1893-94 in 1894. Another volume, also entitled Brown Verse, “A Selection of Brown University Undergraduate Poetry,” was edited by Vernon Purinton Squires 1889 and Henry Robinson Palmer 1890 in 1888. College Hill Verse, “Being Selections from Student Publications of Brown University, 1894-1904,” was compiled and arranged by Ilsley Boone 1904 in 1904. Two Centuries of Brown Verse, 1764-1964 was selected and edited by Sharon Brown as a Bicentennial Publication in 1965. Some of the better known poets are John Hay 1858, Sam Walter Foss 1882, Winfield T. Scott ’31, and Charles H. Philbrick ’44. Members of the faculty who have been poets are William Whitman Bailey, S. Foster Damon, librarian Harry Lyman Koopman, Edwin Honig, and Michael Harper, who was named Rhode Island’s poet laureate.