"To a New England Poet" was written by Freneau as a sort of attack upon Washington Irving, and indeed upon all Americans who looked to England as the source of American culture. Freneau was an intensely patriotic man, who had participated in the Revolution and had been a sort of "hired pen" for Thomas Jefferson and the Republicans in the intense and brutal political squabbles of the early Republic. Irving, who had spent considerable time in Europe and in England, is portrayed by Freneau as essentially a snob who represents and values the opposite of what the still-new United States should stand for:
Lo! he has kissed a Monarch's--hand!/Before a prince I see him stand,/And with the glittering nobles mix/Forgetting times of seventy-six...
Irving essentially adopts a "love it or leave it" position, telling all those who value Britain's culture more than American culture to go there, and to stay: "...like Irving, haste away/to England your addresses pay..." Freneau, reaching the end of his life when this poem was written, is decrying the perceived attitudes of men like Irving, born after the Revolution.
Lo! he has kissed a Monarch’s—hand! Before a prince I see him stand, And with the glittering nobles mix, Forgetting times of seventy-six,