Edwin Markham Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Edwin Markham ranked among the important editors of his time. His 1904 edition of the works of Edgar Allan Poe was followed by multiple volumes of The Real America in Romance, issued from 1909 through 1927 by New York publisher W. H. Wise. His edited works included several collections of British and American poetry. An accomplished and popular lecturer, Markham also wrote essays, popular articles that discussed his own compositional approaches, and introductions to the works of others. Among the latter, his subjects included John Keats, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His efforts to raise public awareness of social ills were capped by contributions to a major volume examining child labor, Children in Bondage, in 1914.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Edwin Markham began receiving widespread attention after publishing “The Man with the Hoe,” which he wrote at age forty-seven. The poem became the title poem of his first collection and established his reputation as an author of works of social conscience. Other individual poems, including “Lincoln, the Man of the People” and “Our Israfel,” gained prominence as well. Among critics, his work as a poet was eclipsed by the changing literary fashions of the first half of the twentieth century. All the same, Markham’s poems as social statements had considerable impact and enjoyed great popularity with the general reading public. In 1936, he received an Academy of American Poets Fellowship.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Downey, David G. Modern Poets and Christian Teaching: Richard Watson Gilder, Edwin Markham, Edward Rowland Sill. 1906. Reprint. Whitefish, Mont.: Kessinger, 2007. Reprint edition of the 1906 Eaton & Mains publication that placed Markham among other poets whose works strongly reflected Christian beliefs.

Filler, Louis. Introduction to The Ballad of the Gallows Bird, by Edwin Markham. Yellow Springs, Ohio: Antioch Press, 1967. In his introduction and through his selection of works as editor, Filler continues his reevaluation of the poet, giving Markham’s dramatic and visionary “The Ballad of the Gallows Bird” a central place among his works.

_______. The Unknown Edwin Markham: His Mystery and Its Significance. Yellow Springs, Ohio: Antioch Press, 1966. Filler’s study reevaluates Markham’s life and works, arguing for a restored place for the poet in the American canon.

Smith, Susan Harris, and Melanie Dawson. The American 1890’s: A Cultural Reader. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000. Useful for understanding the cultural environment in which Markham reached his maturity as a poet.

Stidger, William L. Edwin Markham. New York: Abingdon Press, 1933. The basic biography covering Markham’s most active years as poet and lecturer.