Frederick Goddard Tuckerman Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman is recognized primarily for his poety. Like Henry David Thoreau, he was an accomplished naturalist who kept a journal, and during his lifetime, he published observations of astronomical and meteorological phenomena.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Following almost complete obscurity during the late 1800’s, Frederick Goddard Tuckerman has received considerable acclaim from modern critics and writers. In 1931, Witter Bynner ranked his sonnets “with the noblest in the language.” Yvor Winters, in 1965, placed him with Emily Dickinson and Jones Very as “the three most remarkable American poets of the nineteenth century.” Galway Kinnell, at a 1981 reading in Kansas City, Missouri, called Tuckerman the equal of Walt Whitman, Stephen Crane, and Dickinson. These judgments have, to some extent, been validated by the inclusion of Tuckerman’s verse in recent anthologies. Although Tuckerman published only one book of poems, in 1860, his current critical recognition—particularly for his sonnets—is high. Not only is he praised for the quality of his verse, but also he is seen as an important figure opposing the mainstream of nineteenth century American Romanticism.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Donoghue, Denis. Connoisseurs of Chaos: Ideas of Order in Modern American Poetry. 2d ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. This wide-ranging study devotes a chapter to recurrent oppositional themes in Tuckerman’s poetry: public and private, human and natural, physical and metaphysical, and truth and ambiguity. Also offers brief comparisons of Tuckerman to other modern poets such as Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, William Empson, Wallace Stevens, and Walt Whitman.

England, Eugene. Beyond Romanticism: Tuckerman’s Life and Poetry. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991. A combined biography and critical study, and the best source for information about Tuckerman. Written by the foremost expert on the poet, the book examines how Tuckerman was molded by, and yet reacted against, Romanticism. Includes extensive readings of individual poems, an index, and an exhaustive bibliography.

_______. “Tuckerman and Tennyson: ’Two Friends . . . on Either Side of the Atlantic.’” New England Quarterly 57 (June, 1984): 225-239. Essay explores how Tuckerman’s poetry was strongly influenced by his friendship with Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The first half examines letters between the two men; the second half demonstrates how, through his close study of the English poet, Tuckerman moved beyond him as a model and established his own unique poetic identity.

Golden, Samuel. Frederick Goddard Tuckerman. New York: Twayne, 1966. Provides basic information about Tuckerman’s life and several readings of his poems. Some of Golden’s biographical reconstructions, however, are based too fully on Tuckerman’s sonnets and not fully enough on other kinds of historical materials.

Hudgins, Andrew. “’A Monument of Labor Lost’: The Sonnets of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman.” Chicago Review 37, no. 1 (Winter, 1990): 64-79. A critical study of Tuckerman’s sonnets.

Seed, David. “Alone with God and Nature: The Poetry of Jones Very and Frederick Goddard Tuckerman.” In Nineteenth Century American Poetry, edited by A. Robert Lee. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble, 1985. A comparative study of the poetry of Tuckerman and Jones Very.