'Bronx' by Joseph Rodman Drake

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I SAT me down upon a green bank-side,
Skirting the smooth edge of a gentle river,
Whose waters seemed unwillingly to glide,
Like parting friends who linger while they sever;
Enforced to go, yet seeming still unready,
Backward they wind their way in many a wistful eddy.

Gray o'er my head the yellow-vested willow
Ruffled its hoary top in the fresh breezes,
Glancing in light, like spray on a green billow,
Or the fine frost-work which young winter freezes;
When first his power in infant pastime trying,
Congeals sad autumn's tears on the dead branches lying.

From rocks around hung the loose ivy dangling,
And in the clefts sumach of liveliest green,
Bright ising-stars the little beach was spangling,
The gold-cup sorrel from his gauzy screen
Shone like a fairy crown, enchased and beaded,
Left on some morn, when light flashed in their eyes unheeded.

The hum-bird shook his sun-touched wings around,
The bluefinch caroll'd in the still retreat;
The antic squirrel capered on the ground
Where lichens made a carpet for his feet:
Through the transparent waves, the ruddy minkle
Shot up in glimmering sparks his red fin's tiny twinkle.

There were dark cedars with loose mossy tresses,
White powdered dog-trees, and stiff hollies flaunting
Gaudy as rustics in their May-day dresses,
Blue pelloret from purple leaves upslanting
A modest gaze, like eyes of a young maiden
Shining beneath dropt lids the evening of her wedding.

The breeze fresh springing from the lips of morn,
Kissing the leaves, and sighing so to lose 'em,
The winding of the merry locust's horn,
The glad spring gushing from the rock's bare bosom:
Sweet sights, sweet sounds, all sights, all sounds excelling,
Oh! 'twas a ravishing spot formed for a poet's dwelling.

And did I leave thy loveliness, to stand
Again in the dull world of earthly blindness?
Pained with the pressure of unfriendly hands,
Sick of smooth looks, agued with icy kindness?
Left I for this thy shades, were none intrude,
To prison wandering thought and mar sweet solitude?

Yet I will look upon thy face again,
My own romantic Bronx, and it will be
A face more pleasant than the face of men.
Thy waves are old companions, I shall see
A well-remembered form in each old tree,
And hear a voice long loved in thy wild minstrelsy.

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Deep Dive into Joseph Rodman Drake's "Bronx"

Are you a fan of classic poetry? If so, then you might have come across Joseph Rodman Drake's "Bronx." This poem, which dates back to the 19th century, is one of the literary greats that continues to influence contemporary poetry.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll take a closer look at this classic poem and explore what makes it a masterpiece.

Background of the Poem and Its Author

Before we dive into the poem itself, let's take a brief look at the background of the poem and its author.

"Bronx" was written by Joseph Rodman Drake, an American poet who lived from 1795 to 1820. Drake was born in New York City and attended Columbia University, where he became friends with fellow poet Fitz-Greene Halleck. Together, they wrote several satirical poems under the pseudonym "The Croakers."

Drake is best known for his patriotic poem "The American Flag," which celebrates the symbol of American freedom and unity. However, "Bronx" is another one of his notable works, which showcases his talent for vivid imagery and lyrical expression.

Analysis of "Bronx"

Now, let's take a closer look at the poem itself. "Bronx" is a pastoral poem that describes the beauty of nature in the Bronx countryside. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each of which highlights a different aspect of the landscape.

Stanza 1

The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the speaker's perspective. The speaker describes the "lovely town" in the distance and the "flowing stream" that runs through the landscape. The speaker also mentions the "winding road" that leads through the countryside, setting up the journey that will be taken in the following stanzas.

Stanza 2

The second stanza describes the natural beauty of the landscape. The speaker mentions the "vernal shades" of spring and the "budding groves" that come to life during this time of year. The speaker also notes the "rippling brook" and the "murmuring breeze" that add to the peaceful atmosphere of the countryside.

The imagery in this stanza is particularly vivid, with Drake's use of words like "vernal," "budding," and "rippling" painting a picture of new life and growth.

Stanza 3

The third stanza shifts the focus to the animals that inhabit the landscape. The speaker describes the "flocks" of sheep and the "herds" of cows that graze in the fields. The speaker also mentions the "whistling quail" and the "twittering swallow" that add to the soundscape of the countryside.

This stanza highlights the connection between humans and nature, as the domesticated animals and the wild birds coexist in the same landscape. It also adds to the overall sense of harmony and peace in the countryside.

Stanza 4

The final stanza brings the poem to a close and emphasizes the speaker's appreciation for the beauty of the Bronx countryside. The speaker notes that even though the landscape may not be as grand as the mountains or the sea, it still has its own unique charm and beauty.

This stanza also includes the famous line, "Laughed loud and long the brooklets among," which adds a sense of joy and happiness to the overall tone of the poem.

Themes and Symbolism

While "Bronx" is primarily a descriptive poem, it also includes several themes and symbols that add depth to the work.

Nature and Harmony

One of the primary themes of the poem is the harmony between humans and nature. The domesticated animals and wild birds demonstrate how humans can coexist with nature and benefit from its beauty and abundance.

The peaceful atmosphere of the countryside also suggests a sense of balance and harmony, which contrasts with the chaos and turmoil of city life.

Beauty in Simplicity

Another theme of the poem is the beauty that can be found in simple things. The speaker notes that the landscape of the Bronx may not be as grand or majestic as other natural wonders, but it still has its own unique charm and beauty.

This theme suggests that beauty can be found in the everyday, and that we should appreciate and celebrate the simple things in life.


The imagery in "Bronx" also includes several symbols that add depth and meaning to the poem.

The "flowing stream" and "rippling brook" represent the passage of time and the constant motion of life. The "vernal shades" and "budding groves" symbolize new life and growth, while the "flocks" and "herds" represent the domestication and cultivation of nature.

These symbols add to the overall sense of harmony and balance in the poem, and highlight the interconnectedness of all living things.


Joseph Rodman Drake's "Bronx" is a classic poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Its vivid imagery, lyrical expression, and themes of nature, harmony, and beauty in simplicity make it a masterpiece of American literature.

Whether you're a fan of classic poetry or just appreciate the beauty of nature, "Bronx" is a must-read that will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Bronx: A Masterpiece of American Literature

Joseph Rodman Drake’s Poetry Bronx is a classic piece of American literature that has stood the test of time. Written in the early 19th century, the poem is a tribute to the beauty and grandeur of the Bronx River, which flows through the boroughs of the Bronx and Westchester County in New York City. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of Poetry Bronx, and examine why it remains a beloved work of American poetry.

The poem begins with a vivid description of the Bronx River, which Drake calls “the bright and silvery Bronx”. He describes the river as a “noble stream” that flows through “forests dark and old”. The imagery here is striking – the river is personified as a nobleman, and the forests are described as ancient and mysterious. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which celebrates the natural beauty of the Bronx River and its surroundings.

Drake goes on to describe the various sights and sounds of the river, from the “rippling waters” to the “rustling leaves” of the trees. He paints a picture of a tranquil and idyllic landscape, where “the wild deer and the bounding fawn” roam freely. The language here is poetic and evocative, and it is easy to imagine oneself transported to this peaceful and serene world.

One of the most striking aspects of Poetry Bronx is its use of imagery. Drake employs a wide range of metaphors and similes to describe the river and its surroundings. For example, he compares the river to a “silver chain” that winds its way through the landscape. He also describes the trees as “pillars of the sky”, and the leaves as “emeralds” that sparkle in the sunlight. These vivid and imaginative descriptions bring the landscape to life, and make it easy for the reader to visualize the scene.

Another important theme of Poetry Bronx is the idea of nature as a source of inspiration and renewal. Drake writes that the river is a “fountain of the heart”, and that it has the power to “refresh the soul”. He suggests that spending time in nature can help us to reconnect with our inner selves, and find peace and tranquility in a busy and hectic world. This theme is particularly relevant today, as many people are seeking ways to escape the stresses and pressures of modern life.

In addition to its themes and imagery, Poetry Bronx is also notable for its use of language. Drake’s writing is elegant and refined, and he employs a wide range of poetic techniques to create a sense of rhythm and flow. For example, he uses alliteration to create a musical effect, as in the line “the wild deer and the bounding fawn”. He also uses repetition to emphasize certain words and phrases, as in the line “the bright and silvery Bronx”.

Overall, Poetry Bronx is a masterpiece of American literature that continues to captivate readers today. Its themes of nature, inspiration, and renewal are timeless, and its imagery and language are both beautiful and evocative. Whether you are a lover of poetry or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, this poem is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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