American Epic

This collection of titles is only meant as a starting point for further investigations.  Not all readers would consider these texts as "epic."  Not all epics in verse are listed here.  So called "prose epic" is not listed, because (1) it is a contradiction in terms, like bourgeois epic, and (2) because it would make any such listing unmanageable.  The basis for much of this list can be found in James E. Miller's American Quest for a Supreme Fiction:  Whitman's Legacy in the Personal Epic (1979).  For other scholarship on American epic, please see the selected bibliography.
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American Epics/Long Poems

 

17th-18th Century, including Colonial

*Wigglesworth, Michael. The Day of Doom (1662)

Taylor, Edward. God’s Determinations; Preparatory Meditations

*Cooke, Ebenezer. The Sot Weed Factor (1705)

Trumbull, John. M’Fingal (1782)

Dwight, Timothy. The Conquest of Canaan (1785)

Barlow, Joel. A Vision of Columbus, The Columbiad (1787, 1807)

*Morton, Sarah Wentworth. Ouabi: or The Virtues of Nature (1790)

Snowden, Richard. The Columbiad (1795)

Brockway, Thomas. The Gospel Tragedy: An Epic Poem (1795)
 

19th Century

Linn, John Blair. The Death of Washington: A Poem in Imitation of the Manner of Ossian (1800)

Winchester, Elhanahan. The Progress and Empire of Christ (1805)

Bryan, Daniel. The Adventures of Daniel Boone (1813)

Anonymous. An Epick Poem (post-1815)

Thomas Ward. Passaic (1842)

*Poe, Edgar Allan. Eureka: A Prose Poem (1848)

*Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. The Song of Hiawatha (1855)

Whitman, Walt. Song of Myself (1855); Leaves of Grass (1855-92)

Whittier, John Greenleaf. Snowbound.

*Dickinson, Emily. Fascicles.

Melville, Herman. Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876)
 

20th Century

 

(1900-1950)

*Masters, Edgar Lee. Spoon River Anthology (1915)

*Benet, Stephen Vincent. John Brown’s Body (1928)

Crane, Hart. The Bridge (1930)

Eliot, T.S. The Waste Land, Four Quartets (1922, 1943)

*H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). Trilogy, Helen in Egypt (1944-46, 1955)

*Pound, Ezra. The Cantos (1925-1969)

Stein, Gertrude. Patriarchal Poetry, Lifting Belly

Stevens, Wallace. Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942); Comedian as the Letter "C"

*Hughes, Langston. Montage of a Dream Deferred.

*Williams, William Carlos. Paterson (1946-63)

Macleish, Archibald. Conquistador (1932)

Robinson, E.A. The Man Against the Sky. Tilbury Town (1953)

Sandburg, Carl. The People, Yes! (1936)

(1950-2000)

Ashbery, John. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1976)

*Ammons, A.R. Tape for the Turn of the Year (1965); Sphere: The Form of a Motion (1974); Garbage (1993)

*Berryman, John. Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956); Dream Songs (1964-68)

Bly, Robert. The Teeth-Mother Naked at Last (1970)

*Breckinridge, Jill. Civil Blood. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 1986.

Brooks, Gwendolyn. A Street in Bronzeville

Brown, Rosellen. Cora Fry (1977)

Carruth, Hayden.

Chappell, Fred. Midquest (1981); River

Clifton, Lucille. The Terrible Stories (1995?)

Dickey, James. The Zodiac (1976)

Di Prima, Diane. Loba (1978)

*Dorn, Edward. Slinger (1975)

Dove, Rita. Thomas and Beulah; Mother Love (1995)

Duncan, Robert. Passages (1968- )

Doubiago, Sharon. Hard Country (1982); South America Mi Hija (1990?)

Forché, Carolyn. Angel of History (1990?)

Finkel, Donald. Endurance (1978) and others

*Galvin, Brendan. Wampanoag Traveller; Saints in Their Oxhide Boat (1993)

Ginsberg, Allen. Howl (1956); Kaddish (1961); Fall of America (1972)

Goldbarth, Albert.

Gluck, Louise.

*Grahn, Judy. Queen of Wands (1982); Queen of Swords (1987)

Hejinian, Lyn. My Life. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1987.

Hoffman, Daniel.

Hudgins, Andrew. After the Lost War.

Jeffers, Robinson. The Women at Point Sur (1927); The Double Axe (1948)

Kinnell, Galway.

Koch, Kenneth. Impressions of Africa (1986)

Lowell, Robert. Notebook (1969, 1970); History (1973)

McMichael, James. Four Good Things (1980)

Merrill, James. The Changing Light at Sandover (1982); Divine Comedies

Morgan, Robin. Lady of the Beasts

Olson, Charles. The Maximus Poems (1960-75)

Pinsky, Robert. An Explanation of America (1979)

Rich, Adrienne. Sources (1983); Atlas of the Difficult World (1992); Dark Fields of the Republic (1994)

Roethke, Theodore. North American Sequence (1964)

Schuyler, James. Hymn to Life (1976)

Seth, Vikram. The Golden Gate (1986)

*Silko, Leslie Marmon. Storyteller

Swander, Mary. Driving the Body Back (1986)

Trask, Haunani Kay. Light in the Crevice Never Seen (1993?)

*Turner, Frederick. The New World (1985)

Wakoski, Diane. Greed Parts 1-13; Jason; Medea

*Warren, Robert Penn. Audubon; Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce; Brother to Dragons (1953)

Whitman, Ruth. Tamsen Donner: A Woman’s Journey (1977)

Zukofsky, Louis. A (1928-76)

Non-U.S.

La Araucana

*Auden, W.H. *The Age of Anxiety.
 
*Stevenson, Anne. Correspondences.

Brathwaite, Edward Kamau.

*Nichols, Grace. i is a long memoried woman

*Walcott, Derek. Omeros; Another Life.

Galeano, Eduardo. Memory of Fire.

*Margaret Atwood, Journals of Susannah Moodie.


 
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