The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (190721).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.
§ 9. Occasional Pieces.
|It will have been observed that many of the pieces already mentioned belong to the class of occasional or personal compositions. This class constitutes a large fraction of the total of Whittiers work. The long list of his friendly tributes and poems written for occasions includes many that are merely trivial or without any special appeal to readers for whom the incidents or personalities commemorated have no longer any meaning. Whittier had neither the wit nor the erudition that have preserved many of the occasional pieces of Holmes and Lowell from decay. The tributes to Garrison, Sumner, and a few others still stand out as significant from this mass of metrical exercises, and when a great occasion inspired Whittier to song, the result was likely to be memorable, as in the verses which celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, the Chicago Fire of 1871, and the Centennial Exhibition of 1876.