The poets are mostly New Englanders. The great subject is nature. The poems are generally meditative/descriptive, like Jones Very's "The Wild Rose of Plymouth" ("Upon the Plymouth shore the wild rose blooms") or Thomas Cole's lush "The Lament of the Forest" ("In joyous Summer, when the exulting earth/ Flung fragrance from innumerable flowers"). This was a somber century. Oh, and earnest. Earnest, indeed. There is virtually no satire in 19th Century American poetry.
“Major Voices” also gives a fresh perspective on the most currently celebrated 19th century American female poet: Emily Dickinson. Her poems are presented here in their raw, unpublished form; there are no titles and her original plethora of dashes are included, granting her poems a striking immediacy.