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Among the first native-born Anglo-American poets, Tompson was born into a family of zealous Puritans. He became a schoolmaster for several towns around Boston, his most famous pupil being Cotton Mather. Tompson’s fame as a poet arose from his volume New Englands Crisis (1676) and its revision New Englands Tears (London, 1676), a verse epic treating the war with the Algonkian Confederation during the 1670s as a test of the faith of the elect in New England. This poet’s best vein is satiric,—his favorite organ being the rhymed pentameter couplet, with a flow, a vigor, and an edge obviously caught from the contemporaneous verse of John Dryden. He has the partisanship, the exaggeration, the choleric injustice, that are common in satire; and like other satirists, failing to note the moral perspectives of history, he utters over again the stale and easy lie, wherein the past is held up as wiser and holier than the present. Though New England has had a life but little more than fifty years long, the poet sees within it the tokens of a hurrying degeneracy, in customs, in morals, in valor, in piety.

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List of poems by Benjamin Tompson 6 total

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