Thomas Cole | Poetry Month 2017

The Poetry of Thomas Cole

Jenny Lyubomudrova | April 25th, 2017 | Posted in Essays

Thomas Cole is well-known as one of the founding fathers of America’s Hudson River School movement. Yet, in addition to the romantic landscape paintings he produced during his prolific career, Cole also wrote a wealth of poetry that celebrated the beauty of the American landscape. During his twenty-five year career as an artist, Cole composed over one hundred poems, many of which focus on his interpretation of the natural world. Cole’s poetry provides great insight on the creative process of this foremost leader of the Hudson River School and his relationship with nature, art, and the romantic period in American painting. [1]

Let not the ostentatious gaud of art,
That tempts the eye, but touches not the heart,
Lure me from nature’s purer love divine:
But, like a pilgrim, at some holy shrine,
Bow down to her devotedly, and learn,
In her most sacred features, to discern
That truth is beauty.
[1829]

 

Thomas-Cole-Autumn-Landscape-(View-of-Mount-Chocorua)

Thomas Cole (1801–1848), Autumn Landscape (View of Mount Chocorua), oil on canvas, 38⅝ x 48½ inches

I sigh not for a stormless clime,
Where drowsy quiet ever dwells,
Where purling waters changeless clim
Through soft and green unwinter’d dells —

For storms bring beauty in their train;
The hills that roar’d beneath the blast
The woods that welter’d in the rain
Rejoice whene’er the tempest’s past.

Their faces lifting to the sky
With fresher brightness, richer hue;
As though the blast had brought them joy,
Darkness and rain dropp’d gladness too —

So storms of ill when pass’d away
Leave in our souls serene delight;
The blackness of the stormy day,
Doth make the welcome calm more bright —
[January 25, 1835]

 

Thomas-Cole-Catskill-Mountain-House

Thomas Cole (1801–1848), Catskill Mountain House, oil on canvas, 15 x 23 inches, initialed lower center: TC

1. Thomas Cole, Thomas Cole’s Poetry: The Collected Poems of America’s Foremost Painter of the Hudson River School Reflecting His Feelings for Nature and the Romantic Spirit of the Nineteenth Century, ed. Marshall B. Tymn (York, PA: Liberty Cap Books, 1972).

 

Jenny Lyubomudrova received a B.A. in European studies and art history from Barnard College, Columbia University. Her primary interest lies in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century painting. Jenny joins Questroyal with experience in fine and decorative art from two international auction houses in New York. She is fluent in Russian.