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The Quest Of Merlin

by Richard Hovey

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Born in Illinois in 1864 and educated at Dartmouth (where many of the songs he wrote as class poet are still sung), Richard Hovey next studied art in Washington and then theology in New York City before becoming a newspaper reporter in Boston -- where he met the Canadian poet Bliss Carman, with whom so much of his poetry would be written. Issuing his first volume of verse at 16, Dartmouth benefitted of his presence by the many tributary verses, fraternity songs and odes, that he wrote in their honor.

Choosing to do a little acting in order to become a better playwright, he soon thereafter wrote the first of his dramatic poems Lancelot and Guenevere which contained The Quest of Merlin and The Marriage of Guenevere. Moving to France the following year, he befriended the French Symbolists Verlaine, Mallarme and Maeterlinck, by whom he was greatly influenced. Translating Maeterlinck’s works, he went on to publish Songs of Vagabondia, co-written with Bliss Carmen, in 1894. The poems inspired collegians who took to chanting his words. Ultimately a professor of literature at Barnard College, Hovey died during a minor operation (at age 35) at the very beginning of the new century, February 24, 1900, with his fame assured.



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