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by William Cullen Bryant

Thanatopsis Resources


Recorded Reading of "Thanatopsis"

Here’s a good reading of the poem with just the kind of classy, slightly English accent that does it for us.


"Thanatopsis" Short Film

A weird/cool piece of 1960s experimental film, apparently inspired by the poem.  We think it really does resonate with Bryant’s mood.

Thanatopsis in ASL

This is awesome.  All of the poem is done in American Sign Language.  Definitely worth a look.  Even for those who don’t sign, this interpretation is really cool.

Photos and Pics

"Kindred Spirits" by Asher B. Durand

This famous painting by a member of the Hudson River School shows Bryant standing with his friend, the painter Thomas Cole.  Both Cole and Bryant were famous for depicting American landscapes like the one featured in the painting.

Author as an Old Man

A photo of the author shortly after winning the blue ribbon in a contest for "Bushiest Beard in New York."  OK, that didn’t happen, but we bet he would have nailed it if it there was a competition.

Historical Documents

First Printing of "Thanatopsis"

Here’s a scan of the first published version of "Thanatopsis," in the September 1817 issue of The North American Review.  It’s a pretty different poem from the one we read today, and a good reminder of how poems evolve over time.  (You have to scroll through a few pages to read the whole thing). 


Long Bio of William Cullen Bryant

The Poetry Foundation has a long (we mean it) and really informative biography of Bryant.  Plus there are references to other sources if you really catch Bryant Fever ™! (Yeah, we don’t think that one’s going to catch on…)

How Many Humans Have Ever Lived on Earth?

Ever wonder how many people have ever lived and died on earth?  Well, it turns out to be a complicated, but pretty fascinating question…

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