Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Revolutionary War Really Did Have A Poet

And his name was Philip Freneau.  He was born on January 2, 1752, and died on December 18, 1832.  He was a newspaper editor, a sea captain, and a poet which is apparently why he was called the 'Poet of the American Revolution'.  What's interesting about this is that Freneau lived in the West Indies for a good part of the Revolutionary War.  While there he wrote about the joys and beauties of island life.  I guess that little glitch shouldn't be too surprising because he later was hired by Thomas Jefferson to be a translator for the state department even though the only language he spoke, other than English, was French.  Jefferson apparently got a little criticism for that hiring choice.
His final career was farming.
Now, why am I talking about this at all you may well ask and to that I reply, "Good question."
There's a little shopping center in Matawan, New Jersey, called Poet's Corner.  The shops are about as uninspiring as Freneau's poetry.  However, the shops are built on what was once the headquarters of the Freneau farm.  The shopping center is close to the Philip Morin Freneau Cemetery on Poet's Drive also in Matawan.  That's where Philip is buried along with his wife and mother and doubtless others.
What makes Philip Freneau remarkable, in my opinion, is not his life but his death.  He froze to death while trying to find his way home.
The middle of December is really cold here in New Jersey and deserves the heaviest coat available.  I'm thinking that poor old Philip either got lost on his own farm or became lost in memories of the War and the West Indies where coats were never needed.
At any rate, RIP Phil.

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