CHARLES SPRAGUE, Manuscript page for the “Shak[e]spear Ode”

CHARLES SPRAGUE, Manuscript Page for the “Shak[e]spear Ode”

This never-before-displayed working draft of Sprague’s most celebrated poem, “The Shak[e]spear Ode” (1823), takes us inside his creative process. Note the table of rhymed pairs below the verse lines. Does it seem mechanical, calculating? Written in a steady, precise hand, Sprague’s manuscripts show heavy but also methodical, focused, and precise revision. As much as the materials relating to his business life, they reveal the banker in the banker-poet.

Private Collection