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Poetry at the Library of Congress and Darjeeling in the Harbor

Updated on January 3, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

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The Library of Congress Web site offers a treasure trove of poetry information. For example, it offers former poet laureate Billy Collins' list of 180 poems for school children. The project titled "Poetry 180" was Collins' contribution to poetry as he served in the poet laureate position from 2001 to 2003.

The number 180 refers to the number of days public schools are required to offer instruction. Collins offers a poem a day for the year to the students attending public schools in the United States.

Poet Laureate

There are links to information about the current poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, plus links to each former poet laureate, offering useful and informative biographical sketches.

Former laureates have been Stanley Kunitz, 2000-2001, Billy Collins, 2001-2003, Louise Glück, 2003-2004, Ted Kooser, 2004-2006, etc. Information about each former laureate's projects is available also at Past Poet Laureates Projects.

Presidential Poetry

Did you know that President John Tyler wrote poetry? To sample some of his poems, please visit Tyler as Poet. Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter are also two former presidents who dabbled in poetry.

Featured Poetry Webcast

Another feature on the Poetry home page of the Library of Congress is a web cast. One of the web casts features the poetry of Langston Hughes with the narrator David Kresh.

Poetry News and Events

The Poetry News and Events section lists upcoming readings given by poets and others with poetry information to share. This section offers a link to even more scheduled events feature poets reading poetry.

Prizes, Fellowships

This section offers information about the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry and the Witter Bynner Fellowships. The Bobbitt prize is $10,000 for “the most distinguished book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years.”

The Witter Bynner Fellowships are given to support and two poets in the poetry writing efforts. This section gives some fascinating information about the founder, Witter Bynner. Hint: Edna St. Vincent Millay and D. H. Lawrence.

The Poetry and Literature Center

In 1936, Archer M. Huntington began an endowment for the Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress. The Poetry and Literature Center was formally established in the 1940s and has received continuous support from the late Gertrude Clarke Whittall. She wanted to support and encourage appreciation of good literature and help it spread to a wider audience.

Currently, the Poet Laureate’s office is located in the Poetry and Literature Center, which supports the activities and project of the laureate. The Center also makes possible the public readings series of poetry and fiction, plus it sponsors lectures, dramatic performances, conferences, and other poetry and literature related events.

Related Sources at the Library

Some of the related sources include Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, Walt Whitman Collection, and Creative Americans. Also among the related sources, you’ll find a gift shop offering poetry and literature related items: books, jewelry, caps, etc.

Like Visiting a Museum

Without leaving your armchair, you can search for poetry, read, chat with a librarian, watch videos, and even go shopping for literary gifts. The Library of Congress Web site offers a vast amount of historical as well as current information and activities involving the art of poetry.

Boston Tea Party


Darjeeling in the Harbor


Poetry accompanied the American Revolution. One of the most poetic revolutionary acts was the dumping of Darjeeling in Boston Harbor.

As the eighteenth century progressed, the American colonies had been growing more and more independent from their British mother county, and after King George III’s costly French and Indian War, his government planned to recoup its monetary losses and to regain control over the colonies by taxing them.

Through a series of acts, 1765 Stamp Act, the 1767 Townsend Acts, and the 1770 Boston Massacre, the colonies grew even more dissatisfied with the government of England. But the King’s levy of taxation on tea became the last insult, the one that would not be tolerated, the one that is recognized as the beginning of the American Revolution for independence from England.

Taxation on the Sly

The recalcitrant colonies had refused to pay the taxes imposed by the Townsend Acts because they claimed it to be “taxation without representation.” So the English Parliament hatched a plan to tax the colonies supposedly on the sly.

The parliament actually reduced the duty on tea that the colonies would be required to pay, but the colonies were not fooled. They realized that paying any duty on imported tea would be recognizing England’s right to tax them.

Tea was as important to the colonies during that historical period as coffee is to contemporary America. The king thought the colonists would rather pay a tax than do without their tea.

The king was wrong, as the following poem, “A Lady's Adieu to Her Tea-Table,” from the Pennsylvania Gazette, February 2, 1774, attests:

Farewell the tea-board, with its gaudy equipage
Of cups and saucers, cream-bucket, sugar-tongs,
The pretty tea-chest also, lately stored
With Hyson, Congo, and best double-fine.
Full many a joyous moment have I sat by ye,
Hearing the girls tattle, the old maids talk scandal,
And the spruce coxcomb laugh at—maybe—nothing.
No more shall I dish out the once-loved liquor,
Though now detestable,
Because I’m taught (and I believe it true)
Its use will fasten slavish chains upon my country,
And Liberty’s the goddess I would choose
To reign triumphant in America.

The Party

In early December 1773, the East India Company brought shipments of tea to the colonies. At Philadelphia and New York, the ships were not permitted to dock. In Charleston, the tea was stored in warehouses. Boston allowed three ships to dock, and fierce opposition broke out among the Bostonians.

Early in the day of December 16, 1773, a meeting was held at the Old South Meeting House, and it was decided that no tax would be paid for the cargo and that the ships should leave Boston Harbor.

Later that day, a large crowd of about 5000 people congregated near the wharf where the ships sat idle. A group of citizens took the demand for the ships to leave to the Customs House, but the tax collector at the Customs House refused to let the ships leave without payment of the tax.

After the group reported back that the ships would not be leaving without payment, a group of about 200 citizens dressed as Mohawk Indians, boarded the ships and dumped about 350 cartons of Darjeeling into the harbor.

For a fascinating eyewitness account from a participant in the Boston Tea Party, please visit The History Place.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


Submit a Comment

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    22 months ago from U.S.A.

    Thank you for the comment, Red! However, as my article states, the number of days of instruction is 180, not 108.

    It would have been "a waste of good tea" had the mission not been accomplished! Have a blessed day and enjoy your Earl Grey . . .

  • RedElf profile image


    22 months ago from Canada

    Fascinating article. Thanks so much!

    Only 108 days of instruction - no wonder the school year seems so short - at least to a parent.

    I knew about the Boston Tea Party, but hadn't realized it was Darjeeling they had tossed in the salt chuck. Such a waste of good tea, though I must confess my personal favorite is still Earl Grey.


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