Written by Franklin Hill Perrell Friday, 26 April 2013 00:00
The Atria of Roslyn is the venue this Wednesday evening, April 24 for the Roslyn Landmark’s monthly members program. The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the topic, “Bryant and Cedarmere” is presented by Bryant expert Harrison Hunt who has a lifetime of involvement with this fascinating topic. It is not commonly known that Bryant, who is indeed recognized as Roslyn’s most significant cultural hero, was actually one of the most famous men in the world during his own day. His status as a writer at the time of the Civil War was comparable to that of the Beatles or Elvis Presley in the music scene of the 1960s. Bryant had a sensible opinion on a lot of different topics, and his writing is virtually encyclopedic as his mind was that of a true Renaissance man.
In his lifetime, Bryant was a leader in progressive views on abolitionism and was a staunch defender of Lincoln and the Union cause, a stance particularly effective because of his position as the editor of that era’s leading newspaper. Probably his most lasting legacy was in the realm of literature where his poetry was classed with Emerson and Thoreau, and like them an exemplar of the transcendentalist movement. This attitude held that divinity was evident in nature, and that scenic beauty found in sunsets, flowers, hillside vistas, and reflections upon the water were all evidence of this power, one that went beyond the human power of reason.
Hunt’s lecture will position Bryant right in Roslyn. His acquisition of Cedarmere, which survives on seven harbor front acres, at the height of his fame and career, marked his status as a country gentleman. Indeed, Cedarmere was an early example of the country house concept, which became synonymous with Long Island by 1900. Cedarmere, however, was different than most in that there was little or nothing about it that signified grandiose display, but rather it became the poet’s workshop and private realm where his concepts about nature, horticulture, and architecture could be expressed.