Columbia University, 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10027
Joseph Rodman Drake Park, Drake Park South &, Hunts Point Ave, The Bronx, NY 10474
Joseph Rodman Drake (August 7, 1795 – September 21, 1820) was an early American poet. Bayard Taylor's late novel, Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania (1870), is believed to be based on the poets Fitz-Greene Halleck and Joseph Rodman Drake, and since the late 20th-century has been called America's first gay novel.
Born in New York City, he was orphaned when young and entered a mercantile house. While still a child, he showed a talent for writing poems. He was educated at Columbia College. In 1813 he began studying in a physician's office. In 1816 he began to practice medicine and in the same year married Sarah, daughter of Henry Eckford, a naval architect.
In 1819, together with his friend and fellow poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, he wrote a series of satirical verses for the New York Evening Post, which were published under the penname "The Croakers." Drake died of consumption a year later at the age of twenty-five.
As a writer, Drake is considered part of the "Knickerbocker group", which also included Halleck, Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, James Kirke Paulding, Gulian Crommelin Verplanck, Robert Charles Sands, Lydia M. Child, and Nathaniel Parker Willis. A collection, The Culprit Fay and Other Poems, was published posthumously by his daughter in 1835. His best-known poems are the long title-poem of that collection, and the patriotic "The American Flag" which was set as a cantata for two soloists, choir and orchestra by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák in 1892-93. "The Culprit Fay" served as the inspiration for a 1908 orchestral rhapsody of the same name by Henry Kimball Hadley.
Fitz-Greene Halleck's poem "Green be the turf above thee" was written as a memorial to Drake. He was laid to rest in the Hunt family burial ground near The Grange, a childhood haven of Drake. In 1909 the ground was acquired by the Parks Department and in 1915, the Brooklyn Society of Arts and Science erected a 7-foot marble obelisk to his memory, and had the obituary Halleck wrote engraved on it: "Green be the turf above thee; Friend of my better days; None knew thee but to love thee; Nor named thee but to praise," an the park was named Joseph Rodman Drake Park. This park has received $180,000 of New York State funding to memorialize slave workers likely to be buried there.
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