Essay on Philip Freneau's Indian Burying Ground

Essay by MccaddenSucksUniversity, Bachelor's August 2004

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By Lee A. Zito

Philip Freneau interested me from the start because I had never once heard of him. Reading his biography, I was surprised that just like John Woolman, he too was from New Jersey. As I read the rest of his biography in the book, my impression of him was heavily mixed. While he was described to be one of the most influential American poets, he was also described as a failure at almost everything he did.

I set out to find more information on Freneau and many of the documents that I found stated the same thing. However, I found that Freneau did have his accomplishments as well as failures. Many of his writings were quite popular in his day. Even though it may seem that his poetry is almost forgotten, many people still praise him and his work today.

The poem Indian Burying Ground is an easy read.

The stanzas have a very ballad like form that keeps the reading at a perfect rhythm. Freneau speaks very highly of the Native Americans as he describes their rituals for burying their dead. They would prepare the bodies as if they were going on a journey, with bows and arrows, pots and bowls. The Native Americans would also put the corpse into a sitting position.

Freneau wrote this poem after visiting a Native American burial ground. Through this poem he gives off a sense of appreciation for the ways of the Native Americans. To Freneau, it sort of over shadows his culture. Much like how he describes with Shadows and delusions.

Is our culture too passive, too delusional? Extremely, and still to this day we are. Freneau's Indian Burying Ground is an escape from his own culture. He has witnessed Native American customs, which he highly respects. These...