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Phoebe Cary (September 4, 1824 – July 31, 1871) was an American poet and essayist who, along with her sister Alice Cary (1820–1871), was an important literary figure in the mid-19th century. Both sisters are often mentioned together, but each has her own distinct literary legacy.

Literary Background: Born in Mount Healthy, Ohio, Phoebe Cary grew up in a household that valued education and literary pursuits. The Cary sisters' early works were largely influenced by the poets of the early 19th century, and they contributed significantly to the culture of American poetry prior to and after the Civil War.

Early Influences: The Cary sisters were largely self-educated but well-read, and their early influences included the works of British Romantic poets and American contemporaries such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John Greenleaf Whittier. Their literary work also reflects the strong moral and social concerns of the era, particularly around issues of abolition and women's rights.

Poetic Schools or Movements: While not associated with a specific school or movement, Phoebe Cary's poetry often touched on themes pertinent to the transcendental and feminist movements of her time. She was part of the growing body of women's voices in literature that were gaining prominence in the 19th century.

Poetic Oeuvre: Phases and Themes: Phoebe Cary's oeuvre includes both serious and humorous works, often characterized by a clear moral vision. Her poetry collections, such as "Poems and Parodies" (1854) and "Poems of Faith, Hope, and Love" (1868), reflect her engagement with religious faith, social justice, and satire. She also wrote hymns, the most famous being "One Sweetly Solemn Thought," which remains a popular hymn to this day.

Influence: Phoebe Cary, along with her sister Alice, was part of the emergence of female voices in American literature. She influenced the women's rights movement and was actively involved in social reform. The Cary sisters were among the first to open the doors for subsequent generations of women writers.

Honors: Though she was not widely honored in her time in the same manner as her male counterparts, Phoebe Cary's work was respected by her peers. She was part of a literary circle that included notable figures such as Horace Greeley and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Conclusion: Phoebe Cary's work is a testament to the changing landscape of American literature in the 19th century, particularly in the increasing inclusion of women's voices. Her poetry and essays provided insightful commentary on the spiritual and social issues of her time. While her reputation has been somewhat overshadowed by other literary figures of her era, she remains an important example of the intersection between literary achievement and social advocacy. Her body of work reflects a commitment to both artistic expression and the pressing moral issues of her day, resonating with a quiet but enduring power.


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