a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » BIOGRAPHIES--NEW » Urian Oakes (1631-1681)

Urian Oakes (1631-1681)

Urian Oakes

The second Harvard Seal

Another of the poets of Cambridge is Urian Oakes. Born in England, he came to America as a child. After graduating from Harvard College in 1649, he returned to England, where he was a chaplain and minister until the nonconformists were silenced in 1662. After then becoming the minister of the First Parish in Cambridge, he served simultaneously for six years as President of Harvard College. His colleague, Cotton Mather, spoke of him as one of the greatest lights that ever shone in this part of the world, or that is ever like to arise in this horizon.

In A History of American Literature, dated 1878, Moses Coit Tyler of the University of Michigan declared that Oakes’s English is perhaps the richest prose style, as well as the most brilliant example of originality, breadth, and force of thought to be met with in our sermon literature from the settlement of the country down to the American Revolution. Here are a few lines expressing his contribution to American poetry, from his elegy on the death of Thomas Shepard, minister of the church in Charlestown:

… Great and good Shepard’s dead! Ah! this alone
Will set our eyes abroach, dissolve a stone
. . .
If to have solid judgment, pregnant parts,
A piercing wit, and comprehensive brain;
If to have gone the round of all the arts,
Immunity from death could gain;
Shepard would have been death-proof, and secure
From that all-conquering hand, I’m very sure.
. . .
My dearest, inmost, bosom-friend is gone!
Gone is my sweet companion, soul’s delight!
Now in an huddling crowd I’m all alone,
And almost could bid all the world –good-night.


Click here to view supplemental reading on Urian Oakes on Amazon.

Series Navigation<< Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)John Reed (1887-1920) >>
Tagged with: , ,
Categories: BIOGRAPHIES--NEW, Cambridge & Harvard, Poetry, Prayers & Visual Arts

Notable in UU History
Amory Dwight Mayo

Notable American Unitarians: Education — Amory Dwight Mayo

Amory Dwight Mayo, 1823-1907 After studying theology with Hosea Ballou and serving both Universalist and Unitarian ... Read More
Lidian Emerson with their second son, Edward, who became a writer and editor like his father. Courtesy of the Concord Free Public Library.

Emerson’s Second Marriage and Family

The Living Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson In 1834, Emerson’s travels on the lecture circuit took ... Read More
Conrad Wright

Wright, Conrad (1917-2011)

Biographical Introduction A leading historian of American Unitarianism, C. Conrad Wright has led a movement in ... Read More
Robert Stobaugh

Robert Stobaugh

Professor Stobaugh is Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School ... Read More