Christopher Pearse Cranch, 1813-1892

Christopher Pearse Cranch, Unitarian minister, poet, author, artist, and member of the Transcendental Club, graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1835. For a short time, he served as assistant pastor to Frederic Henry Hedge and, from 1837 to 1839, he assisted James Freeman Clarke on the Western Messenger. His poems appeared in The Dial, The Present, and The Harbinger, and his later poetry appeared in the collection The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875). He wrote and illustrated two successful children's books. His landscapes in the style of the Hudson River School reflect a Transcendental reverence for nature and received modest acclaim from his contemporaries.

An accomplished caricaturist, Cranch produced a series of amusing caricatures of the Transcendentalist Club, including illustrations of passages from Emerson's writings. He is best known today as the creator of the inspired response to the "transparent eyeball" passage in Nature.

Cranch dedicated his first volume of poems "To Ralph Waldo Emerson, as an Imperfect Testimony of Regard and Grateful Admiration, this little volume is dedicated by the Author." In his American Literature, 1607-1885, Charles Francis Richardson, praised Cranch's "Gnosis", as "going straight to the whole matter" of transcendentalism. George Willis Cooke considered the poem one of the best published in The Dial, a poem that "condenses transcendentalism into the briefest space."

A poem delivered in the First Congregational Church by Christopher Pearse Cranch
Manuscript of "The Question" by Christopher Pearse Cranch



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