Text: Harry Lyman Koopman, “Poe, Master of Retouching,” Typescript, 1926 (with handwritten revisions)


[title page:]

POE, MASTER OF RETOUCHING

BY

HARRY LYMAN KOOPMAN


­[page 1:]

POE, MASTER OF RETOUCHING

There is a popular belief, doubtless much older than history, that bear cubs are born so formless and lumpish that their mother has to lick them into shape. This belief has long since died out so far as our world is concerned, but the expression has been retained by authors as appropriate to their own offspring. It seems to us natural enough that most writers should have the totem of the bear, but there are some works, like the prose of De Quincey and Poe, the poetry of Keats and Poe, that strike us as belonging to a different strain. We should choose for their type of parturition the Jupiter-Minerva emblem. We take their full-born perfection as a matter of course and think no more about it until sometime we learn with a shock that they too had to be licked into shape and belong like the rest under the totem of the bear.

Poe has given us every necessary warrant for pursuing this subject, or even for drawing our example from him, though he suggests that the writer reveal his own literary methods, as he himself proceeds elaborately not to do. Near the beginning of his Philosophy of Composition he says: “I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would — that is to say who could — detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say — but, perhaps, the authorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers — poets in especial — prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy — an ecstatic intuition — and would positively shudder at ­[page 2:] letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought — at the true purposes seized only at the last moment — at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view — at the fully matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable — at the cautious selections and rejections — at the painful erasures and interpolations . . .”

In attempting to apply Poe’s suggestion to his own poetry, I shall be giving a literary shop-talk, not a talk about literature. It is in a sense the sort of thing that a reader has no business with. What an author wants is to have the public take his work as he leaves it, regardless of the processes by which he brought it into its final shape. It would be a real misfortune if most readers, especially pupils in schools, should give any attention to this phase of authorship, because they would be fooled into thinking that they knew this or that great book, when, in fact, they had laboriously missed knowing it. Yet we may for the nonce claim it as a privilege won by our admiration of an author that we should study his shop-methods, his bench-work, especially if we have a tool-kit of our own. I remember years ago hearing my father commend a certain ship carpenter as “sleighty.” He said it was a joy to watch him work with a broad-ax. From the point of view of the shop or the bench the old proverb holds true that a good workman is known by his chips. Judged by this standard, Poe was one of the worst workmen, and Shakespeare, if the tradition is true that he never blotted a line, was supreme in handicraft as in art. But the study of an author’s work-bench must be “documented,” not be a matter of guess. Milton, in estimating the ­[page 3:] character of his first book of poems, calls it “finished but not labored,” muditie nitens, non laborosa. He clearly had no shame in pleading guilty to the moderate amount of alteration in the manuscripts of these poems, which so pained Charles Lamb and made him vow never to “go into the workshop of any great artist again.” Milton’s expression probably represents the professional ideal in all art. Indeed, as regards the preference of both readers and writers, one might even extend it to say that the reader likes to feel in the work before him the spontaneous quality that goes with improvisation, and the author, no matter how hard he may toil to get it, likes to leave in his work the appearance of that quality. The world knows that the marvelous brush-work of Sargent represented not always the first stroke, but that even a thirtieth may have been necessary before he attained his effortless effect. This brings us back to our documentation. But for Sargent’s confession, or the testimony of those who watched him at work, the world would never know what a struggle his ease of touch often cost. So in writing. Still, it is not always safe to conclude that art conceals art. Scott used to laugh at the critics who picked out labored sentences in his novels, sentences that had been written at top speed and never looked at again. The extent to which Scott retouched his proofs can be judged by the specimens at Cornell; but they were not intended for the public eye. Yet, literary history, if conned for the purpose, would no doubt show a vast array of retouchings made in public; that is to say, manifold changes in successive editions. As regards language itself, Manzoni’s “I Promessi Sposi” offers a supreme instance in which an author in successive editions worked over a masterpiece to bring it out of dialect into standard usage.

Some writers suggest spontaneity by freshness, possibly even by a certain looseness, of expression. But others, like ­[page 4:] Keats and Poe, by the very perfection of their wording and phrasing produce in the reader’s mind the feeling that the thought never could have clothed itself in any other language, the expression seems so inevitable. A reader may well congratulate himself on belonging to the class that by habit accepts the work as the author gave it without going behind the words on the page. But, in these days of annotated editions, it is often hard to maintain this ideal, and, speaking for myself, it was long ago borne in upon me that the felicities of Keats were not always wrought “by first intention,” that sometimes he stumbled and fumbled badly before he found what seems the phrase inevitable from the beginning. I was still more surprised to learn that Poe was no less halting than Keats on his way to perfection. In the case of most authors, we are fairly free from the intrusion of this kind of information; we have to make some effort in order to document their various readings, but in the case of Poe, as his works are now published, we must exercise some self-control to escape them. Poe made alterations to about the same extent in both his poetry and his prose; but for the sake of narrowing our field we will confine our attention to his poetry.

It may be that I am making too much of Poe’s alterations. What is true of him may be true of most authors, without our knowing it; for the secret of the first draft and of all its successors up to the printer’s fair copy is usually safely kept by the fireplace. Readers of the later editions of Longfellow’s “Voices of the Night” might easily call the line,

“The beloved, the true hearted,”

characteristically Longfellow’s, both in spirit and in simplicity. ­[page 5:] So they are apt to be shocked if they happen upon the first edition, in which it reads:

“The belov’d ones, the true hearted.”

It was Longfellow’s fellow townsman, that “whittling Yankee,” John Neal, who pointed out to him how the line ought to read. Curiously enough, John Neal’s theory of writing was improvisation. It is Neal’s distinction that he was the first editor to extend a helping hand to Poe and the earliest critic to recognize his genius.(1) Ibsen in his earlier plays had the habit of ending sentences with a dash to imply the meanings that in later editions he wisely supplied. Browning had a way of altering his published poems and, as it seemed to some of his readers, not always for the best. I heard Colonel Higginson tell of protesting to Browning against these changes in what had practically become the property of the poetry-loving public.(2) Perhaps if that last, worst birth of time, the questionnaire, were let loose among contemporary poets, we might find that, like all other variants, their methods fall into the binomial curve, with their practice ranging all the way from virtual improvisation to virtual rewriting. But whatever rivals he may have, Poe must remain a classic instance of revision, as he is of self-betrayal. It is owing to Poe’s habit of rushing into print with his first draft and with every successive stage up to the final copy, that we have our warrant for placing him in this extreme class, or even for suspecting that he belongs there. If I may make a pun that Shakespeare himself would not have resented, I will say that Poe wears his Art upon his sleeve.

Poe is not a favorite with the Bartletts, and the world ­[page 6:] knows virtually only two quotations from him, the “Nevermore” of his “Raven” and the two lines of his lyric to Helen:

“The glory that was Greece

And the grandeur that was Rome.”

Those who have the first-edition habit, and think they get nearest the author’s real expression by taking its first form, will receive a terrible jolt when they look at these lines as they appear in 1831:

“The beauty of fair Greece

And the grandeur of old Rome.”

Any bright schoolboy could have done as well as this nor been marked high on it, for the first line says no more than the beauty of a beautiful Greece, while if one is coupling Greece and Rome together, it is Greece rather than Rome that should receive the adjective “old.” The lines in this form any reader with a soul for poetry would make haste to forget, just as he would remember the second form as long as he retained any memory for the loftiest poetic expression.

Poe’s “Raven,” so far as we are able to trace it, represents in amount and character about the average of authors’ changes in text. The changes are all for the better, slight retouchings whose total effect is rather of multiplication than addition. But there is one that represents the gulf that so often stretches between Poe’s first expression and his last. In view of the fact that in this first form Poe for once sacrificed the rhyme to “Nevermore,” it seems incredible that he should have allowed it ever to get into print. It is almost a pity to repeat it:

“Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster,” ­[page 7:]

It is alright so far, but now listen:

“So when Hope he would adjure

Stern Despair returned, instead of the sweet Hope he dared adjure,

That sad answer, ‘Nevermore.’ ”

Compare that with

“Till his songs one burden bore:

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never — nevermore.’ ”

No line in Poe’s “Bells” surpasses this in mournful music, neither does the grief-laden sixth line of the Antigone:

Tōn sōn te kamōn ouk opōp’ egō kakōn.

There is another change in the “Raven” the discussion of which is the veriest micrometry of shop-talk; but Literature, unlike Law, cannot plead de minimis non curo. The change occurs in the lines:

“In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.

Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady . . .”

Now in these lines Poe said just what he meant. Moreover, he wanted those alliterative st’s, four of them being in two pairs, “stepped a stately,” “stopped or stayed he.” But there were too many for euphony. These pairs he was unwilling to touch, but between them were the words “least” and “instant.” There is no substitute for “least,” but there might be several for “instant,” so Poe wrote “minute.” Now the sound of “minute” represents great brevity, but the meaning of it is far too long for the place. A ball player can run all round the bases in ­[page 8:] less than a third of a minute. Still, “minute” appears in the standard editions of Poe. However, if you will turn to Poe’s Philosophy of Composition, where he quotes this very passage, you will there find the word, “moment.” This, to be sure, does not sound so short as “minute,” but its meaning is the same as that of “instant,” and as the essay was published after Poe’s various revisions of the “Raven,” it would seem that “moment” was the form that he preferred. It introduces the same agreeable alliteration with “made” and “mien” that “minute” does, and it gives an open vowel to a line that needs it. If the reader agrees with me, let him make up his own text of Poe at this point.

Poe’s poem, “The Bells,” is a case of the mustard-seed and its plant. The poem, as we have it in our editions of Poe, consists of 113 lines. As first sent to the printer it contained only 18 lines. The story of the poem tells how the first suggestion of it was made by Mrs. Shew at her home. Poe came into her house in a state of despondency because he wanted to write a poem and could find no inspiration. The windows were open and the neighboring church bells wore on his nerves, giving him a headache. She offered him some paper to write on, but he declined it; whereupon she sat down and began a poem, writing as the title “The Bells, by E. A. Poe,” and beginning “The bells, the little silver bells.” This gave Poe his start and he finished the first stanza. Then she suggested for the next stanza the line “The heavy iron bells,” and Poe wrote a stanza on this. He copied the poem out and wrote under it as the name of the author, “Mrs. M. L. Shew,” saying that it was her poem. But this was only pleasantry, for he sent it to ­[page 9:] Sartain’s Magazine in this very incomplete form. About six months later, and before the fragment had been published, he followed it with the completed poem. This is the first draft:

“The Bells. — A Song

“The bells! — hear the bells!

The merry wedding bells!

The little silver bells!

How fairy-like a melody there swells

From the silver tinkling cells

Of the bells, bells, bells!

Of the bells!

 

“The bells! — ah, the bells!

The heavy iron bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells!

Hear the knells!

How horrible a monody there floats

From their throats —

From their deep-toned throats!

How I shudder at the notes

From the melancholy throats

Of the bells, bells, bells!

Of the bells!

As we read this first draft, we feel that it is rather a clue to a poem than a poem itself, and that it is not only incomplete but also far below Poe’s standard of expression. The printed form of the enlarged poem as compared with its manuscript, fortunately preserved, shows certain changes that form extremely interesting examples of retouching. It would seem an infinitesimal change that he made in the repetition next to the end of the first stanza. Where he originally had the word “bells” repeated five times in the first line of this pair, and twice in the second, he changed them to four times and three times respectively. But read the poem aloud in these two ways and you will recognize a real difference and a real improvement. In the third stanza he had written

“Much too horrified to speak.”

This he greatly improved by the transposition of the first two words, ­[page 10:] for it slides the accent on to the third. Toward the end of the stanza he had said

“By the sinking or the swelling in the clamor of the bells.”

In the last line he had said

“In the anger and the clanger of the bells.”

By making “anger” and “clamor” change places he gave a finer quality to the last line by substituting alliteration for an interior rhyme. In the fourth stanza he had written

“At the melancholy meaning of their tone.”

He changed this, keeping the alliteration, but immensely increasing the effect by writing

“At the melancholy meance [[menace]] of their tone.”

He had also written

“From out their ghostly throats,”

an ugly and unimpressive line. He changed it to

“From the rust within their throats,”

thus making a line worthy of himself at his best.

Poe first wrote

“They that live up in the steeple,”

which is a commonplace expression. He changed it to

“They that sleep up in the steeple”

which is an improvement backwards. But his third touch, a very simple one, was also magical, and the line ran,

“They that dwell up in the steeple.”

Poets are probably more apt to retouch than to cut out, but in reprinting his earlier poems Poe had shown that he was capable of poetic major surgery. In the present poem, by cutting out a single line he make a striking improvement. The last two lines as they now stand are ­[page 11:]

“They are neither brute or human,

They are Ghouls.”

Between these he had inserted a long line,

“But are pestilential carcasses departed from their souls.”

This is not only a grewsome [[gruesome]], but a fundamentally bad line, because it is the soul that departs from the body. To appreciate the gain by the omission of this line we have only to read aloud the two forms. Moreover, the line makes an eye-rhyme and not an ear-rhyme with “Ghouls,” and the imperfection strikes an irritating discord.

It is not the purpose of Poe’s poem to imitate bells. If that were all that was wanted it would only be necessary to write the word “bells” a sufficient number of times and to engage a skillful elocutionist to read them with the requisite intonations. What Poe gives is an interpretation of the bells, the soul of each revealed through its sound. The poem is therefore not a mere tour de force but a piece of tonal character reading.

I have spoken of eye-rhymes and ear-rhymes. The former I regard merely as imperfect rhymes though sometimes allowable, even desirable, but I admit no weight whatever to the plea that ear-rhymes should also be eye-rhymes, that b-o-u-g-h should not be used to rhyme with n-o-w. That would be a concession to the eye that has no place in poetry, — and yet the eye has its claims on the printed page. As I regard it, the print should indicate the rhyme scheme, and if the rhymes are written on a regular pattern, though in different lengths, the indenting should show the relationship between the divisions of the poem. One of the most extraordinary stanza forms ever put into type appears in the second ­[page 12:] stage of Poe’s “Lenore.” The poem itself is a remarkable study in transformation. First, the poem in simple four-line stanzas with alternate rhymes is transformed into one of the long stanzas with lines of varying length written in a peculiar pattern. In the third and final form of the poem as now found in his volume, Poe recast this very elaborate and varied stanzas into a series of long lines of even length with elaborate interior rhymes. Three passages will illustrate the difference. In the first form the heroine bore Poe’s favorite name, Helen.

A Paean.

 

I

 

How shall the burial rite be read?

The solemn song be sung?

The requiem for the loveliest dead,

That ever died so young?

 

II

 

Her friends are gazing on her,

And on her gaudy bier,

And weep! — Oh! to dishonor

Dead beauty with a tear!

 

III

 

They loved her for her wealth —

And they hated her for her pride —

But she grew in feeble health,

And they love her — that she died.

Lenore.

Ah, Broken is the golden bowl!

The spirit flown forever!

Let the bell toll! — A saintly soul

Glides down the Stygian river!

And let the burial rite be read —

The funeral song be sung —

A dirge for the most lovely dead

That ever died so young!

And, Guy De Vere,

Hast thou no tear?

Weep now or nevermore!

See, on yon drear

And rigid bier,

Low lies thy love Lenore! ­[page 13:]

Lenore.

Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown for ever!

Let the bell toll! — a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;

And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear? — weep now or never more!

See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!

Come! let the burial rite be read — the funeral song be sung! —

An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young —

A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

The transformation from the original form, which is called “A Paean” to the second which bears the name “Lenore,” is as great in its expression as in its prosody. The initial poem contains lines and passages that were embodied in the two later forms, but it has weak lines and misses the effect that was just within the poet’s grasp. For instance, the lines in the first form,

“With the death upon her eyes

And the life upon her hair,”

in the second form become

“The life still there

Upon her hair

The death upon her eyes.”

The gain by this rearrangement is almost immeasurable. It is interesting that in the third form the poet went back to the close which he had employed in the first, but with a great increase of effectiveness. Colonel Higginson, one of the soundest critics that America has produced, was very regretful at Poe’s change in the form of “Lenore” from the second to the third arrangement. He said of it: “Never in American literature, I think, was such a fountain of melody flung into the ­[page 14:] air as when ‘Lenore’ first appeared in the ‘Pioneer’; and never did fountain so drop downward as when Poe rearranged it in its present form. The irregular measure had a beauty as original as that of ‘Christabel’; and the lines had an ever varying cadence of their own until the author took them and cramped them into couplets.” It is my own surmise that Poe made this final recasting not for esthetic reasons but to satisfy a pet theory, announced in his Rationale of Verse, which emphasizes unity in a stanza form.

Let me repeat by way of summary and emphasis that our wonder at Poe’s changes is two-fold: First, that Poe of all poets ever should have made them; and, secondly, that a poet who needed to make them ever should have been able to, could have risen from the depths of commonplace, often represented by Poe’s first choice of expression, to the heights of genius, usually represented by his last.

I said that I would try to suggest a reason for Poe’s unusual amount of retouching, and also for the fact that he allowed himself to rush into print at so many different stages of his poems. The latter may have been due to poverty, but I am inclined to think that it was actually the result of a very different prompting. The ideal creative artist would seem to be one like the traditional Shakespeare or the Milton of Paradise Lost, whose creative and critical powers are fused and function perfectly together. The supreme test, of course, is the result, and this test Poe triumphantly passes. Nevertheless, in doing it he suggests a want of co-ordination between these two great faculties of the artist. He seems to have begun writing without the activity of his critical faculty, and to have been so ­[page 15:] carried away with his inspiration that he quite failed to realize that his first record was not an adequate expression of it. When the creative mood had passed away the critical mood asserted itself, and then came those magical changes that transformed work that we never should associate with Poe into that peculiar perfection of utterance that the world associates with Poe alone. Perhaps we can make this unusual situation a little more vivid if we let his Creative Faculty set before us the first form of “Israfel,” and then let his Critical Faculty handle it until the final form has emerged.

“Israfel

I

 

“In Heaven a spirit both dwell

Whose heart-strings are a lute;

None sing so wild —   so well

As the angel Israfel —

And the giddy stars are mute.

 

II

 

“Tottering above

In her highest noon,

The enamoured moon

Blushes with love —

While, to listen, the red levin

Pauses in Heaven.

 

III

 

“And they say (the starry choir

And all the listening things)

That Israfeli’s fire

Is owing to that lyre

With those unusual strings.

 

IV

 

“But the Heavens that angel trod,

Where deep thoughts are a duty —

Where Love is a grown god —

Where Houri glances are —

Stay! turn thine eyes afar!

Imbued with all the beauty

Which we worship in yon star. ­[page 16:]

 

V

 

“Thou art not, therefore, wrong

Israfeli, who despisest

An unimpassion’d song:

To thee the laurels belong,

Best bard, — because the wisest.

 

VI

 

“The extacies [[ecstasies]] above

With thy burning measures suit —

Thy grief — if any — thy love

With the fervor of thy lute —

Well may the stars be mute!

 

VII

 

“Yes, Heaven is thine: but this

Is a world of sweets and sours:

Our flowers are merely — flowers,

And the shadow of thy bliss

Is the sunshine of ours.

 

VIII

 

“If I did dwell where Israfel

Hath dwelt, and he where I,

He would not sing one half as well —

One half as passionately,

While a stormier note than this would swell

From my lyre within the sky.”

Let us consider that Poe’s Creative Faculty has produced this poem. He has given it as a motto that quotation from the Koran in which he had made an interpolation, “whose heart-strings are a lute,” that really is the excuse of the quotation itself. Ten years have elapsed. One day his Critical Faculty says to his Creative Faculty, “I owe you an old grudge for this poem.” He then repeats the first stanza and adds, “It is too short. You don’t work up to an effect. That third line, ‘None sang so wild — so well,’ has something wrong about it. It sounds flat and disjointed. Go over the whole stanza again; lengthen it and strengthen it.” So the Creative Faculty meekly comes to heel and produces the following: ­[page 17:]

“In Heaven a spirit doth dwell

Whose heart-strings are a lute;

None sing so wildly well

As the angel Israfel,

And the giddy stars (so legends tell),

Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell

Of his voice, all mute.

“Splendid!” says the Critical Faculty, “But your second stanza is too short. You are not using rhymes effectively enough. Expand the last part and lift the reader really up into the skies where your character is performing. So; that will do,” he adds, when the Creative Faculty has made his changes:

“Tottering above

In her highest noon,

The enamoured moon

Blushes with love,

While, to listen, the red levin

(With the rapid Pleiads, even,

Which were seven,)

Pauses in Heaven.”

“Your third stanza is too short and is weak in its close. It wants something that will get under the skin of the reader and give him a cold chill — or a hot one. That is what I mean,” he adds when his orders have been carried out:

“And they say (the starry choir

And the other listening things)

That Israfeli’s fire

Is owing to that lyre

By which he sits and sings —

The trembling living wire

Of those unusual strings.”

“The fourth stanza is too long by a line. Cut out that weak fifth line, touch up the others, and take out the jingle. That is it,” he says, as the Creative Faculty produces the new form:

“But the skies that angel trod,

Where deep thoughts are a duty,

Where Love’s a grown-up God,

Where the Houri glances are

Imbued with all the beauty

Which we worship in a star.” ­[page 18:]

“The first line of the fifth stanza has a limp in it. The stanza is too short anyhow. Put a snapper on the end of it.” Again he commends the new form:

“Therefore thou art not wrong,

Israfeli, who despisest

An unimpassioned song;

To thee the laurels belong,

Best bard, because the wisest;

Merrily live, and long!”

“The sixth is merely an almost stanza. Nobody will bring away any thrills from it. That third line is foolish. Of course he has grief, and he has other feelings too. What are they? Put them in. Now you have achieved it. That’s a stanza that the world won’t forget:”

“The ecstasies above

With thy burning measures suit:

Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,

With the fervor of thy lute:

Well may the stars be mute!”

“The seventh stanza seems all right except the fourth line. That is too short and somehow weak. Ah, that was the word, ‘perfect.’ Now your stanza is perfect, and one in which you have mastered a new manner:”

“Yes, Heaven is thine; but this

Is a world of sweets and sours;

Our flowers are merely — flowers,

And the shadow of thy perfect bliss

Is the sunshine of ours.”

“In your last stanza the third and fourth lines are poor prose. Bring them back into focus. In the next line ‘stormier’ is not the word you want. ‘Loftier’? No. ‘Bolder’; that is what the sense calls for; now you may write ‘Fecit Poe’:”

“If I could dwell

Where Israfel

Hath dwelt, and he where I,

He might not sing so wildly well

A mortal melody,

While a bolder note than this might swell

From my lyre within the sky.” ­[page 19:]

If we possessed Poe’s poems only in their earliest forms, I suspect that he would be known in literature chiefly for a single poem, “The Raven,” with a rank far below what he now holds. If I am right in assuming that Poe’s creative faculty required the lash of his critical faculty to whip it into action, we shall be justified in saying that more than in the case of almost any other famous poet his poetry was produced by his critical powers. As Shakespeare said, “This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof.”

We have been discussing Poe from the point of view of the wide spread between his inspiration and his execution. We might as well have been discussing Keats. But now a question rises — whether the revelations, due to Poe’s “raw haste” in rushing into print and the preservation of Keat’s telltale manuscripts, point to any essential difference between these writers and those whose second thoughts are their first. Are these revelations really anything more than those caused by slowing up a moving picture, and thus disclosing to the eye processes ordinarily too quick to be caught? If this query is based on fact and not a mere guess, we must revise our conception of the creative process, in which we have assigned the controlling part to invention and only a minor role to criticism. We shall have to reduce invention from its preeminence, and criticism, which it has been the fashion to disparage, we must raise to at least an equal share with invention in the triumphs of creative art.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 5:]

1.  Neal wrote to Neilson Poe in 1875: “He says in one of his letters that I gave him the first push in his upward career, and for that reason was bound to keep him moving.” — A truly Poesque attitude!

2.  On much the same grounds the public has a right to reject the change made by Lincoln in his Gettysburg address a year after its delivery by substituting “advanced” for “carried on”. The earlier form was very properly preferred in making the illuminated copy of the address for the Valley Forge Memorial.


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Notes:

This lecture was delivered by Mr. Harry Lyman Koopman (1860-1937), a librarian at Brown University, at the Fourth Annual Commemorative Program of the Poe Society, January 19, 1926.

Permission for The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore to reproduce the text was granted by the Brown University Library.

Perhaps ironically, for a paper on Poe’s revisions, this lecture itself exists in no fewer than three drafts, all with a number of handwritten revisions. The fullest version has been selected as the presumed “final” draft.

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[S:1 - typescript: Brown U., 1926] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Lectures - Poe, Master of Retouching (H. L. Koopman, 1926)