Rejected — “Epigram for Wall Street”


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This humorous trifle was first attributed to Poe by Thomas Ollive Mabbott. There are distinct similarities in this presentation of a query to one in the same paper from only a few months before for Poe’s “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob.” At this time, Poe was associated with the Evening Mirror as a sort of subeditor. There are certainly other examples of such humor in Poe’s works, even in verse, and the attribution was generally accepted with only minor reservations.

In correspondence from Enrico Brandoli, of Italy, to the Poe Studies Association, however, this poem was revealed as an item that was being circulated in the New York newspapers around January 1845. His information was expanded in the form of an article, printed in the Edgar Allan Poe Review for the Fall of 2011 (see bibliography, below). The original source for the poem appears to be a British newspaper called the Somerset County Herald, and Great Western Advertiser (Bristol, Bath, the South Western Counties, and South Wales, UK) for April 13, 1844. It was subsequently picked up and reprinted as a humorous filler item in a number of newspapers in the US. Although it is possible that Poe was somehow involved in selecting and possibly renaming the item, it is just as likely that he had no connection to it at all, and that it was adapted by other editors at the Mirror, such as Willis or Morris. In any case, the poem was clearly not written by Poe, and thus it may be safely removed from the Poe canon.


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Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text — “Epigram for Wall Street” — January 23, 1845 — Evening Mirror — (Mabbott text A)  (This is Mabbott’s copy-text)

 

Reprints:

  • “Epigram for Wall Street” — January 19, 1955 — Long Island Star-Journal (Long Island, NY) (A letter to the editor, bearing the title “Poe’s Poem Gives the Secret for Wealth.” The letter is signed “Thomas O. Mabbot [[sic]], Professor, Hunter College.” The brief introductory note states: “Today is the 146th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe. To mark the day, I am making public a poem by Poe that hitherto has seen the light of day only once, in the ‘Evening Mirror’ on Jan. 23, 1845.” This item was unearthed by Enrico Brandoli after the publication of his article identifying the actual source for the poem.)

 

Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • Epigram for Wall Street” — 1969 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1: Poems, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (1:378)

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Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • None.

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Bibliography:

  • Brandoli, Enrico, “ ‘Epigram for Wall Street’: Who did it? Who?” Edgar Allan Poe Review, Fall 2011, vol. XII, no. 2, pp. 58-63.
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Poe’s Secret Poem Gives Secret to Wealth,” Long Island Star-Journal (Long Island, NY), January 19, 1955.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vol 1 Poems), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Epigram for Wall Street