THE BEECHEN TREE: A Tale, told in Rhyme. — By F. W. Thomas, author of "Clinton Bradshaw," &c., &c.
A modest and acceptable offering to the muse, by one of our popular authors, who has heretofore given us little but good prose. His story, "told in rhyme," however, convinces us of his qualifications as a poet. He has fine command of all forms of expression, a true eye to the beautiful, a deep and natural sense of the affections, and possesses, withal, the rarer power of curbing both his imagination and his language at the point this side of redundancy. His rythmus is smooth and musical, and his choice of epithets peculiraly [[peculiarly]] true and artistic. We do not know but we could find some blemishes in this sweet little poem, if we should look very critically over its fair pages; but, at any rate, we shall not make the experiment. We are satisfied with the pleasure we have derived from its perusal, and heartily commend it on its way to the immortality it deserves. (For sale at Coleman's, Broadway, and at Langley's, Astor House.)
[Frederick William Thomas was one of Poe's most steadfast friends. Thomas Ollive Mabbott, in his notes at the University of Iowa, felt that this friendly notice might be by Poe. The language and phrasing cannot be considered typical of Poe, even in a piece which is clearly intended as a light puff. Although Poe often stated the important role of beauty in poetry, and warned against the excesses of imagination (which Poe usually termed "fancy"), the general tone of such references as "sweet little poem" and "the immortality it deserves" seem somewhat out of character. On September 8, 1844, Poe wrote to Thomas, "Touching the 'Beechen Tree,' I remember it well and pleasantly. I have not yet seen a published copy, but will get one forthwith and notice it as it deserves -- and it deserves much of high praise -- at the very first opportunity I get. At present I am so much out of the world that I may not be able to do anything immediately." A few months later, on January 4, 1845, Poe wrote to Thomas again, apologizing, "I duly received your two letters and The Beechen Tree, for which let me thank you. My reason for not replying instanter was that I was just then making arrangements which, if fully carried out, would have enabled me to do you justice in a manner satisfactory to both of us -- but these arrangements finally fell through, after my being kept in suspense for months -- and I could find no good opportunity of putting in a word anywhere that would have done you service." This second letter would seem to preclude Poe's authorship of the item here, but Mabbott felt that Poe might not consider such a short notice doing "justice" and therefore worthy of serious mention. William D. Hull also thought that Poe might be the author, saying, "the tone of the whole seems to me typical of Poe cautiously reviewing a friend, and the circumstantial evidence is strong. I think that it is Poe's." Commenting on the same letters quoted above, Hull continues, "the notice is slight; and despite its flattering tone, it is not quite perhaps what Thomas would have wanted. . . . It is even possible that by January Poe had forgotten tossing off this brief notice." The notice is not mentioned by Heartman and Canny.]
~~~ End of Text ~~~
[S:1 - EM, 1844]