Text: James E. Heath (???) [ed. J. A. Harrison], “Review of Poems by W. C. Bryant,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VIII: Literary Criticism - part 01 (1902), pp. 1-2


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[page 1, unnumbered:]

EARLY CRITICISM.

POEMS, BY WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT. BOSTON: RUSSELL, ODIORNE & METCALFE. 1834.

[Southern Literary Messenger, January, 1835.]

THIS new and beautiful edition of Mr. Bryant’s poems has undergone the author’s correction, and contains some pieces which have never before appeared in print. As the elegant china cup from which we sip the fragrant imperial, imparts to it a finer flavor, so the pure white paper and excellent typography of the volume before us, will give a richer lustre to the gems of Mr. Bryant’s genius. Not that the value of the diamond is really enhanced by the casket which contains it, but so it is that the majority of mortals are governed by appearances; and even a dull tale will appear respectable in the pages of a hot pressed and gilt bound London annual. In justice to Mr. Bryant however, and to ourselves, we will state that our first impressions of his great intellectual power — of his deep and sacred communings with the world of poetry — were derived from a very indifferent edition of his writings, printed with bad type, on a worse paper. Mr. Bryant is well known to the American public as a poet of uncommon strength and genius; and even on the other side of the Atlantic, a son of the distinguished Roscoe, who published a volume of American poetry, pronounced him [page 2:] the first among his equals. Like Halleck, however, and some others of scarcely inferior celebrity, — his muse has languished probably for want of that due encouragement, which to our shame as a nation be it spoken, has never been awarded to that department of native literature. Mr. Bryant, we believe, finding that Parnassus was not so productive a soil as the field of politics, has connected himself with a distinguished partizan newspaper in the city of New York. His bitter regrets at the frowns of an unpoetical public, and yet his unavailing efforts to divorce himself from the ever living and surrounding objects of inspiration are beautifully alluded to in the following lines:

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Notes:

Although collected by Harrsion, this review is no longer considered to be by Poe. A later review of Bryant’s poems is by Poe. Harrison does register his doubt that the review is by Poe in footnote 1 on p. vii, but states that he includes the review purely because it was attributed by Woodberry.


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[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Poems by W. C. Bryant)