Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Erato,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. IX: Literary Criticism - part 02 (1902), pp. 73-75


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[page 73:]

ERATO. BY WILLIAM D. GALLAGHER. NO. I, CINCINNATI, JOSIAH DRAKE — NO. II, CINCINNATI, ALEXANDER FLASH.

[Southern Literary Messenger, July, 1836.]

MANY of these poems are old friends, in whose communion we have been cheered with bright hopes for the Literature of the West. Some of the pieces will be recognized by our readers, as having attained, anonymously, to an enviable reputation — among these the Wreck of the Hornet. The greater part, however, of the latter volume of Mr. Gallagher, is now, we believe, for the first time published. Mr. G. is fully a poet in the abstract sense of the word, and will be so hereafter in the popular meaning of the term. Even now he has done much in the latter way — much in every way. We think, moreover, we perceive in him a far more stable basis for solid and extensive reputation than we have seen in more than a very few of our countrymen. We allude not now particularly to force of expression, force of thought, or delicacy of imagination. All these essentials of the poet he possesses — but we wish to speak of care, study, and self-examination, of which this vigor and delicacy are in an inconceivable measure the result. That the versification of Mr. G.’s poem The Conqueror, is that of Southey’s Thalaba, we look upon as a good omen of ultimate success — although we regard the metre itself as unjustifiable. It is not impossible that Mr. G. has been led to attempt this rhythm by the same considerations which have had weight with Southey — whose Thalaba our author had not seen before the [page 74:] planning of his own poem. If so, and if Mr. Gallagher will now begin anew, in his researches about metre, where the laureate made an end, we have little doubt of his future renown.

It is not our intention to review the poems of Mr. Gallagher — nor perhaps would he thank us for so doing. They are exceedingly unequal. Long passages of the merest burlesque, and in horribly bad taste, are intermingled with those of the loftiest beauty. It seems too, that the poems before us fail invariably as entire poems, while succeeding very frequently in individual portions. But the failure of a whole cannot be shown without an analysis of that whole — and this analysis, as we have said, is beyond our intention at present. Some detached sentences, on the other hand, may be readily given; but, in equity, we must remind our readers that these sentences are selected.

The following fine lines are from The Penitent — a poem ill-conceived, ill-written, and disfigured by almost every possible blemish of manner. We presume it is one of the author’s juvenile pieces.

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From the “Wreck of the Hornet” —

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The little ballad “They told me not to love him,” has much tenderness, simplicity, and neatness of expression. We quote three of the five stanzas — the rest are equally good.

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By far the best poem we have seen from the pen of Mr. Gallagher is that entitled “August” — and it is indeed this little piece alone which would entitle him, at least now, we think, to any poetical rank above the general mass of versifiers. But the ability to write [page 75:] a poem such as “Hugo,” while implying a capacity for even higher and better things, speaks clearly of present power, and of an upward progress already begun Much of the beauty of the lines we mention, springs, it must be admitted, from imitation of Shelley — but we are not inclined to like them much the less on this account. We copy only the four initial stanzas. The remaining seven, although good, are injured by some inadvertences. The allusion, in stanzas six and seven, to Mr. Lee, a painter, destroys the keeping of all the latter portion of the poem.

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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Erato)