Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of The Prose and Verse by Thomas Hood (Part II),” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 233-234


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[page 233, continued:]

WILEY & PUTNAMS LIBRARY OF CHOICE READING. NO. XIX. PROSE AND VERSE. BY THOMAS HOOD. PART II.

[Broadway Journal, Aug. 23, 1845.]

WEEK before last we had some general comments on Hood’s genius and peculiarities, and gave a detailed account of the contents of Part I. of his writings, as republished in the “Library of Choice Reading.” Of Part II. therefore, we have little to say — except that it is fully as interesting as its predecessor. It embraces The Great Conflagration — A Tale of a Trumpet — Boz in America — Copyright and Copywrong — Prospectus to Hood’s Magazine — The Haunted House — Life in the Sick Room — An Autograph — Domestic Mesmerism — The Elm Tree — Lay of the Laborer — The Bridge of Sighs — The Lady’s Dream — and The Song of the Shirt.

Of these the most remarkable are those which we have italicized. They convey, too, most distinctly the genius of the author — nor can any one thoughtfully read them without a conviction that hitherto that genius has been greatly misconceived — without perceiving that even the wit of Hood had its birth in a taint of [page 234:] melancholy — perhaps hereditary — and nearly amounting to monomania.

“The Song of the Shirt” is such a composition as only Hood could have conceived, or written. Its popularity has been unbounded. Its effect arises from that grotesquerie which, in our previous article, we referred to the vivid Fancy of the author, impelled by hypochondriasis: — but “The Song of the Shirt” has scarcely a claim to the title of poem. This, however, is a mere question of words, and can by no means affect the high merit of the composition — to whatever appellation it may be considered entitled.

“The Bridge of Sighs,” on the contrary, is a poem of the loftiest order, and in our opinion the finest written by Hood — being very far superior to “The Dream of Eugene Aram.” Not its least merit is the effective rush and whirl of its singular versification — so thoroughly in accordance with the wild insanity which is the thesis of the whole.

 


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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 The Prose and Verse by Thomas Hood (Part II))