Text: Burton R. Pollin (and E. A. Poe), “Marginalia - part 13,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: The Brevities (1985), pp. 335-356 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 335:]

INSTALLMENT XIII

Southern Literary Messenger

April 1849 XV, 217-22

MARGINALIA.*

By Edgar A. Poe.

[12 items, nos. 201-212]

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

The Introduction of November 1844 was reprinted in the Southern Literary Messenger of April 1849, vol. 15, pp. 217-22, with this footnote on the first page, probably by Poe himself:

* Some years since Mr. Poe wrote for several of the Northern magazines a series of critical brevities under the title of “Marginalia.” They attracted great attention at that time and since, as characteristic of the author, and we are sure that our readers will be gratified at his resuming them in the Messenger. By way of introduction, we republish the original preface from the Democratic Review.

Marginalia 201

I do not believe that the whole world of Poetry can produce a more intensely energetic passage, of equal length, than the following, from Mrs. Browning’s “Drama of Exile.”(a) The picturesque vigor of the lines italicized is much more than Homeric:

——— On a mountain peak

Half sheathed in primal woods and glittering [page 336:]

In spasm of awful sunshine, at that hour

A Lion couched, part raised upon his paws

With his calm massive face turned full on mine

And his mane listening. When the ended curse

Left silence in the world, right suddenly

He sprang up rampant, and stood straight and stiff,

As if the new reality of Death

Were dashed against his eyes, and roared so fierce

(Such thick carniverous passion in his throat

Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear)

And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills

Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales

To distant silence — that the forest beasts,

One after one, did mutter a response

In savage and in sorrowful complaint

Which trailed along the gorges.(b)

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Exile) a. “The Drama of Exile” is the long poem which begins the two volumes of Elizabeth Barrett Barrett (1806-61) published 8/44 in England, and 10/84 in New York, the latter dating Poe’s starting to indite “The Raven.” He was greatly impressed by the contents, especially by “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship,” which suggested to him ideas, language, meter, and the refrain of “The Raven” (TOM, Poems 356-57). Poe was also impressed by her growing popularity in England and America and her association with eminent literati and editors, such as Richard Hengist Horne, whose “epic” poem Orion he extravagantly praised in the 3/44 Graham’s (H 11.249-75). Poe bent his efforts during this year and the next to secure Horne’s aid in the British publication of his long, semi-burlesque tale “The Spectacles,” of 3/27/44 (see Pollin, “‘The Spectacles,‘” AL, 1965, 37.185-190; J. J. Moldenhauer, SAR 1977,180-188). Poe at that time tried to cultivate Miss Barrett’s favor with his dedication of The Raven and Other Poems (1845) “To the noblest of her sex — to the author of ‘The Drama of Exile’ . . . with the most enthusiastic admiration and with the most sincere esteem.” In the first two issues of the new Broadway Journal Poe published a two-part reading (1/4/45; 1/11) of this “drama” as lengthy and detailed as any critique of his career — although somewhat ambiguous in tone. The relationship of Poe and Miss Barrett was made more personal through her reply to the dedication, commenting on the “sensation” produced by “Valdemar” about which Poe wrote to Joseph M. Field, 6/15/46, as from “the world’s greatest poetess” (Ostrom 319; see also Quinn, 451-52, 485). The growing reputation, in the years following her marriage to Robert Browning (9/12/46), of both husband and wife and Poe’s continued desire to be publicized in England, through R. H. Horne, among others, may have helped to usher this flattering article into this installment of M and also M 222. [page 337:]

gorges) b. The excerpt was the third cited in his first BJ critique (1.6) and even the two introductory sentences are adapted from that text: “Still it may very well happen that among this material there shall be individual passages of great beauty. . . . (excerpt) There is an Homeric force here-a vivid picturesqueness which all men will appreciate and admire. . . . the longest quotable passage in the drama.” Save for the numerous changes in accidentals and the addition by Poe of emphasizing italics, he follows the text in the BJ, that of the first American edition, save for one probable transcription error — “mine” for “thine” at the end of line 5. In the second part of the rev., after fully exposing her faults, Poe concedes this: “Miss Barrett has done more, in poetry, than any woman, living or dead. . . . She has surpassed all her poetical contemporaries of either sex” except for Tennyson (1.20). He is once again, in 1849, reaffirming this sentiment.

Marginalia 202

There are few cases in which mere popularity should be considered a proper test of merit; but the case of song-writing is, I think, one of the few. In speaking of song-writing, I mean, of course, the composition of brief poems with an eye to their adaptation for music in the vulgar sense. In this ultimate destination of the song proper, lies its essence — its genius. It is the strict reference to music — it is the dependence upon modulated expression — which gives to this branch of letters a character altogether unique, and separates it, in great measure and in a manner not sufficiently considered, from ordinary literature; rendering it independent of merely ordinary proprieties; allowing it, and in fact demanding for it, a wide latitude of Law; absolutely insisting upon a certain wild license and indefinitiveness — an indefinitiveness recognized by every musician who is not a mere fiddler, as an important point in the philosophy of his science — as the soul, indeed, of the sensations derivable from its practice — sensations which bewilder while they enthral — and which would not so enthral if they did not so bewilder.(a)

The sentiments deducible from the conception of sweet sound simply, are out of the reach of analysis — although referable, possibly, in their last result, to that merely mathematical recognition of equality which seems to be the root of all Beauty. Our impressions of harmony and melody in conjunction, are more readily analyzed; but one thing is certain — that the sentimental pleasure derivable from music, is nearly in the ratio of its indefinitiveness. Give to music any undue decision — imbue it with any very determinate tone — and you deprive it, at once, of its ethereal, its ideal, and, I sincerely believe, of its intrinsic and essential character. You dispel its dreamlike luxury: — you dissolve the atmosphere of the [page 338:] mystic in which its whole nature is bound up: — you exhaust it of its breath of fäery. It then becomes a tangible and easily appreciable thing — a conception of the earth, earthy. It will not, to be sure, lose all its power to please, but all that I consider the distinctiveness of that power. And to the over-cultivated talent, or to the unimaginative apprehension, this deprivation of its most delicate nare will be, not unfrequently, a recommendation. A determinateness of expression is sought — and sometimes by composers who should know better — is sought as a beauty, rather than rejected as a blemish. Thus we have, even from high authorities, attempts at absolute imitation in musical sounds. Who can forget, or cease to regret, the many errors of this kind into which some great minds have fallen, simply through over-estimating the triumphs of skill. Who can help lamenting the Battles of Pragues? What man of taste is not ready to laugh, or to weep, over their “guns, drums, trumpets, blunderbusses and thunder?” “Vocal music,” says L‘Abbate Gravina, “ought to imitate the natural language of the human feelings and passions, rather than the warblings of Canary birds, which our singers, now-a-days, affect so vastly to mimic with their quaverings and boasted cadences.” This is true only so far as the “rather” is concerned. If any music must imitate any thing, it were, undoubtedly, better that the imitation should be limited as Gravina suggests.(b)

That indefinitiveness which is, at least, one of the essentials of true music, must, of course, be kept in view by the song-writer; while, by the critic, it should always be considered in his estimate of the song. It is, in the author, a consciousness-sometimes merely an instinctive appreciation, of this necessity for the indefinite, which imparts to all songs, rightly conceived, that free, affluent, and hearty manner, little scrupulous about niceties of phrase, which cannot be better expressed than by the hackneyed French word abandonnement, and which is so strikingly exemplified in both the serious and joyous ballads and carols of our old English progenitors.(c) Wherever verse has been found most strictly married to music, this feature prevails. It is thus the essence of all antique song. It is the soul of Homer.(d) It is the spirit of Anacreon.(e) It is even the genius of Æschylus.(f) Coming down to our own times, it is the vital principle in De Béranger.(g) Wanting this quality, no song-writer was ever truly popular, and, for the reasons assigned, no song-writer need ever expect to be so.

These views properly understood, it will be seen how baseless are the ordinary objections to songs proper, on the score of “conceit,” (to use Johnson’s word,) or of hyperbole, or on various other grounds tenable enough in respect to poetry not designed for music.(h) The “conceit,” for example, which some envious rivals of Morris have so much objected to —

Her heart and morning broke together

In the storm — [page 339:]

this “conceit” is merely in keeping with the essential spirit of the song proper.(i) To all reasonable persons it will be sufficient to say that the fervid, hearty, free-spoken songs of Cowley and of Donne — more especially of Cunningham, of Harrington and of Carew — abound in precisely similar things; and that they are to be met with, plentifully, in the polished pages of Moore and of Béranger, who introduce them with thought and retain them after mature deliberation.(j)

Morris is, very decidedly, our best writer of songs — and, in saying this, I mean to assign him a high rank as poet. For my own part, I would much rather have written the best song of a nation than its noblest epic. One or two of Hoffman’s songs have merit — but they are sad echoes of Moore, and even if this were not so (every body knows that it is so) they are totally deficient in the real song-essence. “Woodman Spare that Tree” and “By the Lake where droops the Willow” are compositions of which any poet, living or dead, might justly be proud. By these, if by nothing else, Morris is immortal. It is quite impossible to put down such things by sneers. The affectation of contemning them is of no avail — unless to render manifest the envy of those who affect the contempt.(k) As mere poems, there are several of Morris’s compositions equal, if not superior, to either of those just mentioned, but as songs I much doubt whether these latter have ever been surpassed. In quiet grace and unaffected tenderness, I know no American poem which excels the following:

Where Hudson’s wave o‘er silvery sands

Winds through the hills afar,

Old Crow-nest like a monarch stands,

Crowned with a single star.

And there, amid the billowy swells

Of rock-ribbed, cloud-capped earth,

My fair and gentle Ida dwells,

A nymph of mountain birth.

 

The snow-flake that the cliff receives —

The diamonds of the showers —

Spring’s tender blossoms, buds and leaves —

The sisterhood of flowers —

Morn’s early beam — eve’s balmy breeze —

Her purity define: —

But Ida’s dearer far than these

To this fond breast of mine.

 

My heart is on the hills; the shades

Of night are on my brow.

Ye pleasant haunts and silent glades

My soul is with you now.

I bless the star-crowned Highlands where

My Ida’s footsteps roam: — [page 340:]

Oh, for a falcon’s wing to bear —

To bear me to my home.(l)

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bewilder) a. This entire article is adapted closely from Poe’s review, in the 12/39 BGM (5.332-33; H 10.41-45), of George Pope Morris’ National Melodies of America (properly titled American Melodies). Harrison’s reprint misleadingly asserts that it was in the 4/49 SLM under the title of the book — erroneous because it bore no title, was not separately published away from the Marginalia, and was a duplicate, inserted by Harrison among the reviews, of this very Marginalia item (no. 202), with no mention of that fact in the footnote. Since nothing essential is changed — the 1849 form being slightly shorter — the original in BGM need not here be provided.

Poe’s reasons for including his 1839 observations now demand speculation. His interests in song-writing as well as the relationship between poetic text and music, both being ideally “indefmitive,” were especially strong in the year of “Eldorado” and “Annabel Lee.” I have contended that the former was planned by Poe as the “paroles” of a song, taking advantage of the burning topic of the Gold-Rush to California (see Prairie Schooner, 1973, 46.228-35). The popularity of “Annabel Lee” as lyrics for music appears in its premier position (no. 32, with “Eldorado” next at no. 28) in the special list in M. G. Evans’ Music and . . . Poe (Baltimore, 1939; see also, for many more modern settings, Pollin, “More Music to Poe,” Music and Letters, 1973, 54.391-404; and PS, 6/82, 15.7-13). The subject of “indefinitiveness” as related to music and poetry was treated in M 44 (which this article partly duplicates; see below). The word-coined by Poe (see PCW 29 which gives the loci of seven more instances) for his 1839 rev. — is important in his aesthetics, but not fully treated as yet; see my survey in “Poe and Music,” Vol. 16 (Supplement) of Die Musik in Geschichte and Gegenwart (Basel, 1978), pp. 1504-07.

The ref. to a “fiddler” is repeated from M 16, where he is disparaging the music commentator, essayist, and tale-writer H. F. Chorley. In both articles Poe implies his own expertise in the “science” of music superior to mere performance; for his own singing and playing the flute, see the claim of Edward Wagenknecht, Poe: The Man behind the Legend (N. Y., 1963), pp. 110-11).

suggests) b. For Poe’s concept of “equality” as the “root” of all beauty, see M 147 (para. 1) and also M 44 n. e, above. For Poe’s highly individual placement of the dieresis on the first, not the second of the two vowels, see M 44 f. above; for his peculiar use of “nare” for “grace” or “essence” see M 44 h. By “decision” Poe means “decisiveness” or “determinateness,” which word Poe apparently thought he had coined (judging from his italics), almost correctly, for the OED, with a 1692 instance, gives Poe’s 1846 use in his sketch of Willis (H 15.13 n.l) as [page 341:] second. Here Poe uses “mystic” in its favorable sense of “supernatural” or “above the real” and the entrancingly “strange.” For Kotswara’s “Battle of Prague” see M 44; also for the full text in English and Italian of a passage of Gravina’s Della Tragedia, the original of this (see also M 8 and “Poetic Principle,” H 14.247).

progenitors) c. Poe managed to attach a peculiar significance to what he correctly termed “the hackneyed . . . abandonnement,” by which he meant “lack of restraint.” See his use in M Intro. para. 4, (also in the sketch of Mrs. Osgood, H 25.94) “abandon” in M 192, sent. 1, and M 291 n. e. In fact, this was only one of the many more common-place meanings in Poe’s day (e.g., A. Spiers, ed., French and English Pronouncing Dictionary, New York, 1857).

Homer) d. The source passage for this in BGM includes an erudite allusion to Hedelin concerning Homer’s epics as made up of songs “in the manner of the songs of the Pontneuf” — that is, street ballads (first given in Pin 22).

Anacreon) e. Anacreon (570 B. C.), lyric poet, born at Teos, a settler then at Abdera in Thrace, then favored dweller at Samos and at Athens, gave his name “Anacreontic” to one of his favorite stanzaic patterns, often celebrating love and drinking. He was noted for his wit, fancy, and love of pleasure, and his name is frequent in Poe’s pages (see M 244, loci in PD 3, index in TOM’s Poems and Tales).

Aeschylus) f. For this favorite of the three great Greek playwrights, see PD 1-2, M 131. TOM 82n11. 713n12. It is difficult for the reader, by now, to remember that it is the “indefinitiveness” of “true music” that Poe expects to find in the “libretti” or “words” of their play-setting here. Has Poe ever studied the strict patterns of Greek drama?

Béranger) g. Jean-Pierre de Béranger (of humble birth and never ennobled) (1780-1857) was the idolized song-writer and lyric poet of the French common man, who said of himself: “a good little poet, a clever artisian . . . to whom the old airs . . . have brought happiness. . . . I shall have a line in history” (see the ch. on Béranger and Poe in DP 54-74). Poe knew of him almost entirely from Robert Walsh’s translation of Loménie’s Sketches (which he reviewed in 1841). He cited him in almost a dozen passages — often attaching too much importance to his work.

music) h. Poe seemed to think that Johnson’s was the first use of “conceit” for strained or fantastic figure of speech, as in Rambler 141 of 1751, ignoring the common use of the term by the Elizabethans. Perhaps he had in mind Johnson’s Dictionary definition: “fancy, fantastical notion” as in Locke, and “striking thought,” as in Pope, or his ref. to “wild conceits” in his “Life of Pope” (Works, Arthur Murphy, ed. London, 1792,11.176-77).

proper) i. This is not in the collected works of George Pope Morris (1802-64), journalist and poet, who founded the Mirror and, with Willis, the Home Journal. It is part of his “song” “Meeta” (diminutive of [page 342:] Margaret), music by Charles E. Horn (N. Y.: Davis and Horn, 1839), which was vigorously attacked in the contemporary press for its “farfetchedness” (see 8/l/40 New World, vol. 1, no. 9, p. 143). The caustic editor Park Benjamin, also a poetaster, was probably the author of the article which scorned the song’s weakest lines and images. Poe may have taken his brief text from this article. The DAB notes the rumor that Morris could “obtain fifty dollars for a song unread.”

deliberation) j. For Abraham Cowley (1618-67) see Pin 48, H 9.91, 95; 10.44; 12.140 (the last linking him with Donne). For John Donne (1572-1631) see 9.91; 10.44; 12.140, and 15.69. Sir John Harington, preferably thus spelled (1561-1612), witty and varied author (Epigrams and Nugae Antiquae) is probably meant here and in 10.44. For Thomas Carew (1595?-1639?), writer of songs and masques, see 9.91 and 10.44. Poe’s awareness of these and many other minor poets of the past was often through the anthologies that he had to review, such as S. C. Hall’s Book of Gems (in the 8/36 SLM; H 9.91-103), probably retained for years in his small library. Thomas Moore (1779-1852), novelist, musician and poet (Irish Melodies, Epicurean, Lalla Rookh), played an enormous role in Poe’s development and works (see PD 65 for over two dozen passages; also SM 4 and 17; FS 41, M 218). Allan Cunningham (1784-1842), Scotch poet, popular for his short pieces and imitations of ancient ballads (see H 10.44, 207), had provided the substance for M 142.

contempt) k. The second sentence of para. 5, reflecting slightly Poe’s adverse views of long compositions, such as epics, is reminiscent of Poe’s Pin 50 concerning Sheridan’s preference of Glover’s ballad over the Annals of Tacitus. Charles Fenno Hoffman (1806-64), prolific and varied author and editor before his final insanity of 1849, issued three collections of popular verse; The Echo (1844) was named to answer British charges of his imitating Moore’s verses. The two “immortal” poems of Morris named by Poe were once memorized by every child. Their first stanzas follow: “Woodman, spare that tree! / Touch not a single bough! / In youth it sheltered me, / And I‘ll protect it now. / ‘T was my forefather’s hand / That placed it near his cot; / There, woodman, let it stand, / Thy axe shall harm it not.” (Poe is careless about the first line of the second.) “Near the lake where drooped the willow, / Long time ago!/ Where the rock threw back the billow, / Brighter than snow — / Dwelt a maid, beloved and cherished / By high and low; / But with autumn’s leaf she perished, / Long time ago!” Perhaps “Long time ago” is too much a ballad commonplace to suggest “Time long ago” in stanza 2 of “The Haunted Palace.” The “New World” critic (see note i, above) also points out this refrain as used for a minstrel song of that title with a line “As I was gwine down Shine [sic] Bone Alley,” which is the basis of a parody of Poe’s poem (with its refrain) later published by Henry Hirst (TOM, Poems 317). Poe added another poem by Morris, “The Star of [page 343:] Love,” to comprise “undeniably four of the truest and sweetest poems . . . ever published in America” in his rev. of Graham’s of 4/45 in the 4/5/45 BJ, 1.220 (not in H).

my home) l. The song, “Where Hudson’s Wave,” is included in the 1843 Deserted Bride, and Other Poems, the 1844 Songs and Ballads (published as an “Extra” in the New Mirror Library, No. 4), and Poems (1854). The second notes that it was set to music by J. P. Knight, sung by Mrs. Sutton, published by Firth and Hall. All three give “Cronest” for Crownest in line 3 and, in the last line, “Me onward to my home.” For “silent glades” (st. 3) the 1844 and 1854 editions change the adjective to “quiet.” Poe’s apparent change to “Crow-nest” betokens special knowledge and accuracy, for “Crows Nest” (sic) Mountain in Cornwall Township of Orange County, New York, is given as the second highest peak of the Catskills (1,418 feet; first is Butter Hill at 1,529) in the Atlas of T. W. Beers (Chicago, 1875). For the quality of “grace” in writing see M 209.

Marginalia 203

A capital book, generally speaking;* but Mr. Grattan has a bad habit — that of loitering in the road — of dallying and toying with his subjects, as a kitten with a mouse — instead of grasping it firmly at once and eating it up without more ado. He takes up too much time in the ante-room. He has never done with his introductions. Occasionally, one introduction is but the vestibule to another; so that by the time he arrives at his main incidents there is nothing more to tell. He seems afflicted with that curious yet common perversity observed in garrulous old women — the desire of tantalizing by circumlocution. Mr. G’s circumlocution, however, is by no means like that which Albany Fonblanque describes as “a style of about and about and all the way round to nothing and nonsense.“. . . If the greasy-looking lithograph here given as a frontispiece, be meant for Mr. Grattan, then is Mr. Grattan like nobody else: — for the fact is, I never yet knew an individual with a wire wig, or the countenance of an under-done apple dumpling. . . . As a general rule, no man should put his own face in his own book. In looking at the author’s countenance the reader is seldom in condition to keep his own.

* “Highways and By-ways.”

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Note: This is almost verbatim reprinted from M 114. Yet the addition of the Albany Fonblanque quotation and the last two sentences makes it evident that Poe was deliberate about the altered repetition. The triviality of the content makes this “second round” a mystery. The book title is varied in the accidentals (capitals and hyphens). The other significant variants follow, with the text of M 114 given before the slash: [page 344:] main theme / main incidents; perversity common enough even among other good talkers / perversity etc.; Mr. G’s . . . nonsense” (new); overdone apple-dumpling / under-done apple dumpling; last two sentences (new). Unfound is the source text of the quotation from Albany Fonblanque (1793-1872), journalist who became the successor of Leigh Hunt as editor of the Examiner, 1830-47, where Poe may have read this. As indicated in M 114, this article (as well) is taken almost verbatim from BGM of 6/40, 6.294, save for the Fonblanque reference; in a few phrases this one is even closer than M 114.

Marginalia 204

In a “Hymn for Christmas,” by Mrs. Hemans, we find the following stanza:(a)

Oh, lovely voices of the sky

Which hymned the Saviour’s birth,

Are ye not singing still on high,

Ye that sang “Peace on Earth“?

To us yet speak the strains

Wherewith, in times gone by,

Ye blessed the Syrian swains,

Oh, voices of the sky!(b)

And at page 305 of “The Christian Keepsake and Missionary Annual for 1840” — a Philadelphian Annual — we find “A Christmas Carol,” by Richard W. Dodson: — the first stanza running thus:

Angel voices of the sky!

Ye that hymned Messiah’s birth,

Sweetly singing from on high

“Peace, Goodwill to all on earth!”

Oh, to us impart those strains!

Bid our doubts and fears to cease!

Ye that cheered the Syrian swains,

Cheer us with that song of peace!(c)

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stanza) a. This further episode in Poe’s campaign against plagiarism is taken from his uncollected review of The Christian Keepsake and Missionary Annual for 1840, edited by the Rev. John A. Clark (W. Marshall and Co., Phila., 1839). It was included in BGM of 12/39, 5.327-28, and is full of particularities about the authors included and the art work. The last para. is relevant: “One of the most impudent specimens of plagiarism that ever occurred, disgraces the pages of this Annual and deserves exposure and castigation, inasmuch as it is an insult to the [page 345:] common sense of the reading community, and a positive wrong to the publishers, who have liberally expended the necessary sums in the procuration of superior literary worth. At page 305, there is ‘A Christmas Carol,’ by Richard W. Dodson, Esq. of Philadelphia. Now, this Christmas Carol is copied in substance and spirit from a Hymn for Christmas by Mrs. Hemans. We give the first verse of each article, and leave Mr. Dodson to speak for himself.”

sky) b. Mrs. Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) of England had an astonishing popularity in America. Her collected works (1839) include her “Translations from Camoens and other Poets,” “Lays of Many Lands” and “Songs of the Affections” (and “Casabianca”: “The boy stood on the burning deck.”). Poe knew her works well (cf. H 8.124 26; 10.190,195-96; 15. 100). This poem can be found in her 1836 (Phil,.) ed. of Poetical Works, p. 282, which confirms the reading “in time gone by,” which also appears in the BGM.

peace) c. Dodson is too obscure as a poet to be traced. Poe’s shock at the close plagiarism here is understandable. Only the accidentals differ from the printing in BGM.

Marginalia 205

A book* remarkable for its artistic unity. It is to be commended, also, on higher grounds. I do not think, indeed, that a better novel of its kind has been composed by an American. To be sure, it is not precisely the work to place in the hands of a lady; but its incidents are striking and original, its scenes of passion nervously wrought, and its philosophy, if not at all times tenable, at least admirable on the important scores of suggestiveness and audacity. In a word, it is that rare thing, a fiction of power without rudeness.(a) Its spirit, in general, resembles that of Reynolds’ “Miserrimus.”(b)

* “Confessions of a Poet.”

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rudeness) a. This is closely adapted from the sketch of Laughton Osborn in the “Literati” in the 5/46 Godey’s (H 15.44-49). The shifts in Poe’s opinion of the author suggest an ulterior motive in his now featuring a book that he had initially utterly condemned; perhaps it lay in the penultimate para. of his sketch concerning his “most influential” family or his extensive and varied talents and accomplishments, considered ultimately to be useful for the Stylus. The DAB aptly summarizes: “Prolific writer of limited talents and eccentric habits” who “spent much time attacking critics” (1809-78), many of them of the group abominated by Poe (the Clarks, Col. Stone, Charles King). After his small early work, Adventures of Jeremy Levis, a medley of genres, and his Dream of Alla-Ad-Deen (a thin pamphlet, deprecated by Poe for its size and content) see [page 345:] M 215), came the anonymous Confessions, attributed to John Neal for years, by Poe (see Ostrom 293-95). Poe found no sense or worth or even good printing in the spun-out two volumes — a mere series of annotations (SLM of 4/35; H 8.2-3). In a letter to T. W. White of 5/30/35 he repeats his deprecation of this work, while insisting upon his having carefully read it, but in a letter to L. Osborn of 8/15/45 responding to an indignant missive over Poe’s scorn of his Vision of Rubeta (“gilded swill trough”), Poe asserts that “I have written warmly in its defence” (Ostrom 294, see S. Moss, pp. 70-71). Poe had also found little merit in Arthur Carryl (1841). In the midforties, however, personal relations between the two authors quickened, although unfortunately much of the correspondence seeems lost (see Ostrom, Revised Checklist in SAR 1981, #559-61, 572, 578, 582, and 4th Supplement, in AL of 1/74, 45.527). While a few phrases have been changed from the “Literati” sketch (H 15.46) there is no essential difference.

Miserrimus) b. For the first novel, by F. M. Reynolds, see M 113.

Marginalia 206

Had the “George Balcombe” of Professor Beverley Tucker been the work of any one born North of Mason and Dixon’s line, it would have been long ago recognized as one of the very noblest fictions ever written by an American. It is almost as good as “Caleb Williams.”(a) The manner in which the cabal of the “North American Review” first write all our books and then review them, puts me in mind of the fable about the Lion and the Painter. It is high time that the literary South took its own interests into its own charge.(b)

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Williams) a. Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1784-1851), half brother of John Randolph of Roanoke, was Professor of law at William and Mary, ed. and contributor to the SLM, lifelong advocate of artistocratic government and secession and author of the anonymous George Balcombe (1830) and Partisan Leader (1836). In his 11/41 Graham’s “Autography” sketch Poe praised the first novel (although granting it to be too didactic) and noted the harshness of his criticism (H 15.195-96). Poe often complains about the bias in the North against Southern writers (even in M 208); his letter to John R. Thompson of the SLM, of 1/13/49 (Ostrom 415-16) about “reopening the Marginalia series” says: “I can touch, briefly, any topic. . . many points affecting the interests of Southern Letters — especially in reference to Northern neglect or misrepresentation of them.” Poe is bitter particularly about the bias of New England editors, for example, the NAR (see MM 208, 212, 290). Tucker’s novel in its views and tendency is opposite to William Godwin’s Things as they are, [page 347:] or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794), which Poe admired and praised in almost a dozen passages for its “backwards” plotting, suspense (or intrigue), autorial comment, and early use of “detective” devices (see DP, ch. 7, “Godwin and Poe,” pp. 107-127), seeming scarcely conscious of Godwin’s radical social theories.

charge) b. Poe converts Aesop’s “sculptor” into a “painter,” q.v. in An Argosy of Fables, ed. Frederic T. Cooper (N. Y., 1921), p. 32. Fable 63 tells of a man and a lion arguing about the relative strength and bravery of the two species. They pass the statue of a man strangling a lion, but the lion insists that in his version, twenty men would be under the paw of one lion.

Marginalia 207

Here is a good idea for a Magazine paper: — let somebody “work it up:” — A flippant pretender to universal acquirement — a would-be Crichton — engrosses, for an hour or two perhaps, the attention of a large company — most of whom are profoundly impressed by his knowledge.(a) He is very witty, in especial, at the expense of a modest young gentleman, who ventures to make no reply, and who, finally, leaves the room as if overwhelmed with confusion; the Crichton greeting his exit with a laugh. Presently he returns, followed by a footman carrying an armfull [sic] of books. These are deposited on the table. The young gentleman, now, referring to some pencilled notes which he had been secretly taking during the Crichton’s display of erudition, pins the latter to his statements, each by each, and refutes them all in turn, by reference to the very authorities cited by the egotist himself — whose ignorance at all points is thus made apparent.(b)

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knowledge) a. James Crichton (1560?-82?), son of the Lord Advocate of Scotland, undoubtedly was a good linguist and a ready versifier, had a wonderful memory, and knew philosophy and other fields, but his legendary attainments for which he was termed “Admirable” (first by John Johnston in Heroes Scoti, 1603) may have been largely the invention of Thomas Urquhart and Aldus Manutius. (see En. Br., 7.434-35). Poe probably knew about him through W. H. Ainsworth’s historical novel Crichton (1837) which he mentions in a rev. of Guy Fawkes in the 11/41 Graham’s (H 10.214), and indirectly in M 221 (para. 4). See also refs. in H 10.190 and 11.99, and the annotations in TOM 1324-25, where it is reprinted as a sketch of Poe’s invention. See especially a note referring to Mrs. Whitman’s Poe and His Critics (1860), pp. 25-26 about a similar episode.

apparent) b. The incident fancifully developed by Poe bears a [page 348:] resemblance to a long anecdote given by Charles Caleb Colton in his Lacon (see M 46 [e.g., N. Y. 1832, 2.140-41]), in which the great Greek scholar Richard Porson (1759-1808), noted for his humor, hears a young Oxonian cite a spurious passage from each of the three Greek tragic writers and confounds him by producing from his pocket volumes of their works, until the Oxonian runs off declaring that he must be the Devil or Porson. I retain “armfull” as a deliberate Poe form; compare “brim-full” in M97.

Marginalia 208

A long time ago — twenty-three or four years at least — Edward C. Pinckney, of Baltimore, published an exquisite poem entitled “A Health.” It was profoundly admired by the critical few, but had little circulation: — this for no better reason than that the author was born too far South.(a) I quote a few lines:

Affections are as thoughts to her,

The measures of her hours

Her feelings have the fragrancy,

The freshness of young flowers.

To her the better elements

And kindlier stars have given

A form so fair, that, like the air,

Tis less of Earth than Heaven.(b)

Now, in 1842, Mr. George Hill published “The Ruins of Athens, and Other Poems” — and from one of the “Other Poems” I quote what follows:

And thoughts go sporting through her mind

Like children among flowers;

And deeds of gentle goodness are

The measures of her hours.

In soul or face she bears no trace

Of one from Eden driven,

But like the rainbow seems, though born

Of Earth, a part of Heaven.

Is this plagiarism or is it not? — I merely ask for information.(c)

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South) a. The part of this article which concerns Pinkney is substantively taken from Poe’s “The Poetic Principle” which, although published posthumously, existed as the lecture that he had been giving a [page 349:] few years before his death (H 15. 279-81, specifically). There he reprints all five stanzas of “A Health” (see b. below). Edward Coote Pinkney (1802-28), son of a leading diplomat, was reared in London and Baltimore, practiced law, edited a paper, and published Poems (1825). Poe, who may have met him, knew well his works reminiscent of Byron and Moore, although he consistently wrote “Pinckney,” the spelling of the prominent Charleston family. TOM, who with F. L. Pleadwell, collected even the extant fragments for Life and Works of Pinkney (N. Y., 1926), finds many traces of his works in Poe’s poems (TOM, Poems 61, 63, 12324, 129, 133, 451), and also in most major American poets (TOM and Pleadwell, pp. 85-88). Poe introduces his quotation of the whole poem in “The Poetic Principle” thus: “The taint [sadness] . . . is clearly perceptible even in a poem so full of brilliancy and spirit as the ‘Health’ of. . . Pinckney.” It is followed by this: “It was the misfortune of Mr. Pinckney to have been born too far south. Had he been a New Englander. . . . he would have been ranked as the first of American lyrists, by that magnanimous cabal which has so long controlled the destinies of American Letters, in conducting the thing called ‘The North American Review.“’ Poe seems to be making a general attack here, but Esmeralda Boyle, Biographical Sketches of Distinguished Marylanders (Baltimore, 1877), p. 228, indicates that the NAR for 10125, 21.368 ff. attacked one of the Poems “Rodolph” on moral grounds, while praising the shorter poems. See MM 206, 290 for Poe’s theme.

Heaven) b. Poe means to quote stanza 3 of “A Health” unless he deliberately mixes up different portions of the five-stanza poem. The last four lines really belong to st. 1 (with “whom” for “her”) as its second half and a totally different second half for st. 3. Unintentionally, perhaps, Poe has intensified Hill’s seeming fault by merging two halves of otherwise separate stanzas with borrowed lines.

information) c. Poe had been “saving” this charge against George Hill for some years, after having first voiced it; in the 2/42 Graham’s he published a rev. of The Ruins of Athens on the back cover of the magazine: “Amid a good deal which is trite and imitative, this volume presents many passages of the truest poetry. . . . The ‘Lyrical Pieces’ are very unequal — but one of them called ‘Leila’ we shall be pardoned for quoting. Were it not for a certain resemblance which it bears to Pinkney’s ‘Health,’ we should be tempted to speak . . . in terms of unqualified admiration.” (W. D. Hull records this uncollected item from the rare copy seen, in his dissertation, p. 364.) Poe correctly quotes here the stanza from The Ruins . . . (Boston, 1839), p. 55, save for “measure” in line 4. It is amusing that the sum total of Pinkney’s lines evidenced in Poe’s works is far greater than these (see loci in Poems in a, above). [page 350:]

Marginalia 209

Grace,” says Horace Walpole, “will save any book,” and without it none can live long.”(a) I can never read Mrs. Osgood’s poetry without a strong propensity to ring the changes upon this indefinite word “grace” and its derivatives. About every thing she writes we perceive this indescribable charm; of which, perhaps, the elements are a vivid fancy and a quick sense of the proportionate. “Grace,” however, may be most satisfactorily defined, at least for the present, as “a term applied, in despair, to that class of the impressions of Beauty which admit of no analysis.” Mrs. O. has lately evinced a true imagination, with a “movement” (as Schlegel has it) or energy, of which I have been considering her incapable. Beyond all question the first of American poetesses: — and yet we must judge her less by what she has done than by what she shows ability to do. A happy refinement — an instinctive sense of the pure and delicate — is one of her most noticeable merits. She could accomplish much — very much.(b)

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long) a. All except the first and fifth sentences of this comes from a long sketch written by Poe in tribute to Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood (1811-1850) and published in the 8/49 SLM, drawn chiefly from various reviews and the long “Literati” sketch in the 9/46 Godey’s (H 15.94-107). The prominence of Mrs. Osgood in Poe’s criticism (see PD 69) and the laudation accorded her argue the importance of their relationship. This is well summarized by TOM in Poems 556-57 (see also “Index” for the loci of numerous comments in the text for the poems, seriatim), who concludes it to be platonic and encouraged by Virginia and Mrs. Clemm, although “the most serious in Poe’s life.” Perhaps Poe’s accolade, embodied here, is not otherwise comprehensible to any one who studies her verses. That Poe had already reshaped his “Literati” sketch on her before 4/49 appears clear from his appending to the SLM essay: “Some passages of the above article have appeared in some of our Magazines — in ‘Marginalia,’ etc.”

The Walpole statement (used also in M 259) was taken by Poe from H. B. Wallace’s novel Stanley, 1.118. He probably derived it from Walpoliana, ed. Sharpe (Boston, 1820), letter of 6/26/1785 of Walpole to John Pinkerton, pp. 34-35, para. 2: “Do not . . . imagine that I mean to erect grace into a capital ingredient of writing, but I do believe that it is a perfume that will preserve from putrefaction . . . It is from the charm of grace that I believe some authors . . . obtained part of their renown.”

very much) b. The rest of this para. is a pastiche of excerpts from the SLM as indicated below, with the exceptions noted (refs. are made to the H 13.175-193 text): I can . . . analysis / 13.180 (except for “I cannot speak of Mrs.”); Beyond all . . . poetesses / It is in this irresoluble effect that Mrs. Osgood excels any poetess of her country” (13.180-81); and yet . . . to do / I have spoken. . . on account of what she has actually done than on [page 351:] account of what I perceive in her the ability to do (13.192); A happy . . . merits / the same but ends in “excellences” (13.191); She could accomplish much — very much / a capacity for accomplishing what she has not accomplished, and in all probability never will (13.176). Only the unlocated remark of Schlegel fails to come from this sketch.

Marginalia 210

One of our truest poets is Thomas Buchanan Read. His most distinctive features are, first, “tenderness,” or subdued passion, and secondly, fancy. His sin is imitativeness. At present, although evincing high capacity, he is but a copyist of Longfellow — that is to say, but the echo of an echo.(a) Here is a beautiful thought which is not the property of Mr. Read:

And, where the spring-time sun had longest shone,

A violet looked up and found itself alone.(b)

Here again: a Spirit

Slowly through the lake descended,

Till from her hidden form below

The waters took a golden glow,

As if the star which made her forehead bright

Had burst and filled the lake with light.

Lowell has some lines very similar, ending with

As if a star had burst within his brain.(c)

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echo) a. Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-72), characterized by the Oxford Companion to American Literature as “poetaster and minor painter,” wrote over ten volumes of verse, which were “extravagantly praised” (DAB), although “derivative and unpolished.” From 1853 he lived in Italy. Earlier he seems to have known Poe, even discussing with Browning Poe’s view of the construction of “The Raven” from Mrs. Browning’s suggestion about the “purple curtain” (see TOM 357). Poe borrowed wording from “Christine” (in Graham’s of 12/46) for his own “Ulalume” — in an “evident” parallel according to Hirst and Killis Campbell (TOM 423). Poe’s charges of being derivative if not plagiarizing against Longfellow scarcely need confirmation (see the “Outis” series).

The manuscript of this article was given by John R. Thompson of the SLM to Thomas Dimock, of St. Louis, described by him in Century Magazine, 1887, p. 316. It is listed (no. 122) in the Gimbel Collection, and a facsimile is reprinted in the Yale University Library Gazette of 4/1959, 33.180. A collation shows no changes save for italics inserted for “A violet.”

alone) b. Since Poe does not specify what Read is here echoing, [page 352:] a few guesses are in order: William Habington, “Cascara,” 1634: “Like the violet, which alone / Prospers in some happy shade.” Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh, 1. 294: “Shrinking as violets do in summer’s ray.” Wordsworth, “She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways”: “A violet, by a mossy stone / Half hidden from the eye! / Fair as a star, when only one / Is shining in the sky.” The text in Read’s Poetical Works in 3 vols. (1866) is “Fragments from the Realm of Dreams,” 11. 25-26, 1.129.

brain) c. Here Read’s text is 1.132, 11. 97-101. The line of James Russell Lowell is from “A Legend of Brittany,” Part I, xxiv, 8. Twice Poe accorded the highest rank to this poem by Lowell (in the 3/44 Graham’s; H 11.243, and 3/49 SLM; H 13. 168).

Marginalia 211

I cannot say that I ever fairly comprehended the force of the term “insult,” until I was given to understand, one day, by a member of the “North American Review” clique, that this journal was “not only willing but anxious to render me that justice which had been already rendered me by the ‘Revue Française’ and the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes‘” — but was “restrained from so doing” by my “invincible spirit of antagonism.” I wish the “North American Review” to express no opinion of me whatever — for I have none of it. In the meantime, as I see no motto on its title-page, let me recommend it one from Sterne’s “Letter from France.” Here it is: — “As we rode along the valley we saw a herd of asses on the top of one of the mountains — how they viewed and reviewed us!”

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Note: This is another expression of his contempt for and hostility to the New England group centered in the NAR (see MM 206, 208, 290). There was no journal called Revue Française, clear evidence that Poe is fabricating the “statement” of the NAR about doing Poe ‘justice” (between 1839 and 1855 that journal of Paris did not exist, according to C. P. Cambiaire, Influence of Poe in France [N. Y., 1927], p. 25). But Poe was correct about the praise and seriousness of the critique by E. D. Forgues in the 10/15/46 Revue des Deux Mondes (16.341-66). As in the other “review” refs. (M 145) Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, bk. 6, ch. 1, is meant, despite the source in Wallace’s Stanley, which gives another work.

Marginalia 212

I blush to see, in the —— ——, an invidious notice of Bayard Taylor’s “Rhymes of Travel.” What makes the matter worse, the critique is from the pen of one who, although undeservedly, holds, himself, some position [page 353:] as a poet: — and what makes the matter worst, the attack is anonymous, and (while ostensibly commending) most zealously endeavors to damn the young writer “with faint praise.” In his whole life, the author of the criticism never published a poem, long or short, which could compare, either in the higher merits, or in the minor morals of the Muse, with the worst of Mr. Taylor’s compositions.(a)

Observe the generalizing, disingenuous, patronizing tone: —

“It is the empty charlatan, to whom all things are alike impossible, who attempts every thing. He can do one thing as well as another; for he can really do nothing. . . . Mr. Taylor’s volume, as we have intimated, is an advance upon his previous publication. We could have wished, indeed, something more of restraint in the rhetoric, but,” &c., &c., &c.

The concluding sentence, here, is an excellent example of one of the most ingeniously malignant of critical ruses — that of condemning an author, in especial, for what the world, in general, feel to be his principal merit. In fact, the “rhetoric” of Mr. Taylor, in the sense intended by the critic, is Mr. Taylor’s distinguishing excellence. He is, unquestionably, the most terse, glowing, and vigorous of all our poets, young or old — in point, I mean, of expression. His sonorous, well-balanced rhythm puts me often in mind of Campbell (in spite of our anonymous friend’s implied sneer at “mere jingling of rhymes, brilliant and successful for the moment,”) and his rhetoric in general is of the highest order: — By “rhetoric” I intend the mode generally in which Thought is presented.(b) Where shall we find more magnificent passages than these?

First queenly Asia, from the fallen thrones

Of twice three thousand years,

Came with the woe a grieving Goddess owns

Who longs for mortal tears.

The dust of ruin to her mantle clung

And dimmed her crown of gold,

While the majestic sorrows of her tongue

From Tyre to Indus rolled.

 

Mourn with me, sisters, in my realm of woe

Whose only glory streams

From its lost childhood like the Arctic glow

Which sunless winter dreams.

In the red desert moulders Babylon

And the wild serpent’s hiss

Echoes in Petra’s palaces of stone

And waste Persepolis.

 

Then from her seat, amid the palms embowered

That shade the Lion-land,

Swart Africa in dusky aspect towered,

The fetters on her hand. [page 354:]

Backward she saw, from out the drear eclipse,

The mighty Theban years,

And the deep anguish of her mournful lips

Interpreted her tears.

I copy these passages first, because the critic in question has copied them, without the slightest appreciation of their grandeur — for they are grand; and secondly, to put the question of “rhetoric” at rest. No artist who reads them will deny that they are the perfection of skill in their way. But thirdly, I wish to call attention to the glowing imagination evinced in the lines italicized. My very soul revolts at such efforts, (as the one I refer to,) to depreciate such poems as Mr. Taylor’s. Is there no honor — no chivalry left in the land? Are our most deserving writers to be forever sneered down, or hooted down, or damned down with faint praise, by a set of men who possess little other ability than that which assures temporary success to them, in common with Swaim’s Panacea or Morrison’s pills? The fact is, some person should write, at once, a Magazine paper exposing — ruthlessly exposing, the dessous de caries of our literary affairs. He should show how and why it is that the ubiquitous quack in letters can always “succeed,” while genius, (which implies self-respect, with a scorn of creeping and crawling,) must inevitably succumb. He should point out the “easy arts” by which any one, base enough to do it, can get himself placed at the very head of American Letters by an article in that magnanimous journal, “The —— Review.” He should explain, too, how readily the same work can be induced (as in the case of Simms,) to villify, and villify personally, any one not a Northerner, for a trifling “consideration.” In fact, our criticism needs a thorough regeneration, and must have it.(c)

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compositions) a. Poe’s indignation over the review in the Literary World of 1/13/49, 4.31, and his excessive praise of cited “magnificent passages” below make it likely that he had some ulterior motive in this article (and in a passing ref. to the same rev. in M 290). For lack of full data we must make a few conjectures, but these facts must be borne in mind. Bayard Taylor (1825-78), eventually known as traveler, author, and diplomat, was first encouraged by R. W. Griswold to publish Ximena, a volume of poems (1844), which aided him to secure commissions from several periodicals to travel abroad for two years, sending back letters for the press, before publishing Views A-Foot (1846). The New York Tribune sent him off to California to report on the Gold Rush in dispatches home, and the resultant Eldorado (1850) enhanced his reputation as the adventurous hero. Later he became known for his translation of Faust and a long succession of novels and books of poetry. As the Oxford Companion to American Literature well says: His poems were “versatile,” and “mediocrity stamps all his sonorous but shallow verse.” Similarly, the DAB records the “low quality of his actual achievement”: “a great [page 355:] quantity of mediocre verse and three undistinguished novels.” Why then Poe’s high praise? Taylor was becoming a considerable figure in the literary and journalistic circles of New York in the late 1840s. He was present at the famous Valentine Day’s party, 2/14/48, when Mrs. Whitman’s poem on “The Raven” was read aloud, possibly in Poe’s presence (Woodberry, Poe, 2.267, but M. Hansen-Taylor and H. E. Scudder, Life and Letters of . . . Taylor, 1884,1.115,120, omit mentioning Poe; see Quinn 573). In response, Poe wrote the second “To Helen” in praise of Helen Whitman. According to a Poe letter to Bayard Taylor, now in the Humanities Library, Univ. of Texas, dated 6/15/48, Poe asks Taylor to look over this poem for publication in the Union Magazine of Literature and Art (Ostrom 371). This new, culturally lively journal was now being conducted by the popular Caroline M. Kirkland before John Sartain took it over and shifted it to Philadelphia (Mott, 1.769-71), but there is no evidence of Taylor’s serving as co-editor. In a postscript, Poe apologizes for not thanking Taylor for a complimentary copy of the “picturesque and vigorous Views A-Foot,” received some time in the past. He also was “hoping” to make “your acquaintance.” At a large soirée, such as the Valentine party, he might have missed this chance. It may, however, be one reason that TOM “suspects the validity” of the letter (see Ostrom, “Revised Check List. . .” in SAR 1981, #713 and Poems 444n37. It seems that the letter alone causes Quinn, p. 573, and Mary Phillips, p. 1288, to postulate the editorship of Taylor. On the other hand, some influence, even as reader or editorial advisor, may very properly be hypothesized. In that case, in M 212 Poe would be expressing his gratitude for the publication in 11/48 (3.200).

Poe may have omitted the name, Literary World, out of tact since in 10/48 Evert and George Duyckinck had become publishers and editors of this 1847 journal and it was obviously a friend — a poetaster, as Poe implies below, who had written the review. Upon editing his own papers for later republication — posthumously, as it proved — by his executor (Griswold, probably through the invitation purely of Mrs. Clemm and Sarah Lewis) Poe inserted the identifying title. Poe probably thought or knew that Cornelius Mathews was the writer, and although he had praised Big Abel as an authentic American fable, he had derided Wakondah, a long poem (H 11.25-38; see FS 46). In M 217 Poe levels his weapon at anonymous reviewing. To damn “with faint praise” from Pope’s Epistle to Arbuthnot, 1. 201, is a favorite expression with Poe.

is presented) b. The para. concerning the empty charlatan is, in fact, the end of the third para. of the review, discussing the difference between “a man of genius” and the shallow striver, “en passant.” There is more reason to apply the words on “genius” to Taylor than those that follow. The first para. was devoted to commenting on the fact that several of the “new poems” in the second volume of travels appeared anonymously in “this journal,” being “well received for their spirit and animation.” [page 356:] It is the same, generalized remarks, in para. 2, which contain the sentence about “mere jingling of rhymes” — by no means applicable to Taylor. We are reminded, of course, of Emerson’s remark about “You mean the jingle-man” made years later, as reported by W. D. Howells in Literary Friends, p. 63. The “sense” of the writer here is by no means “invidious,” for in para. 4 he speaks of two groups of poems that could be “pruned” because of “youthful enthusiasm,” by contrast with the poems “of historic painting,” which are “successful.”

must have it) c. The reviewer quotes five stanzas (3-7) of “Continents” from which Poe quotes 1, 2, and 4 from the review, with no changes save for the inserted italics. The reviewer remarks of them: “involving a higher flight. . . . [they] will leave a favorable impression of Mr. Taylor’s powers.” In short, Poe’s dismay at the “sneers” or “hootings” is largely invented, with no correspondence in the text. One asks, also, how this pompous, wordy, flat, cliche-ridden material can be judged to have “perfection of skill.”

Swaim’s Panacea and Morrison’s Pills were two of the patent medicines, many in their characteristic bottles, that were used to dose probably the majority of Americans. Poe derided this national weakness in his “Blackwood Article” (TOM 359n17) and “Mummy” (1195 at n. 40) and “Thingum Bob” (1128-30; see Pollin, on Poe’s use of patent medicines in PN, 1971, 4.30-32). The French term is incorrectly spelled by Poe and also by Griswold and his compositor, being correctly “dessous des cartes” (literally “underside of the cards”) or “secret.” The courted and patronized Taylor is scarcely a suitable original for the “succumbing genius.” The ironically “magnanimous” “Review” is, of course, the North American Review, butt of Poe’s scorn in M 206 (q.v.). A recent example of NAR prejudice was an article on “Humorous and Satirical Poetry” (1/ 49, pp, 183-203), weighted against Southerners.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - BRP2B, 1985] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Marginalia - part 13)