Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. Killis Campbell), “The Canon of Poe's Poems,” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. xxvii-xxxi


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[page xxvii, continued:]

II. THE CANON OF POE’S POEMS

Poe’s poems, as first collected in book form, appeared originally in five successive volumes, extending over a period of twenty-three years.(1) The first of these volumes — Tamerlane and Other Poems — was published at Boston in 1827; the second — Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems — at Baltimore in 1829; the third — entitled simply Poems — at New York in 1831; the fourth — The Raven and Other Poems — at New York in 1845; and the fifth — a collective edition — at New York in 1850 a few months after the poet’s death. The first four volumes were published under Poe’s immediate oversight; the fifth is the edition of Rufus W. Griswold, Poe’s literary executor.(2)

There appeared in these five volumes (hereafter referred to as 1827, 1829, 1831, 1845, and 1850, respectively) a total of forty-eight poems. Ten of these — the first ten in the present edition — made their initial appearance in 1827; seven were first collected in 1829; six in 1831; fourteen in 1845; and eleven in 1850. Of the eleven poems first brought together by Griswold (1850), nine had previously been published by Poe’s authorization and with his name, while the remaining two — The Bells and Annabel Lee — are [page xxviii:] preserved in manuscript copies in the poet’s handwriting and are further authenticated by references to them in his letters.

In addition to these forty-eight poems, there are four others — each of them brief and of little value — that are definitely known to be the work of Poe’s hand. These are: Latin Hymn (a translation) and Song of Triumph, both embodied in the tale Four Beasts in One; and two juvenile skits, Elizabeth and An Acrostic, written by the poet in the album of his cousin, Elizabeth Herring. There are also several scraps of verse scattered among Poe’s critical essays;’ and fragments of a poem entitled The Beautiful Physician have survived.(2) Much of Poe’s abortive drama Politian, it should be added, still remains in manuscript.

Besides these fully authenticated items — fifty-two in all — there are fourteen other poems that have been ascribed to Poe on grounds that are more or less plausible, though none of them have as yet been completely authenticated as his. These are: 1) Oh Tempora! Oh Mores! some very commonplace verses, said to have been composed by Poe while a young man in Richmond;(3) 2) Alone, a fragment found in an autograph album in Baltimore and strongly resembling Poe’s early style; 3) A West [page xxix:] Point Lampoon, directed against one of the minor officers at the United States Military Academy who had aroused the poet’s displeasure; 4) Lines to Louisa, some crude verses perhaps inspired by the poet’s scorn of the second Mrs. Allan; 5) Spiritual Song, a skit of three lines discovered in manuscript in the desk used by Poe while editing the Southern Literary Messenger;(1) 6) The Great Man, likewise found in Poe’s desk in a manuscript believed to be in his handwriting, but extremely crude and halting;(2) 7) To Sarah, a poem which appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger in August, 1835, above the pseudonym “Sylvio”; 8) Ballad, published anonymously in the Southern Literary Messenger for the same month; 9) a fragment of a campaign song said to have been written by Poe during a visit to New York in 1843 or 1844; 10) Impromptu: To Kate Carol, four lines printed in the Broadway Journal in March, 1845, and inspired by Mrs. Osgood; 11) The Departed, printed in the Broadway Journal for July 12, 1845;(3) 12) The Divine Right of Kings, printed in Graham’s Magazine for October, 1845; 13) Stanzas, published in Graham’s Magazine for December, 1845; and (14) a poem subscribed with Poe’s initials and published in an obscure periodical, The Symposia, at Providence, in 1848.(4)

Three other poems that have been attributed to Poe, but on evidence that is extremely slender, are: 1) Enigma, first published in the Philadelphia Casket in May, 1827, and later copied, with minor changes, in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in May, 1840; 2) The Skeleton Hand, published in the Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette in August, 1829; and 3) The Magician, published in the same magazine in December, 1829.(5) [page xxx:]

The list of poems given to Poe in error include the following: 1) several short pieces signed “Edgar” contained in a volume of miscellaneous articles in prose and verse edited by Elizabeth Chase and published at Baltimore in 1821; 2) Hymn in Honor of Harmodius and Aristogiton, a translation published in the Southern Literary Messenger for December, 1835 (II, p. 38), anaattributed to Poe by several of his editors, but claimed by Lucian Minor in the Messenger for March, 1848 (XIV, p. 185); 3) Hood’s sonnet, Silence, published by Poe in Burton’s Magazine (V, p. 144) above his own initial;(1) 4) four short poems by A. M. Ide tentatively attributed to Poe on the theory that “ Ide” was perhaps a pseudonym used by Poe; 5) The Mammoth Squash, a hoax at Poe’s expense, published in the Philadelphia Aristidean for October, 1845; 6) Lavante, a satire in verse, attributed to Poe in the belief that it was the critical treatise on American writers on which Poe was at work in the forties, but which was never published as such;(2) 7) a parody of The Raven by Harriet Winslow; 8) a fragment of Mrs. Lewis’s poem, The Forsaken; 9) Lilitha, in imitation of Ulalume, written by F. G. Fairfield; 10) The Fire-Fiend, an imitation at once of The Bells and of The Raven, composed by C. D. Gardette; 11) Leonainie, an early poem of James Whitcomb Riley’s; and 12) Rupert and Madelon, a fragment of Mrs. Osgood’s Woman’s Trust, a Dramatic Sketch.(3)

It is possible that other poems besides those now ascribed to Poe will ultimately be brought to light, but it is not likely that [page xxxi:] they will include anything of importance. There is a tradition that Poe exhibited to a Richmond schoolmaster, in 1823, a manuscript volume of verses,(1) which he wished Mr. Allan to have published; but these — granting the tradition to be true- — were probably either worked over for the volume of 1827 or discarded. He is said to have delivered an ode of his own composition on the retirement of Master Clarke as principal of his school in Richmond in 1823;(2) and there is mention of a youthful satire on the members of a debating society in Richmond with which he was connected,(3) and of some lines To Mary, published in a Baltimore newspaper early in the thirties.(4)


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxvii:]

1 Most of the poems were first published in magazines and newspapers before being collected in book form; see the bibliographical list prefixed to each of the poems in the Notes. For a bibliography of the poems, giving only the place of first publication (together with a similar bibliography of the tales and of the most important essays, with a partial list of the books and articles about Poe), the reader is referred to the forthcoming Cambridge History of American Literature.

2 Published, together with certain essays and tales, in the second volume of Griswold’s edition of Poe’s works. Further particulars as to these several editions are given in the Appendix.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxviii:]

1 These include a free paraphrase of a passage from Drake’s Culprit Fay (Harrison, VIII, p. 294); a translation of two lines from Corneille (ibid., XIV, p. 44); and three lines by way of burlesquing the meter of Evangeline (ibid., XIV, p. 264). Here also may be mentioned some scattering lines composed by Poe in connection with the criticism and revision of Mrs. S. A. Lewis’s poems (cf. an article by J. H. Ingram, in the Albany Review, July, 1907), and certain improvements suggested by him in one of Mrs. Browning’s poems (Harrison, XIII, p. 201).

2 See the article contributed to the New York Bookman for January 1909 (XXVIII, pp. 453 f.), by J. H. Ingram.

3 First published in the No Name Magazine of October, 1889 (I, p. i), by E. L. Didier, who later claimed (see Whitty, p. 165) that the manuscript of the poem had been given to him by John R. Thompson. The prefatory statement accompanying the poem as first printed by Didier is untrustworthy as to dates: the assertion is there made that the lines were written by Poe “at the age of seventeen” — then, in 1826 — and that they had been in the hands of John W. MacKenzie of Richmond “for more than half a century” before coming into the hands of Thompson — but Thompson died in 1873.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxix:]

1 See Whitty, pp. 138, 283 f.

2 Ibid., pp. 143, 285 f.

3 Attributed to Poe by Thomas Holley Chivers (see the Waverley Magazine, July 30, 1853).

4 For further particulars as to these items see the Notes.

5 See, for a statement of the grounds for doubting the genuineness of these items, an article by the present editor, entitled “The Poe Canon,” in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, September, 1912 (XXVII, pp. 325-353).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxx:]

1 See the New York Nation for December 30, 1909, and January 20, 1910.

2 See p. xxiv, above.

3 See the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, XXVII, pp. 329 f., for further particulars as to most of these items. The fragment from Mrs. Osgood was included by J. P. Kennedy in Autograph Leaves of our Country’s Authors, Baltimore, 1864. Among other items that have been ascribed to Poe are two pieces of doggerel, Kelah and The Murderer, variously attributed to Poe in American periodical publications about 1890, and a not unclever hoax, My Soul, composed by a student of the University of Virginia (see the Richmond Times-Dispatch for January 17, 1909).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page xxxi:]

1 Didier, p. 31; Mrs. Weiss, pp. 45 f.

2 Didier, p. 33.

3 Ingram, p. 24.

4 Harper’s Monthly Magazine, March, 1889 (LXXVIII, pp. 634 f.). See also Woodberry, II, p. 414, and Publications of the Modern Language Association, XXVII, pp. 349 f.

 


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Notes:

None.

 

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[S:0 - KCP, 1917] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - The Canon of Poe's Poems (ed. K. Campbell, 1917)