Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Review of New Books” [Text-02], Graham’s Magazine, April 1842, pp. 248-254


[page 248, unnumbered, full page:]


[column 1:]

[Review of Longfellow’s Ballads]

[page 251, column 2, continued]

Ideals and other Poems, by Algernon. Henry Perkins: Philadelphia.

Externally, this is a beautiful little volume, in which Mr. Longfellow’s “Ballads “ just noticed are imitated with close precision. Internally, no two publications could be more [page 252, misnumbered as 254:] different. A tripping prettiness, in thought and expression, is all to which the author of “Ideals” may claim. There is much poetry in his book, but none of a lofty order. The piece which gives name to the volume, is an unimpressive production of two pages and a half. The longest article is a tame translation of a portion of Gothe’s “Torquato Tasso.” The best, is entitled “Preaching in the Woods,” and this would bear comparison at some points with many of our most noted American poems. There are also twelve lines seemingly intended as a sonnet, and prefacing the book — twelve lines of a sweet and quaint simplicity. The general air of the whole is nevertheless commonplace. It has nothing, except its mechanical execution, to distinguish it from the multitudinous ephemera with which our national poetical press is now groaning.

As regards the minor morals of the Muse, the author is either uninformed or affected. He is especially fond of unusual accents; and this, at least, is a point in which novelty produces no good or admissible effect. He has consequently such words as “accord” and “resource” — utter abominations. He is endeavoring too, and very literally, to render confusion worse confounded by the introduction into poetry of Carlyle’s hyper-ridiculous elisions in prose. Here, for example, where the pronoun “he” is left to be understood:

Now the fervent preacher rises,

And his theme is heavenly love,

Tells how once the blessed Saviour

Left his throne above.

His roughness is frequently reprehensible. We meet every where, or at least far too often, with lines such as this —

Its clustered stars beneath Spring’s footsteps meets

in which the consonants are more sadly clustered than the stars. The poet who would bring uninterruptedly together such letters as t h s p and r, has either no ear at all, or two unusually long ones. The word “footsteps,” moreover, should never be used in verse. To read the line quoted, one must mouth like Forrest and hiss like a serpent.

[Review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told tales]

[page 254, column 2, continued:]

A Translation of Jacobs’ Greek Reader, (adapted to all the editions printed in America) for the use of Schools, Academies, Colleges, and Private Learners; with Copious Notes, Critical and Explanatory: illustrated with numerous Parrallel [[Parallel]] Passages and Apposite Quotations from the Greek, Latin, French, English, Spanish, and Italian Languages: and a Complete Parsing Index; Elucidated by References to the most Popular Greek Grammars Extant: By Patrick S. Casserly, author of “A New Literal Translation of Longinus” &c. W. E. Dean: New York.

We give this title in full, as affording the best possible idea of the character of the work. Nothing is left for us to say, except that we highly approve the use of literal translations. In spite of all care, these will be employed by students, and thus it is surely an object to furnish reputable versions. Mr. Casserly is, perhaps, chargeable with inflation and Johnsonism as regards his own style — a defect from which we have never know one of his profession free. The merit of his translations, however, is unquestionable.



The attribution of the two reviews given here is highly probable, although not absolutely certain. Both were considered to be the work of Poe by Heartman and Canny (1943), and attributed to Poe by T. O. Mabbott and William D. Hull. Mabbott’s notes at the University of Iowa list the review of Algernon as “sure,” and the review of Casserly as “accept.” Hull also attributes the review of Algernon to Poe as certain, based partly on the reference, in the first sentence, to the notice of Longfellow. Overall, the review carries Poe’s usual tone. As for the review of Casserly, Hull says, “The position of this nine-line notice is really sufficient to assure its place in the canon. . . .” Hull also mentions the use of the word “Johnsonism,” referring to an inflated style of writing, a word which Poe used on several other occasions.


[S:0 - GM, 1842] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Review of New Books [Text-02]