Text: Elizabeth Barrett Barrett to E. A. Poe — April 1846


5 Wimpole St., April, 1846.

Dear Sir, — Receiving a book from you seems to authorize or at least encourage me to try to express what I have felt long before — my sense of the high honor you have done me in [[illegible]] your country and of mine, of the dedication of your poems. It is too great a distinction, conferred by a hand of too liberal generosity. I wish for my own sake I were worthy of it. But I may endeavour, by future work, to justify a little what I cannot deserve anywise, now. For it, meanwhile, I may be grateful — because gratitude is the virtue of the humblest.

After which imperfect acknowledgment of my personal obligation may I thank you as another reader would thank you for this vivid writing, this power which is felt! Your “Raven” has produced a sensation, a “fit horror,” here in England. Some of my friends are taken by the fear of it and some by the music. I hear of persons haunted by the “Nevermore,” and one acquaintance of mine who has the misfortune of possessing a “bust of Pallas” never can bear to look at it in the twilight. I think you will like to be told our great poet, Mr. Browning, the author of “Paracelsus,” and the “Bells and Pomegranates,” was struck much by the rhythm of that poem.

Then there is a tale of yours (“The Case of M. Valdemar”) which I do not find in this volume, but which is going the round of the newspapers, about mesmerism, throwing us all into “most admired disorder,” and dreadful doubts as to whether “it can be true,” as the children say of ghost stories. The certain thing in the tale in question is the power of the writer, and the faculty he has of making horrible improbabilities seem near and familiar.

And now will you permit me, dear Mr. Poe, as one who though a stranger is grateful to you, and has the right of esteeming you though unseen by your eyes will you permit me to remain

Very truly yours always,
Elizabeth Barrett Barrett.





[S:0 - 1846] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - E. B. Barrett to Poe (RCL630)