Text: Anonymous (and E. A. Poe), “[Notice of Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems],” clipping from an unidentified Baltimore newspaper, about May 1830



The question has been often propounded, “why has not America produced a great Poet?” It has been met, and logically answered, by a reference to local causes. No one has pretended to doubt, except our transatlantic brothers, that the talent exists, although unfortunately, not as yet developed. The time is anxiously expected, when some great being shall arise, who will delight his astonished and admiring countrymen by an Epic in twelve or twenty four books, or some “Course of Time” in ten or twenty, or even a more ignoble effusion in a dozen or more Cantos. But having in view this high standard forth of high and genuine worth. “The feathered songsters,” “the glistening dew drops,” “the secret sigh and whisper in the dark,” “the warbling woodlands and resounding shores, and all the pomp and garniture of fields,” “the flitting shades,” “the pearly tear,” “the shadowless spirits,” and annoying Cupid,” all have been sung by the poets of our favored Country in strains truly admirable.

Our object, at present, is to offer our tribute of admiration and regard to the Author of “A [[Al]] Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and MINOR Poems,” which have recently been issued from the press in this city. We view the production as highly creditable to the Country. Throughout, there runs a rich vein of deep and powerful thought, clothed in language of almost inimitable beauty and harmony. His fancy is rich and of an elevated cast; his imagination powerfully creative. There is no laboured attempt at effect; no immoderate use of epithets; no over-burdening the idea with words, no cant, no nonsense. We are well aware of the force of those beautiful lines, of Beattie,

“Oh, who can tell how hard it is to climb,

The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar;”

but we would bid the accomplished Author, be of good cheer, He has indeed “wakened to extacy the living lyre,” and we trust, that he will continue to sound its strings. Indeed we demand that he continue his efforts, for the Public have a lawful and irresistible claim upon the direction of the talent.

We will quote a few extracts for the purpose of convincing our readers, that what we have said, has not been the result of blinded partiality or mistaken judgement.

O! nothing earthly save the ray

(Thrown back from flowers) of Beauty's eye,

As in those gardens where the day

Springs from the gems of Circassy —

O! nothing earthly save the thrill

Of melody in woodland rill —

Or (music of the passion-hearted)

Joy's voice so peacefully departed

That like the murmur in the shell,

Its echo dwelleth and will dwell

With nothing of the dross of ours —

Yet all the beauty — all the flowers

That list our Love, and deck our bowers

Adorn yon world afar, afar —

The wandering star —

'Twas a sweet time for Nesace — for there

Her world lay lolling on the golden air,

p. p. 13-14

Who is there who cannot admire the beauty of the whole extract? The sublimity of the figure contained in the last line would redeem a multitude of faults. But to continue: —

Ligeia! wherever

Thy image may be

No magic shall sever

Thy music from thee:

Thou hast bound many eyes

In a dreamy sleep —

But the strains still arise

Which thy vigilance keep —

The sound of the rain

Which leaps down to the flower,

And dances again

In the rhythm of the shower —

The murmur that springs

From the growing of grass

Are the music of things —

But are modell'd, alas! —

p. p. 30[[-]]31

I do believe that Eblis hath

A snare in ev'ry human path —

Else how, when in the holy grove

I wandered of the idol, Love,

Who daily scents his snowy wings

With incense of burnt offerings

From the most unpolluted things,

Where pleasant bowers are yet so riven

Above with trelliced rays from Heaven

No mote may shun — no tiniest fly

The light'ning of his eagle eye —

How was it that Ambition crept,

Unseen, amid the revels there,

Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt

In the tangles of Love's very hair?

p. 54

We will quote a beautiful description of FAIRYLAND. Its conception is truly grand, and its versification highly ingenious. We would refer particularly to the sixth line.

Dim vales — and shadowy floods —

And cloudy-looking woods,

Whose forms we can’t discover

For the tears that drip all over.

Huge moons there wax and wane —

Again — again — again —

Ev'ry moment of the night —

For ever changing places —

And they put out the star-light

With the breath from their pale faces;

About twelve by the moon-dial

One, more filmy than the rest

(A kind which, upon trial,

They have found to be the best)

Comes down — still down — and down

With its centre on the crown

Of a mountain's eminence,

While its wide circumference

In easy drapery falls

Over hamlets, and rich halls,

Wherever they may be —

O’er the strange woods — o’er the sea —

Over spirits on the wing

Over every drowsy thing —

And buries them up quite

In a labyrinth of light —

And then, how deep! O! deep!

Is the passion of their sleep.

p. p. 69-70

We would continue our extracts, were we not admonished that we are exceeding our proper limits. But we think that what we have presented to our readers, will satisfactorily convince them, that the work is of no ordinary nature. That it merits all the praises which we have bestowed upon it, we cannot think that there will be any hesitation, and we trust that the author will receive that pecuniary remuneration which he so richly merits, and which we are confident a public, when once it has examined the foundation of his claims, will cheerfully and amply confer.



This review is reproduced from a clipping that was preserved by a photostat in the J. H. Whitty collection in the library of Duke University. While it is impossible to be certain, the clipping appears to have been taken from a single long column. It was reproduced by Randolph W. Church in “Al Aaraaf and the Unknown Critic,” Virginia Calalcade, Vol. V, no. 1, Summer, 1955, pp. 6-7. The original of the clipping may be in the State Library of Virginia, in Richmond.


[S:0 - clipping (photostat), 1830] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Notice of Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (Anonymous, 1830)