Text: “P”, “Edgar A. Poe,” Daily Evening Transcript (Boston, MA), October 18, 1845, p. 2, col. 2


[page 2, column 2, continued:]

EDGAR A. POE. In our paper of yesterday we referred to the poem of this gentleman before the Lyceum, without attempting to analyze his capacity as a writer either of prose or of poetry. The following communication from a correspondent who was present at the late anniversary celebration makes good our omission. . . .

MR POE. On Thursday evening, for the first time, we had a taste of this gentleman's quality in a poem delivered before the Boston Lyceum. Mr Poe introduced his poem with a sort of apologetic preface, the chief merit of which was its great length. His idea of poetry as developed in his introduction, is, like his poetry itself, certainly very novel; and, as according to his theory, there never has been and never can be any such thing as originality, novelty is of course the best thing we can expect, and Mr Poe is evidently entitled to a place amongst the princes of our literature. All who have heard him must confess that he has more of novelty and less of originality than any other writer of any distinction living. We differ somewhat from this new poet and philosopher; and should be inclined to classify writers under the heads of original, sensible and novel, giving Mr Poe any place he may choose in the latter class, and not believing he would accept of a place in either of the others. A man may obviously be original (if there be any such thing as originality) in the utterance of truth, how old soever that truth may be; and, on the other hand, as most truth is somewhat old, we naturally seek for novelty beyond as below the region of truth. All this is admirably exemplified in Mr Poe. Indeed, his theory of poetry is that it has nothing to do with truth, and is concerned only with beauty; that it is not addressed to the intellect at all, but only to the taste. Whether his theory be devised to explain his poetry, or his poetry be written to exemplify his theory, certainly no one will question the intimate correspondence between them. His poetry, accordingly, has neither truth nor falsehood in it; is not chargeable indeed, with having any ideas whatever; but is simply beautiful. His poem of Thursday evening, at whatever age it may have been written, and for what purpose soever he may have given it in Boston, was fully equal to anything we have ever seen from him.

Mr Poe's system of criticism is adequate and applicable to nobody's poetry but his own. No poetry, we presume, but his has ever been written of which his criticisms can give the solution; or, if written, it has not survived the day of its birth. As a critic, indeed, his chief merit is that “he puts himself for all mankind” and writes for nobody's sense or understanding but his own. Mr Poe, we are told, has a great horror of plagiarism. It is about the only literary vice of which he is guilty, and no one can charge him with plagiarism without charging somebody else. All his productions are eminently new; he abounds in “novel combinations,” and all of them are replete with the same kind of life as a watch. *P*.




In the original printing, the publishers adopted the convention of not providing a period whenever “Mr” is used.



[S:0 - DET, 1845] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Edgar A. Poe (*P*, 1845)