Text: George Pope Morris, “[Review of The Raven and Other Poems],” Evening Mirror (New York), vol. III, no. 349, November 21, 1845, p. 2, col. 3-4


[page 2, column 3, continued:]

Literary Notices.

The Raven and other Poems. By Edgar A. Poe. — Wiley & Putnam's Library of American Books. — No. VIII. 31 cents.

In spite of Mr. Poe's majestic disclaimer of any great interest in this book, we must venture to think it contains a good deal of that which we call poetry — an element too rare in these days of frigid verse-making to be treated with disregard. Whatever makes the heart beat quicken and the eyes fill, bringing before the mind in flitting pictures, the scenes and feelings of the past — calling up from the depth of memory the freshness so long departed from the present — must possess an essence very different from that which pervades much of that would-be poetry of the day. This last is like our pyramids of ice-cream — sweet enough, and delicately rose-tiated [[rose-tinted]]; but forced into shape and there frozen, and desperately flat if you try to restore it to its original condition to ascertain its ingredients. Mr. Poe's creations are more like firelight reviews,

Where glowing embers through the room

Teach light to counterfeit the gloom —

the very light to see sheeted ghosts by, and to fancy that the loved and lost

Come and take the vacant chair.

Tall shadows and a sighing silence seem to close around us as we read. We feel dream-land to be more and more touching than the actual life we had left, and not the unpleasing sadness of the spirit, a better test of the poet's power than all the formal criterions that were ever penned. “The Raven,” for instance, which we have been surprised to hear called, in spite of its exquisite versification, somewhat aimless and unsatisfactory, leaves us with no such impression; but on the contrary, the shadowy and indistinct implied resemblance of the material and immaterial throughout, gives an indescribable charm to the poem, producing just the effect upon the imagination that the author designed artistically to produce. The reader who cannot feel some of the poet's “fantastic terrors,” hear the “whisper’d word, LENORE,” perceive the air grow denser “perfum’d from an unseen censer,” and at last catch some dim vanishing glimpse of

“The rare and radiant maiden”

mourned so agonisingly, can have pondered but little over those “quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore” which so well introduce this “stately raven of the saintly days of yore.” We recommend to him a year's regimen of monkish legends, and chronicles with which Wharton and Scott fed the poetic fire, and from which no bard of modern times has disdained to draw elements of power and passion. [column 4:]

The ballad of “Lenore” is in the same tone — a wild wail, melancholy, as the sound of the clarion to the captive knight who knew that its departing tones bore with them his last earthly hope. “Mariana” is not more intensely mournful. The “Peccavimus,” the passing bell, the hair natural and life-like above closed eyes hollow with the death — change — leave pictures and echoes within the heart, which allows no doubt as to the power of the poet.

The remainder of the poems in this neat volume we shall leave to the regular critic with his foot-rule and his metronome; “simple, passionate and sensuous,” Coleridge's list of poetic requisites, all must allow to apply to Mr Poe's verses; and although it is true that in one's own country one must not expect much honor, yet he is right, and those who read to enjoy rather than to criticise, will not disappoint him. Thus much is bare justice to the author, whose pardon we entreat if we have offended him by “paltry commendation.”







[S:0 - NYEM, 1845] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Review of The Raven and Other Poems (G. P. Morris, 1845)