Text: Anonymous, “[[An]] Estimate of Poe,” Home Journal (New York, NY), vol. for 1850, no. 6, February 2, 1850, p. 4, col. 5


[page 4, column 5:]



A paper in which we see many good things (the Newark Daily Advertiser) gives the following estimate of Poe, which we give from its cleverness, without agreeing with it: —

“Fortunate is Genius to live in the nineteenth century — how fortunate to die in it! For this is to live again, at once, if not forever; immediate resurrection following such a demise, as surely as day follows night. Scarce has the knell for Edgar A. Poe reverberated — through his own ‘Bells’ — from North to South, ere he appears before us smiling recognition from his large, intellectual eyes, living and breathing in his works, presented by a trio of literary friends, whose introductory letters alone would secure him a positive welcome, even were not his own claims such as they are.

“That Mr. Poe had genius cannot be doubted; that it was of remarkable character and tendency, all who knew him personally testify, and all who become acquainted with him through these volumes will be convinced of it. He seems to have possessed more of that subtle imaginative power which startles, conjures, excites, tortures, than any writer of modern times. His pen acts like a wand on the brain, calling up spirits from its ‘vasty deep;’ while the demon in his own mind is concealed. His great strength lies in his head, and affects the head — not the heart. How different from Mr. Longfellow, whose intellect and sympathies flow together so harmoniously — whose melody lingers in the mind, while his thoughts nestle to the heart — at once delighting the ear, and cherishing the gentler affections!

“Mr. Poe's writings haunt the imagination, but never exalt it. ‘A thing of horror is a pain ‘forever,’ and such are his creations; yet their very tenacity of life proves that they are vital with genius. Whoever reads his ‘Raven,’ forgets it nevermore.’ Its dark wings may disappear for a time ; but will return again and brood over the mind, hatching winged fancies — birds of night, like itself. And so with most of the author's poems; they do not refresh us, as the pure waters of Helicon should do; but leave the mind feverish, or exhausted from over-excitement.

“Some of the tales in these volumes give even a more vivid impression of the writer's genius than his poetry. Indeed, he has scarce written anything that may not excite wonder and admiration, either for its supernatural life, or striking organization; yet we cannot agree with some of his reviewers, who believe he was an artist. True Art conceals its processes, and to our eye there is ever apparent in Mr. Poe's poems a laborious mechanism, that prevents a hearty enjoyment of the melody wrought out, rather than brought out, in such verses as his Bells there is in them a designed trickery on the ear — not the soul-melody that vibrates on the heart. This attention to the structure of his verse, occupying so much time, is doubtless one cause of his having written so little poetry; while his prose writings occupy one of these volumes entire, and two-thirds of the other.”







[S:0 - NYHJ, 1850] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Estimate of Edgar Poe (Anonymous, 1850)