Text: Anonymous (and E. A. Poe), “[Review of Poems of E. A. Poe],” the Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette, December, 1829, pp. 295-298


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[page 2, continued:]

Poems by Edgar A. Poe. New-York. Elam Bliss (second edition,) page 124. — This is evidently a fellow of fine genius, but if one were disposed to believe to the contrary, and to sustain his belief, he need with for nothing more than a passage or two, taken hap hazard from the book — as for example:

TO IRENE.

“ ’Tis now, (so sings the soaring moon)

Midnight in the sweet month of June,

When winged visions love to lie

Lazily upon beauty’s eye,

Or worse, upon her brow to dance

In panoply of old Romance,

Till thoughts and lock are left alas!

A ne’er-to-be untangled mass.

Sheer nonsense, undoubtedly, yet as undoubtedly the author has the gift, and betrays the presence, here and there, that cannot be mistaken — for example:

TO HELEN.

Helen thy beauty is to me

Like those Nicean barks of Yore,

That gently, o’er a perfum’d sea,

The weary way-worn traveller bore

To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,

Thy hyacinth hair, thy classicface [[classic face]],

Thy naiad airs have brought me home

To the beauty of fair Greece,

And the grandeur of old Rome.

Lo in that little window niche

How statue-like I see thee stand!

The folded scroll within thy hand —

A Psyche from the regions which

Are Holy Land!”

And again — read the following sonnet, and then marvel at the strangeness of the mixture. Pure poetry in one page — pure absurdity in another —

[[“Sonnet — To Science]]

“Science meet daughter of old Time thou art

Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes!

Why prey’st thou thus upon the poet’s heart,

Vulture! whose wings are dull realities!

How should he love thee — or how deem thee wise

Who would’st not leave him in his wandering,

To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies

Albeit he soars with an undaunted wing?

Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car

And driven the Hamadryad from the wood

To seek a shelter in some happier star!

The gentle Naiad from her fountain flood?

The Elfin from the green grass? And from me

The summer dream beneath the shrubbery!”

But we are sick of poetry — so sick of it indeed, that we should not have meddled with this, but for a wish to prevent a young man — the author must be young, for there is the fever and the flush, and the strong delusion of youth about him, if not boyhood — from betraying himself unworthily. He has a fine genius, we repeat it, and may be distinguished, if he will not mistake oddity for excellence, or want of similitude to all others, for superiority over them. We have said as much to the confederacy of small poets around us, and they dont [[don’t]] like our candour.

 


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Notes:

Benjamin Lease, in That Wild Fellow John Neal and the American Literary Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972, p. 132) attributes this review to John Neal. He does not explain this choice, but it may be due to the fact that the biographical article in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum (1843), for which Poe at least supplied information, states that Neal reprinted “Sonnet to Science,” which does not appear in the other reviews or notices by Neal. Even if Poe did suspect that Neal was the author, it should be noted that Poe could be wrong on this point.

 

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[S:0 - NYMCE (microfilm), 1831] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Review of Poems of 1831