Text: Charles Norton, “The Genius of Edgar A. Poe,” Waverley Magazine (Boston, MA), vol. XXI, no. 5, July 29, 1865, p. 72, cols. 2-3


[page 72, column 2, continued:]



IN reading and contemplating the works of this writer we are at once struck by the sad and melancholy vein that pervades nearly all of his writings. Who has read the mournful dirge of Ulalume, or the sad lament of Annabel Lee, without emotions of the deepest, saddest kind? There seems to linger around these two poems a something strange and mysterious; the more we read them the more deeply are we interested. Listen:

“And we passed to the end of the vista,

But were stopped by the door of a tomb —

By the door of a legend tomb:

And I said — what is written, sweet sister,

On the door of this legend tomb?

She replied — Ulalume — Ulalume —

’Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Or again, listen to the sad notes as he sings of his lost Annabel:

“For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.”

Read the “Raven” but once, and its dark wings will forever flit around your imagination in your fitful moments of gloom and despondency, and its harsh forbodings, “Nevermore,” will haunt you like an unforgotten crime.

Notwithstanding the severity of George Gilflllan, and the harsh criticism of Rufus Wilmot Griswold on his private character, the name of Poe is still revered by every lover of good poetry. His deep analytical powers and breadth of imagination were unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries.

His criticisms and reviews were marked by the most thorough searching and investigation; not even the slightest grammatical error escaped his notice. He was no parasite, but had his own peculiar opinions, and did not court the society and learning of others for the purpose of plagiarism; hence the wholesale vituperations upon his writings and personal character.

It is a singular but very noticeable fact that all those who have aimed at the literary, fame of Poe have used his excesses as a means of diverting the [column 3:] public mind from its praise and esteem of his great genius. This is unjust and unchivabic, showing the weakness and envious disposition of any writer who uses it as a means of metalling the reputation of his contemporary.

One of Poe’s most bitter revilers was James Russell Lowell, who, in his “Fables for Critics,” notices him as follows :

“There comes Poe with his Raven, like Barnaby Budge,

Three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge;

Who talks like a book of iambs and pentameters,

In a way to make people of common sense damn metres.”

We turn now to the grave of Poe and the ingratitude of his countrymen; at least, those of his native city, Baltimore. His remains lie in the rear of Westminster church, corner of Fayette and Green streets in that city, without the slightest mark whereby to tell the exact spot in which he was buried. You look in vain for some one to point out the grave, for they all give the same answer, “Unknown.” His burial place may be forgotten, but the productions of his remarkable genius will live as long as literature itself.








[S:0 - WM, 1865] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - The Genius of Edgar A. Poe (Charles Norton, 1865)