Text: James L. Onderdonk, “The Lyric Poet of America,” Mid-Continent Magazine, vol. VI, no. 2, June 1895, pp. 166-173


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[page 166, continued:]

THE LYRIC POET OF AMERICA.

BY JAMES L. ONDERDONK.

[column 1:]

THE publication of a new and definitive edition of Poe’s works is an important event in our literature. So-called “complete editions” of this writer have been published before, but none that in accuracy, completeness or judicious editing can equal the one now appearing under the supervision of Messrs. Edmund Clarence Stedman and George Woodberry. The two editors bring to bear ideal requirements for such a task. Not that any new information of importance is contained in Mr. Woodberry’s sketch of the poet prefixed to the first volume. Probably all that will ever be known with certainty about Poe had already been published, Mr. Woodberry’s previously written biography is a sclear and judicial a statement of the erratic poet’s life as is likely to appear in this generation. Readers of to-day require, above all things, truth and candor on the part of a biographer, regardless of personal sympathies or prejudices. Such a biographer Mr. Woodberry has proved himself to be. Mr. Stedman, as a critic of Poe’s genius, also appears in a familiar mile, though [column 2:] hitherto his essays upon that topic have had reference to Poe as a poet rather than romancer. Few will dispute Mr. Stedman’s assertion concerning “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque,” that “taken together they are the fullest exhibit of their author’s genius, if not the highest.” As might have been expected from our foremost living man of letters, the criticism of Poe as a romancer is discriminating and exhaustive. Yet, after all, it is as a poet that Poe is steadily gaining in popular favor, however much critics may contend as to the comparative merits of his prose and verse.

If the true characteristic of lyric, as distinguished from epic poetry, lies in in its subjectivity, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was unquestionably our greatest lyric poet. Even in his unsuccessful narrative poems, “Al Aaraaf,” and “Tamerlane,” and in his still more unsuccessful dramatic effort, “Politian,” he finds it impossible to repress his individual feelings and emotions. But it is not with such experiments that the fame of Poe is to be associated. [page 167:] Like Coleridge before him and Bryant contemporaneously with him, he expressed his distrust of “long poems,” believing about a hundred lines to be the proper extreme limit of any metrical effort. As applied to his own capabilities, Poe’s theory was undoubtedly correct. In his poetry his lyric verse alone bears the stamp of true genius, and it is as a lyrist only that he is to be considered our most original poet. But even his case is not an exception to the general rule that there is no modern singer in whose verse cannot be discerned echoes of other voices.

Poe’s English biographer, Mr. John H. Ingram, very properly questions the accuracy of the assertion made to Robert Browning by T. Buchanan Read, that Poe had admitted that the suggestion of “The Raven” lay wholly in a single line of Mrs. Browning. Yet Poe’s admiration of this most gifted songstress is evident to one who will carefully study the verse of both. Mr. Browning’s copy of Poe’s poems has passed into my possession, and is especially prized because of the note written on a fly-leaf in the English poet’s own hand, as follows: “Given to Mrs. Benzon, partly on account of the poetry, partly on that of the dedication at page thirty-three — with all affectionate wishes of Robert Browning, March 7, 1867.” The dedication referred to is the familiar one to Mrs. Browning, then Miss Barrett, whose genius Poe was among the first to appreciate, as the Brownings were among the first Europeans who really understood Poe.

Probably no American author has been more discussed than Edgar A. Poe. His strong personality, marked individuality and manly independence, his incorruptible loyalty to his art, and the sharply defined and contrasted traits of his character, appeal at once to the student of human nature. The biographies of Poe are so numerous that the chief outlines of his life are familiar to all who have taken an intelligent interest in his works. Born in Boston, he fairly hated his native city. A Southerner by inheritance and adoption, he chose, after [column 2:] reaching maturity, to cast in his lot at the North. His early dissipations, his interrupted career at the University of Virginia, his experience as a private soldier under an assumed name, and later his woful failure at the West Point Military Academy, seemed to foreshadow his utter inability to cope with the practical affairs of life. At the beginning of Poe’s literary career, Bryant was the only known American poet of enduring fame. Poe lived long enough, however, to record his disdain of Longfellow and Emerson, his dislike of Whittier, and patronizing pity for Lowell. He could see no beauty in Wordsworth, and regarded Burns as an absurdly overrated poet. A sciolist in culture, he had the knack of giving to his writings the effect of profound erudition. His criticisms were superficial, frequently flippant and even spiteful, though he vastly benefited American letters in puncturing and exposing much of the shallow pretentiousness of the time that arrogated to itself the name of literature. He despised literary impostors, though himself not always superior to the artifice that he condemned in others. He early registered his protest against the tendency to make poetry a study rather than a passion; yet, if he himself is to be credited, his greatest masterpiece was the result of most deliberate and systematic study- Of an impulsive and aggressive nature, he was, in his powers of will, a weakling. Fully conscious of the strength that was in him, he was equally conscious of his fatal weakness. With a persistency that was agonizing in its desperation, he fought his arch-enemy, struggling against inherited conditions, perhaps impossible wholly to eradicate, until his wretched fate at last made him the theme for the mocking scorn of those who, in comparison with himself, were the merest intellectual pygmies.

While still in his Byronic period, not yet out of his teens, he wrote

In visions of the dark night

I have streamed of joys departed,

But a waking dream of life and light

Hath left me broken-hearted.

It is seldom that the languishing [page 168:] despair, affected by verse-smitten youth so accurately foreshadows a life’s horoscope.

Poe came of good stock in the old world. His grandfather, David Poe, though born in Ireland, was reared in this country, and was one of the most self-sacrificing patriots on the American side during the Revolution, David Poe, Jr., Edgar’s father, seems to have been remarkable for little else than inefficiency. He abandoned the legal profession to become a nonentity on the stage. His wife, who was a native of England, evidently had some claims to histrionic ability, and it was probably from her that Edgar inherited his elocutionary talents. Both parents died during Edgar’s infancy. The beautiful and gifted orphan child must have been something more than human not to be injuriously affected by the method of training pursued by his adoptive parents, from whom he took his middle name. When, by a just retribution of fate, he was thrown upon his own resources, he found himself utterly inadequate to cope with the world. Poetry had been his passion from infancy. His efforts received no encouragement, but it was impossible to stifle the voice within him. When eighteen he published at Boston his little volume, “Tamerlane and Other Poems, by a Bostonian,” which, he says, was afterward suppressed “for reasons of a private nature.” Two years later, on receiving some kindly words from John Neal, the first encouragement that he had yet met with, he published at Baltimore “Al Aaraaf, Tainerlaneand Minor Poems.” In the “ Preface,” which appears as “ Romance” in later editions, may be found a pathetic allusion to his early life.

The charms of poetry were doubtless none the less seductive for being “forbidden things.” While affecting to disregard popular opinion, the contemptuous indifference with which his efforts were received could not fail to sting. It is not difficult to fancy the bitterness that must have reigned in his proudly sensitive soul. He was without honor even in his own household. He chafed and railed at his misfortunes, and, like [column 2:] many another neglected genius, sought refuge in gloom and despair. The poetical “Preface” of his 1829 Volume was considerably enlarged as an “Introduction” to the edition of 1831, the added lines being afterward suppressed. There is one passage in these suppressed verses which seems like a shadow forecast by coming events:

I could not love except where Death

Was mingling his with Beauty’s breath —

Dr Hymen, Time and Destiny

Were stalking between her and me.

One of the most striking traits about Poe is his reverence for noble womanhood. Early in youth his quick sensibilities were aroused by kindly words from the mother of one of his boy friends. The young lad, unaccustomed to appreciative notice, became at once her ardent worshiper.

Into her listening ear he would pour the story of bis real or fancied wrongs, and was always certain of exciting sympathy. The death of this honored friend, under circumstances peculiarly tragical, left Edgar disconsolate. Mrs. Whitman has drawn a romantic picture of the stricken orphan lad keeping nightly vigil at the tomb of his benefactress. “When the nights were very dreary and cold, when the autumnal rains fell, and the winds, wailed mournfully over the graves, lie lingered longest and carne away most regretfully.” At this time Poe was fifteen and already accustomed to unburden his heart in verse. But it was his grief at the death of this lady, “the one, idolatrous and purely ideal love” of his boyhood, more than anything else, that enkindled the spark of his genius. It was in her memory that his earn, lines, “To Helen,” were written. This little poem was not published until 1831, when the author was twenty-two, but was probably written some years before. It is unquestionably one of the most perfect lyrics ever penned by youthful singer. This sorrow cast its shadow far into the coming years, and inspired the poems, “The Paean,” afterward developed into the impassioned dirge, “Lenore,” and “Irene,” subsequently entitled “The Sleeper.” Henceforward the memories of the silent dead, the shadows of the [page 169:] lonely tomb, were to haunt him throughout life, embodied occasionally in the fantastic imagery that distinguishes “Ulalume” and “The City of the Sea.” Later, his rejection by the maiden of his choice only intensified his already morbid nature, leading hint to apprehend nothing but darkness and despair for his heritage.

After reaching manhood Poe’s life became a hopeless struggle. Even after he had become known, and there was some demand for his work, his compensation was always light. “The Raven” brought hint ten dollars. Probably the combined prices paid for all his poems never reached the amount for which a single copy of his early verse (the Boston edition of 1827) was recently sold. The Baltimore edition of 1829 is also exceedingly rare. The only copy that I have succeeded in getting is in poor condition, but there is sufficient to show the great changes that these poems have undergone in various editions. There is one lyric in this volume, which, with the exception of a few lines, is not included in any extant edition, and may, therefore, be unfamiliar to most readers. It throws aside light on the poet’s youth, when at the age of twenty he was furtively engaged in verse-writing, and brooding over suicide and prospects of early death. The lines incorporated in a later poem are omitted. It is entitled “To — —,” and is as follows

Should my early life seem

(As well it might) a dream —

Yet I build no faith upon

The King Napoleon —

I look not up afar

For my destiny in a star.

 

In parting from you now

Thus much will I avow

There are beings and have been

Whom my spirit had not seen,

Had I let them pass the by

With a dreaming eye —

If my peace hath fled away

In a night or in a day —

In a vision — or in none —

Is it therefore the less gone?

 

My early hopes? No — they

Went gloriously away.

Like lightning from the sky —

At once — and so will I.

 

So young? Ah! no — not now —

Thou hast not seen nay brow. [column 2:]

But they tell thee I am proud —

They lie — they lie aloud —

My bosom beats with shame

At the paltriness of name

With which they• dare combine

A feeling such as thine —

Nor stoic? I ant not

In the terror of my lot

I laugh to think how poor

That pleasure “to endure!

What! Shade of Zeno! I

Endure! No — no — defy

Poe’s poetical product was slight in bulk. Aside from his juvenile publication in 1827 he published but three volumes of verse, one at Baltimore in 1829; a revised edition at New York in 1831, with its dedication to the West Point cadets, from whom he received only ridicule for his pains; and a still further enlarged and revised collection under the name of “The Raven and Other Poems,” at New York in 1845. The last named contained probably all his verse written up to that time that he considered worth publishing, including portions of “Politian.” The manuscript of the unprinted parts of that dramatic poem subsequently passed into the hands of Mr. Ingram, who has wisely abstained from publishing what would add nothing to the poet’s fame.

Prior to 1845, Poe’s poems attracted little notice. In 1833, when his fortunes seemed to be at their lowest, he scored his first financial success. It was in that year that his prose tale, “‘MS. Found in a Bottle,” and his blank verse poem, “The Coliseum,” originally written as a soliloquy in “Politian,” were both deemed worthy of prizes offered by the “Baltimore Saturday Visitor.” It was held inexpedient to bestow both prizes upon the same competitor, and he was awarded the larger one, a hundred dollars, for his prose tale. His prose contributions to the Baltimore periodical, and subsequently- to the Richmond “Southern Literary Messenger,” were winning for hint an enviable name in the world of letters, but his poetry was ignored. He returned to the North in 1837, and the remainder of his literary life was spent in New York and Philadelphia. He continued his labors as editor and contributor with varying success, As a romance writer he was winning fresh [page 170:] laurels every year. Though he was ill paid and sorely beset, America was beginning to acknowledge his genius. His articles were stolen by the English magazines, and had already made an impression in Prance, where his works are now read and translated more than those of any other American.

Mr. Ingram was the first writer to demonstrate the resemblance between “The Raven “ and Albert Pike’s poem on “Isadore,” written a year or two earlier, and more properly known by the title of “The Widowed Heart.” These similarities are fully set forth by Mr. Ingram in his life of Poe and in a variorum edition of “The Raven” published in London in 1885, and need not be repeated here. While Poe was editing the “Broadway journal” there appeared in its columns a little poem entitled “To Isadore,” so manifestly the work of Poe that Ingram was justified in including it in his edition of Poe’s poems. This lyric, “To Isadore,” was published several months after Pike’s poem, and has so much in common with it, besides the name of the subject, that its origin seems apparent. In tracing the genesis of “The Raven,” Mr. Ingram snakes no mention of this lyric, yet, if really the work of Poe, as seems reasonably certain, it is strong corroboration of Ingram’s theory of one source of Poe’s most famous poem. The success of “The Raven” was sufficient to turn a cooler head than Poe’s. He himself once pronounced it the greatest poem in the world. This was shortly after it was finished, evidently before the ardor of composition had sufficiently cooled to enable him to form a candid judgment. Certain it is that he afterward modified his opinion, for he wrote that, in the true basis of all art, “The Sleeper” was the superior poem, though he believed that “not one man in a million could be brought to agree with” him in that opinion. What he wrote of “The Sleeper” may with equal truth be applied to such lyrics as “The City in the Sea,” “ The Conqueror Worm,” “The Haunted Palace,” “For Annie,” and “Ulalume.” It is in these that his lyrical genius is the least restrained. In these his powers of inspiration take their [column 2:] strongest, highest flight, not into the pure empyrean of celestial hope and faith, but soaring on the pinions of doubt and despair into the upper realms of blackest gloom,

Flapping from out their condor wings Invisible wo?

Invisible, indeed, to the grosser vision, but acting upon the inner sense like strains of weird, unearthly music. His conceptions, though vague, are startling. He can exorcise from the land of shadows, a doomed city of sin, whose spires and minarets gleam with a fantastic light, but fall and crumble as noiselessly as they arose. He pictures Death as rearing a throne in a strange city, “far down within the dins West,” where all “have gone to their eternal rest.”

No rays from the holy heaven come down

On the long night-time of that town;

But light from out the lurid sea

Streams up the turrets silently —

Gleams up the pinnacles, far and free —

Up domes-up spires-up kingly halls —

Up fanes-up Babylon-like walls —

Up shadowy, long-forgotten bowers

Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers,

Whose wreathed friezes intertwine

The viol, the violet and the vine.

 

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters lie,

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seems pendulous in air,

While from a Proud tower in the town

Death looks gigantically down.

All about the waters lie like “a wilderness of glass,” undisturbed by a single ripple, unswept by a single breeze, “all things hideously serene.” Even in the final catastrophe, the oppressive silence remains unbroken. The slight sinking of the towers causes a sudden movement in the “dull tide.”

The waves have now a redder glow,

The hours are breathing faint and low —

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence,

Hell rising from a thousand thrones

Shall do it reverence.

Still more startling in its imagery is the conception of that motley drama with

Much of madness and more of sin

And horror the soul of the plot.

A veiled and weeping angel throng [page 171:] is depicted as seated in the theater, watching “a play of hopes and fears,”

While the orchestra breathes fitfully

The music of the spheres.

Humanity is represented as “ Mimes in. the forth of God -on high,” who “mutter and mumble low,” mere puppets who act

At bidding of vast formless things

That shift the scenery to and fro.

It is the destiny of this “mimic rout “ to become the prey of

A blood-red thing that writhes from out

The scenic solitude.

 

Out, out are the lights — out all!

And over each quivering form

The curtain, a funeral pall,

Comes down with a rush of the storm.

And the angels, all pallid and wan,

Uprising, unveiling, affirm

That the play is the tragedy “Man,”

And its hero, the conqueror worm.

The narrowness of Poe’s imaginative genius is obvious from his constantly dwelling upon one theme, that of destruction, whether of the body or mind. With glowing words and melodious rhythm he sings of reason dethroned or consciousness entombed. The subject of sentience after death was one that engrossed his mind continually, and appears and reappears in his prose and verse. The ballad of “Ulalume” was written in 1847. The poet, still distraught by the death of his idolized child-wife, shattered in health, and impoverished in fortune, was nearing the borderland of insanity. Though not yet out of his thirties, he lived among the ghosts and shadows of a wasted life, in a world peopled with the horrors of a Dantean Inferno.

There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud

Resounded through the air without a star.

It was under such circumstances that the poet coin posed his “Ulalume,” pronounced by a competent critic, “the extreme limit of Poe’s original genius.” The poem will not stand criticism. Many of its lines and rhymes are indefensible. Yet in spite of its faults, it is an exquisite lyric. It comes like a wail of suffering, wrenched from a tortured, baffled soul, whose [column 2:] very anguish finds expression only in a melodious rhythm. The vagueness of its fantasies is forgotten in the effect of its irresistible music. In spite of the bitter arraignment by Mr. R. H. Stoddard, all classes of minds, healthy and otherwise, have been impressed by the little poem, and if, as that critic asserts, “no musical sense was ever gratified with its measure,” it is difficult to explain away its subtle charm.

Analysis of such a work is a profitless task, Poe’s devotion to his wife and her mother, the “more than mother” to him, should go far in mitigating the severe censures that some have seen fit to cast upon his private life. In his last poem, the memory of his beautiful young wife is so fitly enshrined, that it is as the sane and sorrowing author of “Annabel Lee” that his friends and admirers love to regard him. This little lyric is really a tribute to the “love that was more than love,” which he bore to his idolized Virginia, who so far surpassed any thing earthly as to be akin only to the angels above,

So that her high-born kinsmen came

And bore her away from me.

To shut her up in. her sepulchre,

In this kingdom by the sea.

It was peculiarly fitting that the last notes of his lyre, ere it fell from his hand forever, should vibrate responsive to the purest feelings that animated his whole career. For the remaining months of his life, the chords were to remain silent while he himself was marching to his tragic end. In that supreme moment, as he lay dying in the hospital, the easy victim of Baltimore political roughs, how vain and unsatisfying his notions of life and art, how empty and shallow his theories of pantheism as expounded in his prose poem of “Eureka,” must have seemed to him, may be inferred, as in the agony of his tortured brain, he breathed the last and perhaps the only sincere prayer of his life, “Lord help my poor soul!” These last words that ever passed his lips sound like a confession that, after all, something more than mere abstract beauty is essential to satisfy the yearnings of human nature.

Poe has suffered almost as much from [page 172:] indiscriminate panegyrists as from malignant detractors. Now that the generation that knew him for good and for ill has passed away, and with it all personal prejudices and predilections, it is possible to consider his work in that impartial spirit which he himself would have demanded. His most devoted admirers must admit the narrowness of his poetic range. Within those narrow limits he stands peerless among our purely lyrical singers. He was in no sense of the abused term a “national poet.” He was not even a humanitarian one. Yet contracted as was his imaginative power the world itself was not broad enough for his song. In the land of dreams, fairies, clouds and shadows he wandered. The hopes, fears and aspirations of struggling humanity were as nothing to him. Beauty alone, in his judgment, was the purpose of poetry — truth only as subordinate to beauty; heroism, patriotism, love of home, of honor, or of duty, or any of the sublimer virtues, had no place as such in his realm of song. The Greek dramatists he brushed aside with contempt, though he could speak patronizingly of Milton. It must be admitted that he remained true to his ideals, in spite of temptations to prostitute his talents. Rather would heeat the crust of poverty than permit his poetic passions to be excited “with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations of mankind.” He instinctively haters didacticism, yet his verse is as pure and free from moral blemish as the most exacting could demand. As in his prose he fell short of Hawthorne’s power to sound the depths of the human soul, so in his verse he failed to reach the divine heights scaled by his great master, Coleridge. His imagination was vivid but not profound. His descriptions, analytical almost to tediousness in his prose, are purposely vague and indefinite in his verse. His conceptions, as he remarks of those of Shelley, are seldom perfectly wrought out. Yet his undoubted originality-, his fantastically gorgeous imagery, the stirring music of his song, the sweetness and melody of his diction, and his epigrammatic [column 2:] expressions of thought at once stamp his poetry as the work of a man of genius and individuality.

The literary faults of Poe are as sharply defined as his merits. His tendency to subordinate sense to sound, and his verbal affectations, such as his use of terms rare and obsolete, or in a sense removed from their legitimate meanings, are among his most obvious mannerisms. But perhaps his gravest offense was the assumption of a profound learning which he by no means possessed. One of his biographers, Mr. Didier, is inclined to regard him as the most scholarly writer our country has produced. “His acquaintance with classical literature,” we are assured, “was thorough. His familiarity with modern literature was extensive, while of English literature it can be truly said he knew it from the very source. Even the most insignificant of his writings show scholarship.” Poe enjoyed nothing so much as to hoax the reading public, and through the verisimilitude of some of his tales and sketches, often produced the desired effect. But the most successful of all his impositions were the displays of erudition which inspired such awe in the minds of some of his admirers. Poe’s singular error concerning the authorship of “Oedipus at Colon us” may have been uttered through carelessness rather than ignorance, but no such excuse can be urged for other inaccuracies scattered throughout his works. Mr. Woodberry was probably the first to do full justice to Poe’s pretensions in this respect. It is sufficient to cite one flagrant example, the case of the note to his well-known lyric “Israfel.” Originally it read, “ And the angel Israfel. who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures: Koran,” The passage, as Mr. Woodberry points out, is not in the Koran, but in Sale’s “Preliminary- Discourse.” In the notes to Moore’s “Lallah Rookh,” where Poe found it, it is correctly attributed to Sale. At a later time Poe “interpolated[ the entire phrase, ‘whose heartstrings are a lute,’ (the idea on which the poem is founded), which is neither in Moore, Sale nor the Koran.” “With [page 172:] this highly original emendation,” adds his biographer, “ the note now stands in his works as an extract from the Koran.”

No especial fault, perhaps, is to be found with Poe for his habit of republishing in the magazines as new, remodeled versions of his own pieces which had already been printed. These alterations are almost invariably improvements on the originals. Not so commendable was his custom of inscribing the same lines as personal tributes to different individuals. Thus the little poem beginning “Beloved! amid the earnest woes.” he first published in 1835 as a tribute “To Mary.” After transposing the stanzas he republished it in 1842, addressed “To One Departed,” and in 1845 he printed it for a third time, and as intended for Mrs. Frances Sargeant Osgood. Another short poem, “Thou Would’st Be Loved?” was originally written to Miss White, and published in 1835. In 1839, slightly altered, it was reprinted and addressed “To — ,” and finally, in 1845, once more pressed into service, this time as another tribute to Mrs. Osgood, who has been allowed to remain the last and undisputed subject of both poems. That estimable lady, so far from resenting these tributes at third hand, was profoundly grateful to the poet, and to her dying day was one of his most earnest defenders.

Poe’s personal traits have been too widely exploited to need further discussion here. His shortcomings have been pitilessly exposed. The sanctity of his home has been invaded, and the veil ruthlessly drawn from his domestic life. Weaknesses that have been condoned in other literary men have been made matters of bitterest reproach against him. Actual inability to meet financial obligations has been imputed to him as premeditated dishonesty. Inherited tendencies, against which he valiantly strove, have been exaggerated and misrepresented. His chivalric deference to womanhood has been misconstrued for insincerity and fickleness. “My whole [column 2:] nature utterly revolts at the idea that there is any being in the universe superior to myself,” were the words that he used in commenting on his own theories of cosmogony. This, of course, was said in no spirit of egotism, but simply as regarding himself as a type of universal manhood. Yet he was thoroughly out of touch with humanity. In his estimate of others he was frequently unjust, and, as we have seen, affected a disdain of contemporary applause. It remained for posterity to vindicate his name. He was the second American poet to be honored with a monument after death. His fame increases with the nears. A little more than a quarter of a century after he had passed away a cenotaph was reared by the school-teachers of Baltimore above his grave. The tributes that were then received from the greatest living singers in the old world and the new afford some evidence of the honor in which he is held in the republic of letters. Ten years later the Poe memorial in New York Metropolitan Museum was erected by the actors of America. In England he is the only American poet to contest the popularity of Longfellow, and his works have been translated into French, German, Spanish and Italian. Besides these there is said to be a Russian translation of “The Raven.” A Latin translation of that poem was published at Oxford and London in 1866, and one in Hungarian appeared at Budapest in 1870. His personal character for good and for bad was probably what might have been expected from one of his nervously sensitive organization, subjected to such a course of training as he received. This should be borne in mind by those who, are in such haste to pass judgment upon his private affairs. There need be no disposition to absolve Poe from due moral accountability. Yet, as Burns the man has long since been absorbed in Burns the poet, it is not too much to ask a like charitable judgment in behalf of the ill-starred American, in whose verse there is not the shadow of moral uncleanness.

 


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Notes:

None.

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[S:0 - MCM, 1895] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - The Lyric Poet of America (J. L. Onderdonk, 1895)