Text: John P. Frankenstein, “[Edgar Allan Poe],” from American Art: Its Awful Altitude: A Satire, Cincinnati, OH: published by the author, 1864, part IV, pp. 84-86


[page 84, continued:]

Come! be by searching truth’s tribunal tried!

Come forth ! if you’ve got sober since you died,

You, drunken mad-dog, EDGAR ALLAN POE

Is it my fault that I must call you so?

Your works, like you, are born of alcohol;

Horrid monstrosities, distortions all;

It needs no doctor’s gallipot or jar,

Filled with that stuff, to keep them as they are;

Soaked with its strange and strong, insidious power,

Your tales the many eagerly devour; [page 85:]

The Barnum of the Western Museum, FRANKS,

Here for apt illustration shall have thanks;

He fitted up a noted murderers’ room,

Of victims, too, which they sent to the tomb,

Wax figures with authentic, gaping gashes,

The weapons that made all these hideous slashes;

An hundred dollars covered the expense —

Three thousand dollars was his recompense!

You, Poe, through all your nature most debased,

You pandered to this craving tiger-taste;

King Alcohol through you once ruled our realm

Of literature, you staggered at its helm;

By English critics, too, were recognized,

A fact which was by us most highly prized.

You, with an impudence sublimely brazen,

In Art your frantic fumes must largely blazon;

Here I’ve a crew to pick with you, my friend —

Your poor, poor raven that rhymes without an end?

No, mad dog, no ! but do you recollect

How at my pictures once you picked and pecked?

They were done soberly, with anxious care,

No time, no labor on them did I spare,

All that nigh any fool could have seen there;

Nor was the labor lost, they were well painted ;

Then you, with every fiber liquor-tainted —

You, YOU, who all your life could not walk straight,

With swaggering ignorance my work berate?

When in the gutter the last time you lay,

When death, disgusted, almost turned away,

When you with rot-gut whisky dying stunk,

And thus into God’s presence reeled DEAD-DRUNK

I tell you, mad dog, when I heard all this,

I helped outraged humanity, to hiss!

You need not say now nothing should be said,

That I am living and that you are dead — [page 86:]

You drink yourself to death; must I forego,

Be balked of justice and revenge? Not so;

In prose to prick me you chose your own time,

And I choose mine to pay you back in rhyme;

Avaunt! and nevermore to me come nigh —

I do believe you stink of whisky yet — good bye!




John Peter Frankenstein (1817-1881) was a painter and sculptor, born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. His name was originally John Peter Tracht, but the family changed the last name to Frankenstein when they emigrated to Cincinnati, OH in 1831. He later moved to Boston, Philadelphia, Albany and New York. As an artist, he was self-taught, and was mostly known as a portrait painter. After a period of moderate success, his career faltered, and his final years were spent in poverty and bitterness. Although Frankenstein clearly accuses Poe of having criticized his paintings, no opinion at all by Poe about Frankenstein is known. There is no evidence that Frankenstein knew Poe personally, although they were living in Philadelphia about 1842. See William Coyle, “An Attack on Poe in 1864,” Papers on Poe, ed. Richard P. Veler (Springfield, Ohio: Chantry Music Press, 1972), pp. 161-164.



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