Text: Laura Jehn Menides, “There, but for the Grace of God, Go I: Eliot and Williams on Poe,” Poe and Our Times: Influences and Affinities, Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society, 1986, pp. 78-89 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 78, unnumbered:]



T. S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams disagreed on so much in their personal and artistic lives that it is not surprising that they should differ in their response to Poe. Williams’ chapter on Poe in In the American Grain and Eliot’s “From Poe to Valéry,”(1) to take their most substantial statements on Poe, seem worlds apart in their assessments of his influence and place in literature.

Eliot finds Poe longing for Europe, an expatriate at heart; Williams finds Poe the quintessential American, “more American” than Hawthorne, or as one critic puts it, a real “local boy.”(2) Eliot’s Poe has drawn virtually nothing from his American roots; Williams’ Poe is definitely “in the American grain,” a hero in the line of Columbus, DeSoto, Sam Houston and Daniel Boone. Eliot’s Poe is “adolescent” and incapable of skepticism; Williams’ Poe makes mature judgments and is often satiric. Eliot criticizes, and Williams applauds, Poe’s use of words. Eliot says that the important Poe founded a French literary tradition, which, however, is now “exhausted” and useless to modern artists; Williams insists that “on Poe is founded” an American literary tradition that must be respected and continued, as Williams himself aims to continue it. Williams whole-heartedly approves of Poe’s emphasis on form and technique; Eliot’s approval is muted, for he fears that in the concentration on form, meaning is lost.

Readers of these two essays could go on with differences, but it would be profitable to stop and ask: Why the differences? Two reasons, I think. First, Eliot and Williams find very different Poes because they look in different places in the Poe canon. Williams concentrates on Poe’s voluminous magazine criticism and the prose tales but slights the poetry; Eliot emphasizes the poetry and poetic theory and slights the fugitive criticism.(3)

A more important reason for their difference is that each is so personal in his response to Poe; each seems to see his own merits and concerns reflected in Poe. Eliot looks at Poe from the perspective of the expatriate who has found in the Anglo-Catholic tradition all that was missing in America; he has found, in other words, what Poe, who stayed in America, could not find. Williams views Poe from the perspective of the stay-at-home American; he sees Poe as an American Adam, a writer who willingly forgoes European influences and responds to the difficult American challenge to be original, a writer, however, whose originality is continually threatened. The point to be made and investigated further is this: both Eliot and Williams reveal a profound and disturbing kinship with Poe. Each seems to discover in Poe a [page 79:] model or version of himself — and also a dire warning. Each, however, finds a different model, a different warning.

Williams’ Poe chapter in In the American Grain is not an academic essay but instead a highly charged paean, in which, gradually, Williams reveals his intense identification with Poe. Williams describes the earlier writer as so original, so accurate in expressing himself and his condition in America, that he becomes his century’s best expression of America. If Poe’s true merits were better known, Williams insists, he could be a valuable model for other American artists and the basis of an American artistic tradition; if Poe’s defects were better understood, he could provide a valuable warning. Williams seeks to set the record straight about Poe, but at the same time he reveals his own most serious concerns.

The Poe (and penultimate) chapter of In the American Grain is the best demonstration of Williams’ thesis and also an important key to the method and message of Paterson. In the American Grain is Williams’ attempt to understand the sources of his own urges, repressions and contradictions. He finds those sources in the two major — and contradictory — strains in American culture, strains apparent in all his heroes, including Poe, including himself. The book’s heroes — Columbus, Boone, Sam Houston, Lincoln, and Poe — are all original men; all understand that the New World demands new response and expression, that it challenges them to be new. All of these heroes, however, are hounded and thwarted by another American strain — a littleness, a fear of newness and originality, a terrible, ruinous repression. Faced with this opposition (in American culture and often in themselves) most of the book’s heroes, like Poe, are destroyed.

In allying himself with these heroes, especially with Poe, Williams seems determined to recognize and name these strains for what they are, to separate them, and then to absorb and foster American originality, and to overcome American repression. Thus, Williams insists that the repressed, self-destructive Poe is not the essential Poe. Williams iterates and reiterates that the essential, important Poe is the original American artist, meeting the New World with newness of his own.

This essential, important Poe is a worthy model. The comment in the Literary History of the United States that no modern American poet has yet proclaimed Poe’s “living value” in terms equal to Valéry’s is simply untrue. It reveals either that Spiller et al. have not read Williams’ Poe chapter or that In the American Grain continues to be misunderstood or unappreciated.(4) Repeatedly, Williams’ Poe chapter proclaims Poe’s living value: he is, Williams insists, “a genius intimately shaped by his locality and time”; “a light in the morass.” “On him is FOUNDED A LITERATURE.” “In him American [page 80:] literature is anchored, in him alone, on solid ground.” Poe is “more American” than Hawthorne; he “heed(s) more the local necessities, the harder structural imperatives.” And Williams insists, “The value of Poe’s genius to OURSELVES must be uncovered.” These quotations refer to Poe’s prose works — his critical articles and tales — for it is in the prose that Williams finds his positive model. In fact, seven-eighths of Williams’ chapter is devoted to Poe’s prose works, and more than hall to the criticism.

Williams shares many critical attitudes with Poe; in fact he selects from Poe’s volumes of criticism those passages that make his own favorite critical appeals. For example, Williams states that although Poe “slights” the notion of a “nationality of letters,” his “constant focus of attention” in one essay is “the preeminent importance, in letters as in all other branches of imaginative creation, of the local.”(5) Here is Williams’ point, made often in his work, that art must express its own local place in order to express universals. As other examples of shared critical concerns, Williams also notes that Poe deplores “plagiarism,” especially the slavish “copying” of European stylistics, that Poe insists upon high-quality, original American literature, and not “colonial imitation,” that Poe urges American writers to find American idiom and to experiment with form.(6)

Critical affinities between Poe and Williams are easier to discern than artistic affinities, but Williams’ essay suggests the latter as well. In fact, the critical and artistic are linked by the special definitions that Williams gives to the words “local” and “original” (definitions that, as mentioned earlier, he finds in Poe). Williams writes that Poe has “the firmness of INSIGHT into the condition upon which our literature must rest, always the same, a local one, surely, but not of sentiment or mood, as not of trees and Indians, but of original fibre.” Poe expresses the local, that is, not by copying American landscape or other features (that would be a form of plagiarism), but by honestly and accurately expressing himself and his situation in America. As Williams asserts, “the whole period, America 1840, could be rebuilt psychologically . . .from Poe’s ‘method’.” The whole period, and Poe’s situation in that period are expressed, Williams continues, throughout Poe’s tales, especially in their images. Williams points to the many images of “broken” people (as, for example in “Loss of Breath”) and to “the recurrent image of the ape” in “Hop-Frog,” “Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether,” and “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Perhaps, Williams suggests, it is Poe’s “disgust with his immediate associates and his own fears, which cause this frequent use of [the ape] . . . to create the emotion of extreme terror.”

As in this quotation, throughout his essay Williams praises Poe’s ability to “create” — to give artistic form and expression to his particular situation at [page 81:] a particular time and place in America. Williams must have had this attribute of Poe in mind when he himself was writing Paterson, when, that is, he was attempting to express himself and his America, for there are significant parallels between Poe’s “broken” characters in the tales and Williams’ “divorced” ones in Paterson, and between Poe’s ape as an image of disgust and fear and Williams’ images of dwarfs and other grotesques in Paterson. In fact, what Williams says of Poe is equally true of himself when he was writing Paterson — that the “grotesque inappropriateness of the life around him forced itself in among his words.”

Throughout his account of Poe’s prose works, Williams notes Poe’s insistence on method — on finding the proper artistic form and imposing it on the enormous “formless mass” of America. Once more, Williams sees in Poe his own major concern, voiced repeatedly in In the American Grain and Paterson — the need to express America. Williams says of Poe’s “method” in the tales:

The significance and the secret is: authentic particles. . . taken apart and reknit with a view to emphasize, enforce and make evident the method. Their quality of skill in observation, their heat, local verity . . . the detached, the abstract, the cold philosophy of their joining together; a method springing . . . freshly from the local conditions which determine it.

These words of praise for Poe actually describe Williams’ own method in In the American Grain and Paterson, both of which feature “authentic particles” — quotations from historical and contemporary sources — which are then “reknit,” emphasizing the “method” of the works. Similarly, Williams’ Paterson and In the American Grain reveal the very qualities he discovers in Poe: “skill in observation,” “heat,” “local verity.” And significantly, Williams’ art finds its inspiration exactly where he says Poe’s was found: in the local conditions which determine it.”

Perhaps the most interesting parallel between what Williams finds in Poe’s art and what he accomplishes in his own involves the American writer’s use of non-American materials. Again, Williams is full of praise, for, he says, even when Poe uses foreign cultures, he is original, and American:

Poe could look at France, Spain, Greece, and NOT be impelled to copy. He could do this BECAUSE he had the sense within him of a locality of his own, capable of cultivation. . . . Poe’s use of the tags of other cultures than his own manages to be novel, interesting, useful, unaffected, since it succeeds in giving the impression of being not in the least dragged in by rule or pretence but of a fresh purpose. [page 82:]

Williams, too, has “fresh purpose” when in his very American Paterson he quotes Sappho, or when he describes in loving detail in Book 5 the medieval unicorn tapestries. What the speaker of Paterson finds exciting is that he is able to make these medieval Flemish tapestries live — live in America. In a literal as well as a symbolic sense, the tapestries in Paterson have become American. Literally, they have come to America, to the Cloisters in New York; more importantly, Paterson’s speaker finds in them an imaginative expression of himself and his America. To read Williams’ words on Poe, to understand what Williams sees in Poe, is to understand Williams’ own artistic aims. Poe has indeed provided a model.

If Williams finds his model primarily in Poe’s prose, he finds his warning primarily in the poetry. If in the former he discovers American artistic originality, in the latter he discovers that originality thwarted and destroyed. As Williams explains, certain heroic souls, like Poe, can comprehend, and can meet, the New World’s challenge to be new themselves; other Americans, most Americans Williams would say, can not meet the challenge to be new and so fall back on old patterns (that is, they plagiarize) and actually become fearful of and destructive towards originality.

This conflict — between originality and its opposition — is, according to Williams, found to some extent in all of Poe’s work, for it is part of Poe’s situation in America. It finds its way into the criticism, Williams says, when Poe becomes “ill-tempered” and “monomaniacal” in his drive to expose plagiarists. Similarly, in the tales the “gross inappropriateness” of the opposition finds expression among Poe’s words — and thus the ugly and terrifying images cited earlier. But, Williams says, it is in the poetry that the full and ultimately destructive effects of the opposition are revealed. In the poems, according to Williams, Poe exposes his intense, unrelieved yearning for agreement and support, his recoil from those who fail to give support, and finally, his terrible, ruinous isolation. “In his prose,” Williams says, Poe “could still keep a firm hold, he still held the ‘arrangement’ fast and stood above it, but in the poetry he was at the edge — there was nothing.” These charges about Poe’s poetry are made without much evidence or detail, Williams perhaps reinforcing his point that the essential Poe is to be found in the prose, not in the poetry. In fact, while he discusses the prose at length, he rather dismisses the poetry: “there are but five poems,” he says, “possibly three.”

Williams apparently reads in Poe’s poems an expression of his own tendencies towards recoil and isolation. Throughout his chapter he seems resolved not to let the forces of repression and denial destroy him as they destroyed Poe. Those forces may come, Williams suggests, from within as [page 83:] well as from without, for if the drive to originality is in the American grain, so too is the drive toward repression of originality. With the image of Poe before him, Williams seems determined to continue his own fight against the plagiarists, but to temper the anger, to guard against the recoil and the destructive isolation — to put himself in the line, not of the destroyed Poe, but of the local and original artist.

Unlike Williams, whose identification with Poe pervades his essay, Eliot is reticent and uneasy about admitting kinship with Poe (he can “never be sure,” he says, whether he was influenced by Poe). The influence — the kinship — can be discerned, however, in Eliot’s poetry (especially in the early poems written in the symbolist mode)(7) and in what I would like to consider: Eliot’s many articles on and references to Poe written over five decades, especially “From Poe to Valéry.” Eliot wrote the latter in 1949, when he had left America and become, as he said, a British citizen, a classicist, and an Anglo-Catholic,(8) when, as evidenced by the Four Quartets, he was reassessing his own early years and recovering from what he considered poetic and spiritual failings. It seems that at least part of the reason why Eliot is so uneasy, so qualified in his praise, and often so negative in his reactions to Poe is that he sees Poe as an early version of himself, an Eliot who never left America, an Eliot that might have been.

Thus many virtues and defects that Eliot finds in Poe are the same qualities that he describes in his early, pre-Four Quartets, work. Let me discuss four of Eliot’s observations. First is the two-sided effect, for the artist, of being born an American: artistic isolation and rootlessness on the one hand and, on the other, artistic originality. Eliot says of Poe: “There can be few authors of such eminence who have drawn so little from their own roots, who have been so isolated from any surroundings.” Poe is “not at home where he belongs, but cannot go anywhere else”; he is a “kind of displaced European,” a “wanderer with no fixed abode.” Eliot, it seems, sees Poe as he saw himself during his early career when he was similarly a “kind of displaced European,” a “wanderer.” In 1909, for example, Eliot writes of the “sacrifice” of those Americans “retained” to America “while their hearts are always in Europe,”(9) and in his early poems, the biting, humorous “Mélange Adultère de Tout” and the sardonic “Gerontion,” his speakers have no “fixed abode,” but either flit from place to place or are blown hither and yon. Throughout his early years in America, Eliot admitted later, he never felt that he belonged: in St. Louis, he said, he always felt the Easterner, and at Harvard he was always the Southerner.(10) Like the Poe described in his essay, Eliot was “isolated from any surroundings.”

Living in the isolating and “starved environment” of America made Poe [page 84:] a “pathetic” creature, Eliot writes, but it also may have accounted for his genius — his “originality.”(11) The suggestion is that a place so starved, so lacking in the traditional materials of art “forces” the artist to be original. The term “originality” does not carry Eliot’s unqualfied [[unqualified]] approval (as it does Williams’), but, as it is used, rather reveals Eliot’s ambivalence towards America and the possibilities for the American artist. As he writes in “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” “no poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.” Eliot seems to be warning himself against what he sees in Poe — an originality that signals isolation from artistic roots. Instead, Eliot seems determined to display his own originality by his new, his original, interaction with a traditional community of art.

Eliot’s second observation about Poe concerns the misapplication of Poe’s intelligence, and it recalls Eliot’s own fear, expressed in “Mr. Eliot’s Sunday Morning Service,” “Gerontion,” and elsewhere, that intelligence, unless exercised in the proper context and tradition, is empty and frustrating. The point is made in one of Eliot’s essays in which he acknowledges Poe’s fine intellectual and critical abilities, but charges that the intelligence and critical acumen are misspent. Poe, Eliot writes, was “the directest, the least pedantic, the least pedagogical of the critics writing in his time in either America or England” but, he says, “it is not a point of vast importance, as most of the writers whom Poe criticized are embalmed only in their coffins and in Poe’s abuse.”(12) The implication here is that the artist critic should channel his intelligence toward worthier, more lasting subjects — those perhaps in what Eliot elsewhere calls the “main current” of tradition.

Related to the above complaint is Eliot’s third major observation about Poe, again an observation about his own early self. Poe, Eliot says, lacks consistency; his vision of life is “limited.”“ The charge is expressed through out the essays; each time Eliot, in effect, exposes Poe’s “dissociation of sensibility.” Although the term, examined at length in “The Metaphysical Poets,” does not appear in any of his Poe essays, it is clear that Eliot sees Poe as a victim of this dissociation, this split between the faculties. According to Eliot, Poe is missing “a consistent view of life”; he is “adolescent”; he has not developed conviction and commitment. He simply “entertains” theories, but doesn’t “believe” them. “What is lacking,” Eliot says, “is not brain power, but the maturity of intellect which comes only with the maturing of the man as a whole, the development and coordination of his various emotions.” What is lacking, in short, is just what Eliot found lacking in himself and was later able to recover, according to the Four Quartets, in the Christian tradition — the ability to unite the intellectual with the emotional and spiritual aspects of life. [page 85:]

To Eliot, Poe’s inability to write a long poem stems from this lack of maturity and coordination of human faculties. As Eliot writes of Poe:

He himself was incapable of writing a long poem. He could conceive only a poem which was a single simple effect: for him, the whole of a poem had to be in one mood. Yet it is only in a poem of some length that a variety of moods can be expressed; for a variety of moods requires a number of different themes or subjects. . .A long poem may gain by the widest possible variations of intensity. But Poe wanted a poem to be the first intensity throughout.

Eliot charges that even “The Bells,” which may seem “a deliberate exercise in several moods,” is actually “as much a poem of one mood as any of Poe’s.”

Much the same charge has been levelled against Eliot’s The Waste Land, which, for all its variety, has been seen as a poem of one mood — a single, sustained cry of near despair.(14) Eliot himself, later in life, dismissed The Waste Land as a “piece of rhythmical grumbling.”(15) Eliot was aware, of course, that The Waste Land was considered a masterpiece, but his comment signals his reassessment, his belief that the poem lacks mature perspective, the perspective of other moods. Again, Eliot seems to have found in Poe a problem that he himself had faced and, in his later years, had worked to overcome. What Eliot in “From Poe To Valéry” says he prefers in poetry — a long poem of many moods, a poem of commitment — is exactly what the reader finds in Four Quartets. The essay on Poe, in fact, not only reveals important aims of Four Quartets, but also justifies several unpoetic passages in the poem. Eliot writes in the Poe essay about the requirements of a long poem: “In a long poem some parts may be deliberately planned to be less ‘poetic’ than others; these passages may show no lustre when extracted, but may be intended to elicit, by contrast, the significance of other parts, and to unite them into a whole more significant than any of the parts.”

Perhaps the most important observation in Eliot’s “From Poe to Valéry” relates to Poe’s self-conscious attention to form and to the process of composition. It relates, too, to what Eliot admits is Poe’s “immense” influence on Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Valéry. Eliot suggests that Poe’s focus on technique — part of his “originality” — was encouraged by his American “starved” environment. According to Eliot, that is, America provides so little “subject” that the artist tends to concentrate on form. As he says of Poe’s work, the “material” is “tenuous” and “the treatment is everything.” Once more, we can read into Eliot’s remarks the kinship between Poe and his early self, for wasn’t Eliot, in “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” and in “Prufrock,” for example, similarly starved for material, similarly absorbed self-consciously [page 86:] in treatment? Once more, we can see Eliot’s need to extricate himself from Poe and from the tradition Poe founded. Once more Poe provides a warning that Eliot has heeded. And in this case the warning is not for Eliot alone, but for all of modern poetry, for after carefully tracing Poe’s profound influence on Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Valéry, and after admitting that some of the poetry he most admires is to be found in this symbolist tradition, Eliot charges that this tradition “has ended.” It has “gone as far as it can go” and cannot be “of any help to later poets” because two ideas of Poe’s — that the poem should be a self-conscious act of creation and that the poem is an end in itself — were taken to the extreme limit by Valéry. At that limit, Eliot says, subject matter all but vanishes. That is, when the poet’s attention is devoted excessively to how the poem is created, what is said is forgotten. The poem thus divorces itself from meaning, belief and commitment, the very things that Eliot, in his later years, in Four Quartets especially, sought to restore to poetry.

Four Quartets records Eliot’s final personal and poetic effort to correct the defects of his early career — the very defects that he analyzes in his essays on Poe. The isolation and rootlessness that Eliot found in Poe and in himself (and that is described throughout the “Prufrock” volume) were corrected by his joining a literary and spiritual community, a “Little Gidding.” The “hypertrophy of intellect” (Allen Tate’s term)(16) and the dissociation of sensibility that he shared with Poe (and that is so hauntingly depicted in “The Hollow Men” and “Gerontion”) were cured, according to Eliot, by his going back to before that dissociation began — seventeenth-century England — and by reconnecting with all that had been severed. In short, by finding coherence — unity of intellect and emotion — in Anglican Christianity. Eliot could thus place himself in the “main line” of tradition, the line which links Eliot to other Anglo-Catholic writers, and thereby to Dante, to Virgil and Homer. In Four Quartets also, Eliot corrects the excessive attention to technique which he finds in Poe and in his younger self. (As Matthiessen notes, readers of the early Eliot had to concentrate on his poetic technique; in Four Quartets, that concentration must be given to content.)(17) And finally, Four Quartets, in its length and complexity, and in its recognition of life’s lows and highs, redresses another early fault: the poem attempts to reconcile, through Christian tradition and theology, life’s many moods and paradoxes.

The “tradition” from Poe to Valéry, then, is in Eliot’s view a short-lived tradition, an interesting development, but it is outside the “main current,” a rather fascinating poetic by-way. Eliot himself travelled on it, but — and here is the warning heeded — left it in order to resume his journey toward the main road. [page 87:]

One might ask whether there are any affinities between Poeand this later Eliot, the Eliot who had joined the main road and found unity and coherence. Eliot, I feel certain, would say no. The French may have found some thing philosophically pleasing about Poe’s Eureka (as a possible parallel to Four Quartets), but Eliot thinks that the French improved Poe. To the French, Eliot says, Poe provided important hints and suggestions„which they then, with the depth and understanding and maturity in their background, formed into something more profound than was in Poe originally. Eliot, I think, looks at Poe as the self he left behind in America. He sees Poe as he did his early self — rather like Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy: confused, lost in the dark, seeking, vaguely, some lost love, some ideal. I think Eliot would say that, like Dante, he himself has found his Beatrice and his lost love (that is, Divine Love), but that Poe has not. Poe, Eliot writes in 1943, “lives in a world of dreams, shadows, and regrets for a lost, unpossessed, and unattainable love.”(18)

That evaluation of Poe is repeated ten years later in 1953 in “American Literature and the American Language,” one of Eliot’s final essays on Poe. Again Eliot mentions Poe’s “dream world” — Poe’s reaction to the actual, American world he knew and to the European world he longed for but visited only, in his imagination. Although the essay praises Poe’s artistic power and originality, it also reiterates Eliot’s uneasy and ambivalent feelings about Poe, especially about Poe’s isolation from the main line of tradition. Eliot’s essay can be read as a version of what Harold Bloom analyzes in The Anxiety of Influence — a writer’s need to overcome the affinity which he may have felt for a literary forebear. As Eliot writes:

The writers of the past, especially the immediate past, in one’s own place and language may be valuable to the young writer simply as something definite to rebel against. He will recognize the common ancestry; but he needn’t necessarily like his relatives. For models to imitate, or for styles from which to learn, he may often more profitably go to writers of another country and another language, or of a remoter age.(19)

One can read in that statement Eliot’s personal decision to leave America and to ally himself with a broader literary tradition — and thus to achieve what he says eluded Poe.

Consequently Eliot, like Williams, sees his own merits and problems reflected in Poe, his own answers confirmed by Poe’s failure to find similar answers. When each of these modern writers looks at Poe, he seems to find first himself, and second, the self he might have been. Each considers Poe from his own perspective and says, in effect (Eliot more literally than Williams): “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

[page 88:]


1.  William Carlos Williams, “Edgar Allan Poe,” In the American Grain (New York, 1925), pp. 216-233. All quotations from Williams are from this chapter, T. S. Eliot, “From Poe to Valéry,” To Criticize the Critic (New York, 1965), pp. 27-42. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from Eliot are to be found in this essay.

2.  Reed Whittemore, William Carlos Williams: Poet from New Jersey (Boston, 1975), p. 205.

3.  In “From Poe to Valéry,” Eliot says that he is considering Poe’s work as a whole, but he actually refers to only one essay on poetic theory and ignores the magazine criticism.

4.  Robert E. Spiller, Willard Thorp, Thomas H. Johnson, Henry Seidel Canby, Richard M. Ludwig, William Gibson, eds. Literary History of the United States, 4th ed., rev. (New York, 1974), p. 321. The Poe essay was written by F. O. Matessen. See Benjamin T. Spencer, “Doctor Williams’ American Grain,” TSL, 8 (1963),1-16.

5.  Williams refers to Poe’s essay on Frederick Marryat — H. 10:197-202.

6.  For a discussion of Williams’ affinities with Poe, and with Whitman, see E. P. Bollier, “Against the American Grain: William Carlos Williams Between Whitman and Poe,” Donald Pizer, ed. Essays in American Literature in Memory of Richard P. Adams [Tulane Studies in English, 23] (New Orleans, 1978),123-142. See also Paul Mariani, William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked (New York, 1981).

7.  F. O. Matthiessen, in The Achievement of T. S. Eliot, rev. ed. (New York, 1958), p. 8, writes: “it is not to be forgotten that the symbolist movement has its roots in the work of the most thoroughly conscious artist in American poetry before Eliot, Edgar Poe.”

8.  In the preface to For Lancelot Andrews (New York, 1929).

9.  T. S. Eliot, Review of Van Wyck Brooks’s The Wine of the Puritans, Harvard Advocate. 7 May 1909, p. 80.

10.  Robert Sencourt, T. S. Eliot: A Memoir (New York, 1971), p. 15.

11.  These remarks about “originality” in the “starved environment” of America appear in Eliot’s review of the second volume of The Cambridge History of American Literature, The Athenaeum: 25 April 1919, pp. 236-237. For comments on this essay, see B. R. McElderry, “T. S. Eliot on Poe,” PoeN, 2 (1969), 32-33.

12.  The Athenaeum review, p. 237, and McElderry, p. 33. Poe’s “intelligence” is mentioned also in Eliot’s discussions of Poe’s detective fiction in The New Criterion, 5 (1927), 139-143, 362. For commentary on Eliot’s analysis, see Judy Osowski, “T. S. Eliot on ‘Poe the Detective’,” PoeN 3(1970), 39.

13.  See, for example, “A Dream Within a Dream,” a BBC talk, published in Listener, 24: 25 February 1943, pp. 243-244 and quoted in McElderry, p. 33. [page 89:]

14.  See, for example, Richard Ellman, “The First Waste Land” in Eliot in His Time, ed. A. Walton Litz (Princeton, 1973), pp. 51-66, and James E. Miller, T. S. Eliot’s Personal Waste Land (University Park and London, 1977).

15.  T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts (New York, 1971), p. 1.

16.  Allen Tate, “The Angelic Imagination,” The Recognition of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Eric W. Carlson (Ann Arbor, 1966), pp. 238-239.

17.  Matthiessen, p. 193.

18.  In “A Dream Within a Dream.” See also McElderry, p. 33.

19.  To Criticize the Critic, p. 56.





[S:0 - PAOT, 1986] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Lectures - Poe and Our Times - There, but for the Grace of God, Go I: Eliot and Williams on Poe (Laura Jehn Menides, 1986)