Text: Killis Campbell, “Preface,” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. v-vi


[page v:]


This edition of Poe’s Poems includes all the poems collected either by the poet himself or by his literary executor, Rufus W. Griswold. I have endeavored to give also a complete and accurate record of the multifarious revisions made by the poet in republishing his verses — a matter of extreme importance for the understanding of his art; and I have departed from former editors in presenting these at the foot of the page along with the text to which they refer, where alone they may be easily consulted. In the Notes — and here, again, I have departed from former editors — I have given a full and detailed commentary on each of the poems. From the vast body of material, biographical, historical, critical, and interpretative, that has been written about Poe, I have endeavored to garner whatever will contribute to a truer understanding of his poems or to a juster appreciation of them. And where comment from others was wanting or seemed inadequate, I have attempted to supply the deficiency by researches of my own. In particular, I have addressed myself to the following matters: the circumstances of composition and publication of each of the poems, the relation of the poems to each other and to the tales, the poet’s relation to other poets and to his time, the autobiographical element in his verses, and the judgments passed on his work by his contemporaries.

In the Introduction I have set forth the main facts of the poet’s life, adding certain details of my own discovery; and I have also dealt there with questions of authenticity and authority of text, with the nature and the worth of the poet’s textual revisions, with his sources, and with the diversity of opinion respecting his achievement as poet. [page vi:]

At the end of the collected poems I have brought together four early poems not included by Poe in his collective edition of 1845, and following these I have given most of the poems doubtfully attributed to him. The poems of doubtful authenticity I have included reluctantly, since none of them are worthy of Poe, and some of them, we can be reasonably sure, are not the work of his hand; but I have felt that the student is entitled to have them before him.

The portrait which serves as the frontispiece of this volume is from a painting of Poe by the Philadelphia artist, A. C. Smith, and is reproduced from Graham’s Magazine for February, 1845. It represents the poet as he appeared shortly before the publication of his most famous poem.

In preparing this edition I have naturally put myself under deep obligations to my predecessors. I have endeavored to make acknowledgment of all obligations as they occur, but I wish to make special acknowledgment of my indebtedness to Professor George E. Woodberry and the late Mr. John H. Ingram, to whom we owe our best biographies of Poe, and to the late Professor James A. Harrison, to whom we are indebted for the fullest edition of Poe’s writings. I wish also to make grateful acknowledgment of the courtesy of the Century Club of New York City, in permitting me to avail myself of the revisions made by Poe in the well-known Lorimer Graham copy of his collected poems, and to Mr. J. P. Morgan, of New York City, for his courtesy in allowing me to profit in like manner by several valuable manuscripts of Poe owned by him. I wish, too, to express my gratitude to Professor W. P. Trent, of Columbia University, and to the late Miss Amelia F. Poe, of Baltimore, for many kindnesses. Most of all, I am indebted to two of my colleagues of the University of Texas, Professors Morgan Callaway, Jr., and R. H. Griffith, who have read patiently the proof sheets for this volume and have given me many helpful suggestions and criticisms.









[S:0 - KCP, 1917] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Preface (ed. K. Campbell, 1917)