Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Life and Literary Remains of L. E. L. ,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. X: Literary Criticism - part 03 (1902), pp. 195-196


[page 195, continued:]


[Graham’s Magazine, August, 1841.]

THIS work contains the most authentic biography of the lamented L. E. L. yet issued from the press, together with a collection of her posthumous pieces, and several lighter effusions already published. The volumes possess uncommon interest. The detail of her every-day life, the picture of her gaiety and sweetness, and the criticisms on her genius will commend it to all who have loved, in other days, the poetry of this sweet writer. Nor will the details of her melancholy death prove of less interest. After fully examining all the evidence relating to this tragedy, the author arrives at the conclusion that her death was natural, and instigated neither by her own sorrows nor by the jealousy of others. The conduct of her husband seems, in every respect, to have been without censure.

Of the genius of Miss Landon it is almost unnecessary to speak. Without the elegance of Mrs. Hemans, she had considerable grace; with a fine ear, she was often careless in her rhythm; possessing a fancy exuberant and glowing, she showered her metaphors too indiscriminately around her. But few equalled her — if we may so speak — in the pauionate purity of her [page 196:] verse. Affection breathed through every line she wrote. Perhaps there was a mannerism, certainly an affectation, in her constant reference to love, and blighted love especially; but even this error was made seductive by the never ceasing variety which she contrived to throw around her theme, and the sweetness, richness, and enthusiasm of her song. Her great faults were a want of method, and a careless, rapid habit of composition. From first to last, she was emphatically an “improvisatrice.” She wrote from whim rather than from plan, and consequently was often trite, and always careless. These observations will apply, we think, equally to her prose. Her “Ethell Churchill” may be taken as a specimen, and the best specimen, of her style in romance writing. It would be almost invidious to name any one of her long poems as the finest. In her shorter pieces she is often more successful than in more extended flights; and some of her most carelessly written stanzas glitter most with the dew of Castaly. Without fear of contradiction, we may say that she has left no living female poet to compete with her in fame, unless Mrs. Norton may be said to be her rival; and even with Mrs. Norton, so different are the two writers, no parallel can be drawn. Let us be contented with placing Hemans, Landon, and Norton together in one glorious trio — the sweetest, brightest, loftiest of the female poets of the present generation.





[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Life and Literary Remains of L. E. L.)