Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Prose and Verse of Thomas Hood (Part III)l,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 235-237


[page 235, continued:]


[Broadway Journal, Aug. 30, 1845.]

OF this number of the Library we said a few words in our last, but we shall be pardoned for referring to it again, as it contains several of the most characteristic, as well as most meritorious compositions of one of the most remarkable men of his time.

The quizzical Letters entitled “Copyright and Copywrong” should be read by all true friends and fair enemies of International Copyright. The strong points of the question of copyright, generally, were never more forcibly, if ever more ludicrously, put.

“The Bridge of Sighs” is, with one exception, [page 236:] the finest poem written by Hood. It has been much admired and often quoted — but we have no hesitation in complying with a friend’s request, to copy it in full. We must omit it, however, till next week.

“The Haunted House” we prefer to any composition of its author. It is a masterpiece of its kind — and that kind belongs to a very lofty — if not to the very loftiest order of poetical literature. Had we seen this piece before penning our first notice of Hood, we should have had much hesitation in speaking of Fancy and Fantasy as his predominant features. At all events we should have given him credit for much more of true Imagination than we did.

Not the least merit of the work is its rigorous simplicity. There is no narrative, and no doggrel philosophy. The whole subject is the description of a deserted house, which the popular superstition considers haunted. The thesis is one of the truest in all poetry. As a mere thesis it is really difficult to conceive anything better. The strength of the poet is put forth in the invention of traits in keeping with the ideas of crime, abandonment, and ghostly visitation. Every legitimate art is brought in to aid in conveying the intended effects; and (what is quite remarkable in the case of Hood) nothing discordant is at any point introduced. He has here very little of what we have designated as the phantastic — little which is not strictly harmonious. The metre and rhythm are not only, in themselves, admirably adapted to the whole design, but, with a true artistic feeling, the poet has preserved a thorough monotone throughout, and renders its effect more impressive by the repetition (gradually increasing in frequency towards the finale) of one of the most pregnant and effective of the stanzas: [page 237:]

O’er all there hung a shadow and a fear;

A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,

And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,

The place is haunted!

We quote a few of the most impressive quatrains:

  · · · · · · ·  


Had Hood only written “The Haunted House” it would have sufficed to render him immortal.





[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Prose and Verse of Thomas Hood (Part III)l)