Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of The Broken Vow and Other Poems,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 250-252


[page 250, continued:]


[Broadway Journal, Oct. 11, 1845.]

AN octavo of more than 320 pages, beautifully printed on fine paper, “embellished” with six expensive steel engravings (including a portrait of the authoress,) and showily as well as substantially bound.

The name — Amanda M. Edmond — is quite unknown to us: although if we may judge from the number of poems contained in the volume (110) the fair poetess must have been for several years before the public. Perhaps, however, she may have employed a nom-de-plume, or written altogether anonymously. We do not remember having before seen any one poem of the collection. They are by no means impressive. The subjects, generally, are such as find favor in boarding schools. Many of the pieces are on [page 251:] abolition topics. Some of them, from their character, have no right to the title of poem, and should not have been included in the volume: we refer to such things as “Washing-Day” and “Illi cui Carmina applicent” — mere doggrel. In the minor merits Miss Edmond is not particularly deficient. Her English, her versification, and her imagery, are at least respectable — but in the virtues of the Muse — in the loftier and distinctive attributes, we are pained to say that she is totally wanting. We look in vain throughout her volume for one spark of poetic fire. In justice, we cull what we consider the best specimen of her powers:


Beautiful moon! oh, how I love to hail

Thy glorious coming in the eastern sky,

When starry gems along thy pathway lie,

Trembling and turning in thy presence pale;

Brightest adorner of Night’s pensive brow,

Fairest of all her radiant jewels, thou!

Wreathing with light the fleecy cloud that veils

With its thin mantle, for a little space,

The full-orbed lustre of thy beaming face —

Casting thy splendor on the sleeping dales,

Fields, woods and waters that beneath thee rest,

With Night’s dark shadows on thy peaceful breast —

Oh, I do love thee! but the most, sweet moon,

In the still hour of midnight’s sacred noon;

Calm then are spirits that with day have striven,

And Earth’s repose seems kin to that of Heaven!

We have said that the English of Miss Edmond is generally respectable; but in the very first sentence of the Preface there is an ambiguity which, in a second [page 252:] edition, should be cleared up. “A poetical contribution” says the poetess, “offered to the public, presupposes in the author the existence of the true spirit of song.” Now a poetical contribution, so offered, presupposes in the author only about the ten thousandth part of what Miss Edmond (no doubt through mere grammatical inadvertence) has maintained it to presuppose. The “poetical contribution” presupposes in the author not the existence but the conviction of the existence, of “the true spirit of song” — and here there is about the same difference as between Peter Schlemihl and his Shadow.





[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of The Broken Vow and Other Poems)