Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Hexameter,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), p. 339 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 339, continued:]


This single line in Poe’s essay “Notes Upon English Verse” is described as “an unintentional instance of a perfect English hexameter formed upon the model of the Greek.” In 1845 he gave it in one of his installments of the series now called “Marginalia” where he introduces it, remarking that “no one has seemed to suspect that the natural preponderance of spondaic words in Latin and Greek must, in the English, be supplied by art — that is to say, by a careful culling of the few spondaic words which the language affords,” and adds: “This, to all intents, is a Greek Hexameter, but then its spondees are spondees, and not mere trochees.” The two statements seem somewhat inconsistent, but the second seems to me a claim to Poe’s invention of the line. The word “unintentional” may have been carelessly used because the line came into his head spontaneously. It expresses a complete and serious idea.


(A) Boston Pioneer, March 1843 (1:111), in “Notes Upon English Verse”; (B) Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book for August 1845 (31:51), in “Marginal Notes”; (C) Works (1850), III, 582, in “Marginalia,” number CCVI. The latest text (C) is followed; the surviving fragments of the manuscript from which the first form (A) was printed do not include the section in which the monostich occurs. The title is from the context; there are no variants.





[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Hexameter)