Text: Elizabeth Wiley, “Acknowledgments,” Concordance of the Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, (1989), pp. 7-10 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 7:]


“A concordance is a handy book we should like somebody else to compile.” So said Bradford A. Booth and Claude E. Jones, compilers of A Concordance of the Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (The Johns Hopkins Press, 1941; reprinted, Peter Smith, 1967). Reading it, I am reminded of the debt I owe to Professors Booth and Jones. Preparing their text more than forty years ago, they had no electronic assistance to ease “the tedious and uninspiring labor” they described as their lot. Their reward, I trust, lay in the stimulus which that first concordance provided to Poe scholarship, especially the new interest in Poe’s diction.

During the four decades since the Booth-Jones concordance appeared, scholarship has unearthed additional versions of the poems. The Thomas Ollive Mabbott edition (Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1 [Harvard University Press, 1969]) represents the culmination of a lifetime of distinguished Poe scholarship and seems an ideal edition on which to base a new concordance. The Mabbott edition will surely be the definitive one for decades to come; another advantage is its ready accessibility to Poe scholars.

In preparing the new concordance, my assistants and I found the “labor” described by Professors Booth and Jones considerably reduced by the aid of a Hewlett-Packard 3000 computer, made available to us by Susquehanna University. We have, however, tried to practice the “painstaking exactness” mentioned by our predecessors and evident in their work.

Using the Mabbott text (which includes variant forms of some poems and variant readings of the others, where variants exist), the poems were entered and stored in 111 disc files, one poem to a file, using an IMAGE/3000 data base and EDIT/3000. A computer line usually represents a whole line of poetry; because of the restrictions of the computer line, however, some exceptionally long lines (in “The Raven” and “Lenore,” for example) had to be judiciously divided in half. The text was then scanned to find each word in the line. A word was considered to be a contiguous grouping of letters in the alphabet plus apostrophes. (There is one exception to this rule: the character-group “-I” does not signal the end of a word. Found only in the prose matter—primarily in the stage directions for “Politian”—and indicating a word divided at the end of a text line, it is illustrated by Naught-lily, which is represented in the concordance as HAUGHTILY.) When a word was found, it was entered, together with its location in the text. After all the material had been [page 8:] entered, the actual concordance was produced by QUERY/3000. Word entries in the concordance were sorted in letter-by-letter order. Some modifications were necessary, however, in the computer’s “reading” of the material:

1. Certain word-groupings read as separate words (names like “Di Broglio” and “San Ozzo”) have been listed in their complete form.

2. Hyphenated words are listed in several forms: under each of the words involved (so that long-forgotten may be found under both long and forgotten). When the hyphenated word would be the only example under the first word (big-wigs, for example), there is no separate listing under the first word, although it is listed under the second. Hyphenation that merely separates the prefix from the root of the word (re-enter, for example) is listed only under the complete word, not under each half of the hyphenated word. When a word occurs in both hyphenated and unhyphenated form, the hyphenated form is listed first in the concordance.

3. The apostrophe is used to represent several things: the possessive of a noun, less frequently the plural, and the omission of one or more letters. The computer, of course, reads all apostrophes the same. In this concordance, no distinction has been made between the uses, with a few exceptions. When the apostrophe occurs at the beginning of a word (‘T = it) or the end of a word (T’ = to), it is listed alphabetically, disregarding the apostrophe, but with a reference to the full form of the word.

At the beginning of each group of entries, the word is listed in capital letters, followed by two numbers within parentheses: ABOUT (35 26), for instance. The first number represents the total number of times the word appears, in both the base text and the variant forms of the text; the second number is the incidence of the word in the base text alone.

The format for each entry is uniform. The line (or half-line) of verse is followed by four columns of information:

1. The volume number (here 1) of the Mabbott edition. In anticipation of extending this project to include the Mabbott two-volume edition of short stories and sketches, Burton Pollin’s edition of the long fiction, as well as additional prose (Eureka, the marginalia, and other essays), I have included this designation, although it is obviously not essential here.

2. The page number of the Mabbott text. This accounting is helpful to anyone using the Mabbott edition, but it is not required in the identification of the poem, because the next two columns provide that information.

3. The line number, counting from the beginning of the poem (not, for instance, from the top of the page listed, unless the poem begins on that page). The line-number column also provides information to identify variant forms of the line. For instance, if the base (Mabbott) text is the [page 9:] (A) version, and the (B) version includes some variations, the altered line will be labeled “72B” and may be identified in the Key to Titles as well. In addition to letter designations, representing various editions, the asterisk (*) is occasionally used, to indicate changes made between editions. These are also treated as variants.

Comprehensive lists of words that occur only in the poems and their variants are supplied as appendixes at the end of the concordance, along with the frequency of their appearance. Words that have been entirely excluded from the computer’s classification—including words found in the prose works only—are accounted for below.

In a few poems, a variant form involves additional lines inserted in the poem, either at the beginning or between stanzas. Since there is no space (numerically) for these lines if we retain the original line numbers, we have devised an alternative method of designating these interpolations.

a. When the lines occur before the first line of the original poem, they are labeled 0.1, etc.

b. When they occur between stanzas, they are numbered from the last line before the interpolated ones: 24.1, e.g.

4. The designating label for the poem, necessarily an abbreviated form of the title. It may be identified by referring to the Key to Titles, which contains both the abbreviation and the full title (or, when necessary, the first line of the poem).

Although the computer used for this concordance had impressive capabilities—far beyond the requirements of this project—it lacked two “skills” that would have facilitated the project considerably. It was incapable of recording italics and accent marks. Accents could be added manually with little effort, but we had to resort to underlining the italicized words.

All of the poems identified by Mabbott as a part of the Poe canon and printed in his 1969 edition have been included in this concordance. The works listed in his appendixes under various headings have not been included, for equally varied reasons. Appendix 1 (“Serious Rhymes in Prose”) consists of prose passages from three of the short stories and will be included in the prose portion of the concordance. Their coincidental rhyming did not seem sufficiently significant to justify printing them here as well. Appendix 2 (“Comic Rhymes”) contains rhymes either used as parodies of foreign poems (to illustrate a character’s ignorance of foreign languages) or to create comic effects in prose passages (“We are violently enamoured of gas and glass.” [“The Philosophy of Furniture”]). These illustrations will also appear in the prose concordance. Appendix 3 (“Collaborations”) consists of poems by others with revisions by Poe; precisely what was revised would be very difficult to determine, and the scholar who wishes to analyze Poe’s poetic style might draw erroneous conclusions from this material, as well as from appendix 4 (“Apocrypha”), [page 10:] which includes works at one time identified as Poe’s but now questioned or excluded from the canon. The final section (“Poems by Members of Poe’s Family”) obviously has no place in this concordance.

In addition to the verse passages, I have included the (prose) stage directions for “Politian,” feeling that they might be of benefit to someone studying the play. The stage directions are distinguished by a lowercase d after the line number: for example, “(throwing himself upon his knee) 1 273 32d POLI.” Since the stage directions are ignored in designating line numbers in a scene, it was necessary to identify those entries in a different way. Numbering begins at the top of each page, counting divided poetic lines as two rather than one, so that the number represented in the example would indicate that the phrase occurred in the thirty-second actual line appearing on page 273.

Incidence of Words Excluded from the Concordance

A 729
AM 50
AN 87
AND 1159
ARE 125
BE 189
BUT 235
HAD 78
HAVE 131
HE 119
HE’D 1
HE’S 10
HER 250
HIM 79
HIS 154
I 491
I’D 6
I’LL 35
I’M 32
I’VE 12
IN 667
IS 326
IT 345
ITS 123
IT’S 8
ME 268
MY 460
OF 1063
OUR 44
SHE 107
THE 2141
US 41
WAS 158
WE 90
YOU 224



Note: For this online presentation, the underlined text has been rendered as italic, in keeping with the original intention.


[S:0 - CPEAP, 1989] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works-Concordance of the Poetry of EAP (E. Wiley) (Introduction)