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genius whatever else he profaned. "Irene," " Ulalume," " Lenore," " Annabel Lee," "Annie," are all gentle, and innocent, and fairy-like. A sound of music—rising as from an unseen Ariel—brings in a most pure and lovely figure—sad, usually; so delicate and dreamy are these conceptions that, indeed, they hint only of some transcendant beauty—some region where passion has no place, where
Music, and moonlight, and feeling,
as Shelley says.
Poe loved splendour,—he delighted in the gorgeous—in ancient birth—in tropical flowers—in Southern birds—in castellated dwellings. The hero of his "Raven" sits on a "violet velvet lining;" the dead have "crested palls." He delighted, as Johnson says of Collins, "to gaze on the magnificence of golden palaces, to repose by the waterfalls of Elysian gardens." His scenery is everywhere magnificent. His Genius is always waited upon with the splendour of an Oriental monarch.
I have spoken of the tinge of melancholy which gives an effect like moonlight to all that he has done. I have said elsewhere that his " genius, like the eyes of a Southern girl, is at once dark and luminous."* "The Raven," "Ulalume," "For Annie," all turn on Death. And this melancholy, too, is of a heathen character. You might say that his book is funestus. The stamp of sorrow is upon it, as cypress hung over the doors of a house among the ancients when a death had happened there. Remembering this, one must admit that his range is narrow. He has, for instance, no Humour—had little sympathy with the various forms of human life. But he is perfectly poetic in his own province. If his circle was a narrow, it was a magic one. His poetry is sheer poetry, and borrows nothing from without, as Didactic Poetry does. For Didactic Poetry he had a very strong and a very justifiable dislike.
* "singleton Fontenoy," vol. ii.
His melody is his own. You will find a music in each poem which is inseparable from the sentiment of it. He gives a certain musical air as a soul to each poem, but he works up the details as an artist Witness " The Raven" or " The Bells." Everything he has done is finished in detail, and has received its final touches. He had an exquisite eye for proportion, and every little poem is carved like a cameo.
Such are the hints which I have to prefix to this American Poet,—and with three-times-three from a select band of his admirers, he is now launched on the English public!
James Hannay. London, November, 1852.
TO THE NOBLEST OF HER SEX-
TO MISS ELIZABETH BARRETT BARRETT,
I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME,
WITH THE MOST ENTHUSIASTIC ADMIRATION, AND WITH THE MOST SINCEEE ESTEEM,
E. A. P.
These trifles are collected and republished chiefly with a view to their redemption from the many improvements to which they have been subjected while going at random the "rounds of the press." I am naturally anxious that what I have written should circulate as I wrote it, if it circulate at all. In defence of my own taste, nevertheless, it is incumbent upon me to say that I think nothing in this volume of much value to the public, or very creditable to myself. Events not to be controlled have prevented me from making, at any time, any serious effort in what, under happier circumstances, would have been the field of my choice. With me poetry has been not a purpose, but the passion; and the passions should be held in reverence; they must not—they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind.
E. A. P.
Once'upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered,
weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten
lore— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there
came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my
chamber door. "Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my
Only this, and nothing more."