The Complete Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe Including Essays on Poetry

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 189

be made to spring from direct
causes--that objects should be attained through means best adapted for
their attainment--no one as yet having been weak enough to deny that the
peculiar elevation alluded to is _most readily_ attained in the poem.
Now the object Truth, or the satisfaction of the intellect, and the
object Passion, or the excitement of the heart, are, although attainable
to a certain extent in poetry, far more readily attainable in prose.
Truth, in fact, demands a precision, and Passion a _homeliness_ (the
truly passionate will comprehend me) which are absolutely antagonistic
to that Beauty which, I maintain, is the excitement, or pleasurable
elevation, of the soul. It by no means follows from anything here said
that passion, or even truth, may not be introduced, and even profitably
introduced, into a poem--for they may serve in elucidation, or aid the
general effect, as do discords in music, by contrast--but the true
artist will always contrive, first, to tone them into proper
subservience to the predominant aim, and secondly, to enveil them, as
far as possible, in that Beauty which is the atmosphere and the essence
of the poem.

Regarding, then, Beauty as my province, my next question referred to the
_tone_ of its highest manifestation--and all experience has shown that
this tone is one of _sadness_. Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme
development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy
is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.

The length, the province, and the tone being thus determined, I betook
myself to ordinary induction, with the view of obtaining some artistic
piquancy which might serve me as a key-note in the construction of the
poem--some pivot upon which the whole structure might turn. In carefully
thinking over all the usual artistic effects--or more properly _points_,
in the theatrical sense--I did not fail to perceive immediately that no
one had been so universally employed as that of the _refrain_. The
universality of its employment sufficed to assure me of its intrinsic
value, and spared me the necessity of submitting it to analysis. I
considered it, however, with regard to its susceptibility of
improvement, and soon saw it to be in a primitive condition. As commonly
used, the _refrain_, or burden, not only is limited to lyric verse, but
depends for its impression upon the force of monotone--both in sound and
thought. The pleasure is deduced solely from the sense of identity--of
repetition. I resolved to diversify, and so heighten the effect, by
adhering in general to the monotone of sound, while I continually varied
that of thought: that is to say, I determined

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Text Comparison with The Raven Illustrated

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[Illustration: 0013] THE RAVEN |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.
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" [Illustration: 9015] Presently my soul grew stronger; Hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly Your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, And so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, Tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"-- Here I opened .
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[Illustration: 0017] Then into the chamber turning, All my soul within me burning, Soon I heard again a tapping Something louder than before.
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When, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven [Illustration: 8020] Of the saintly days of yore.
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Nothing farther then he uttered; Not a feather then he fluttered-- Till I scarcely more than muttered, " Other friends have flown before-- On the morrow he will leave me, As my hopes have flown before.
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" But the Raven still beguiling All my sad soul into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in Front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking What this ominous bird of yore-- What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, Gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking " Nevermore.
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" [Illustration: 0029] [Illustration: 0031] [Illustration: 9031] "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!-- Prophet still, if bird or devil!-- Whether Tempter sent, or whether Tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate, yet all undaunted, On this desert land enchanted-- On this home by Horror haunted-- Tell me truly, I implore-- Is there,--is there balm in Gilead?-- Tell me--tell me, I implore!" .
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" Quoth the Raven, " Nevermore.
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And the lamplight o'er him streaming Throws his shadow on the floor, And my soul from out that shadow That lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore! [Illustration: 0035].