The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 17

We know it from hearsay, and we mention it in connection with this sad
infirmity of physical constitution; which puts it upon very nearly the
ground of a temporary and almost irresponsible insanity.

The arrogance, vanity, and depravity of heart, of which Mr. Poe was
generally accused, seem to us referable altogether to this reversed
phase of his character. Under that degree of intoxication which only
acted upon him by demonizing his sense of truth and right, he doubtless
said and did much that was wholly irreconcilable with his better nature;
but, when himself, and as we knew him only, his modesty and unaffected
humility, as to his own deservings, were a constant charm to his
character. His letters, of which the constant application for autographs
has taken from us, we are sorry to confess, the greater portion,
exhibited this quality very strongly. In one of the carelessly written
notes of which we chance still to retain possession, for instance, he
speaks of "The Raven"--that extraordinary poem which electrified the
world of imaginative readers, and has become the type of a school of
poetry of its own-and, in evident earnest, attributes its success to
the few words of commendation with which we had prefaced it in this
paper.--It will throw light on his sane character to give a literal copy
of the note:

"FORDHAM, April 20, 1849

"My DEAR WILLIS--The poem which I inclose, and which I am so vain as to
hope you will like, in some respects, has been just published in a paper
for which sheer necessity compels me to write, now and then. It pays
well as times go-but unquestionably it ought to pay ten prices; for
whatever I send it I feel I am consigning to the tomb of the Capulets.
The verses accompanying this, may I beg you to take out of the tomb, and
bring them to light in the 'Home journal?' If you can oblige me so far
as to copy them, I do not think it will be necessary to say 'From the
----, that would be too bad; and, perhaps, 'From a late ---- paper,'
would do.

"I have not forgotten how a 'good word in season' from you made 'The
Raven,' and made 'Ulalume' (which by-the-way, people have done me the
honor of attributing to you), therefore, I would ask you (if I dared) to
say something of these

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