The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 8

a safer augury might have been drawn. They show the patient
investigator, the close student of history, and the unwearied explorer
of the beauties of predecessors, but they give no assurances of a man
who should add aught to stock of household words, or to the rarer
and more sacred delights of the fireside or the arbor. The earliest
specimens of Shelley's poetic mind already, also, give tokens of that
ethereal sublimation in which the spirit seems to soar above the regions
of words, but leaves its body, the verse, to be entombed, without hope
of resurrection, in a mass of them. Cowley is generally instanced as a
wonder of precocity. But his early insipidities show only a capacity
for rhyming and for the metrical arrangement of certain conventional
combinations of words, a capacity wholly dependent on a delicate
physical organization, and an unhappy memory. An early poem is only
remarkable when it displays an effort of _reason, _and the rudest verses
in which we can trace some conception of the ends of poetry, are worth
all the miracles of smooth juvenile versification. A school-boy, one
would say, might acquire the regular see-saw of Pope merely by an
association with the motion of the play-ground tilt.

Mr. Poe's early productions show that he could see through the verse to
the spirit beneath, and that he already had a feeling that all the life
and grace of the one must depend on and be modulated by the will of the
other. We call them the most remarkable boyish poems that we have
ever read. We know of none that can compare with them for maturity of
purpose, and a nice understanding of the effects of language and metre.
Such pieces are only valuable when they display what we can only express
by the contradictory phrase of _innate experience. _We copy one of the
shorter poems, written when the author was only fourteen. There is a
little dimness in the filling up, but the grace and symmetry of the
outline are such as few poets ever attain. There is a smack of ambrosia
about it.


Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven Edition Table Of Contents And Index Of The Five Volumes

Page 0
Page 1