The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 157

did, in fact, abandon the very unusual wealth which
was his own before the inheritance.

I was not surprised, however, to perceive that he had long made up his
mind on a point which had occasioned so much discussion to his friends.
Nor was I greatly astonished at the nature of his decision. In regard to
individual charities he had satisfied his conscience. In the possibility
of any improvement, properly so called, being effected by man himself in
the general condition of man, he had (I am sorry to confess it) little
faith. Upon the whole, whether happily or unhappily, he was thrown back,
in very great measure, upon self.

In the widest and noblest sense he was a poet. He comprehended,
moreover, the true character, the august aims, the supreme majesty and
dignity of the poetic sentiment. The fullest, if not the sole proper
satisfaction of this sentiment he instinctively felt to lie in the
creation of novel forms of beauty. Some peculiarities, either in his
early education, or in the nature of his intellect, had tinged with
what is termed materialism all his ethical speculations; and it was this
bias, perhaps, which led him to believe that the most advantageous at
least, if not the sole legitimate field for the poetic exercise, lies
in the creation of novel moods of purely physical loveliness. Thus it
happened he became neither musician nor poet--if we use this latter term
in its every-day acceptation. Or it might have been that he neglected
to become either, merely in pursuance of his idea that in contempt of
ambition is to be found one of the essential principles of happiness on
earth. Is it not indeed, possible that, while a high order of genius
is necessarily ambitious, the highest is above that which is termed
ambition? And may it not thus happen that many far greater than Milton
have contentedly remained "mute and inglorious?" I believe that the
world has never seen--and that, unless through some series of accidents
goading the noblest order of mind into distasteful exertion, the world
will never see--that full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer
domains of art, of which the human nature is absolutely capable.

Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived more
profoundly enamored of music and poetry. Under other circumstances than
those which invested him, it is not impossible that he would have become
a painter. Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously poetical was too
limited in its extent and consequences, to have occupied, at any time,
much of his attention. And I have now mentioned all the provinces

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Text Comparison with The Raven

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_ "'Tell me truly, I implore-- Is there--_is_ there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!'" _W.
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a drunkard, was but one perpetual effort to escape the influence of this antipathetical atmosphere.
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may not inspire the Fantasy that peoples with images the interlunar vague.
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_The Raven_, also, has consistent qualities which even an expert must admire.
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It may be that those who care for poetry lost little by his death.
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Ingram, after referring to "Lady Geraldine," cleverly points out another source from which Poe may have caught an impulse.
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" I select from Mr.
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The _tone_ of the highest Beauty is one of Sadness.
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But the piece affords a fine display of romantic material.
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Critics and biographers have come forward with successive refutations, with tributes to his character, with new editions of his works.
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What is the result? Dore proffers a series of variations upon the theme as he conceived it, "the enigma of death and the hallucination of an inconsolable soul.
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Darkness there, and nothing more.
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Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
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" "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!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
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" And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, 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] "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.
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" [Illustration] "Wandering from the Nightly shore.