Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works.

1845.

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NOTES.

1.  THE RAVEN

“The Raven” was first published on the 29th January, 1845, in the New York ’Evening Mirror’—­a paper its author was then assistant editor of.  It was prefaced by the following words, understood to have been written by N. P. Willis: 

“We are permitted to copy (in advance of publication) from the second number of the ‘American Review’, the following remarkable poem by Edgar Poe.  In our opinion, it is the most effective single example of ‘fugitive poetry’ ever published in this country, and unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conception, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent sustaining of imaginative lift and ‘pokerishness.’  It is one of those ‘dainties bred in a book’ which we feed on.  It will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it.”

In the February number of the ‘American Review’ the poem was published as by “Quarles,” and it was introduced by the following note, evidently suggested if not written by Poe himself.

["The following lines from a correspondent—­besides the deep, quaint strain of the sentiment, and the curious introduction of some ludicrous touches amidst the serious and impressive, as was doubtless intended by the author—­appears to us one of the most felicitous specimens of unique rhyming which has for some time met our eye.  The resources of English rhythm for varieties of melody, measure, and sound, producing corresponding diversities of effect, have been thoroughly studied, much more perceived, by very few poets in the language.  While the classic tongues, especially the Greek, possess, by power of accent, several advantages for versification over our own, chiefly through greater abundance of spondaic feet, we have other and very great advantages of sound by the modern usage of rhyme.  Alliteration is nearly the only effect of that kind which the ancients had in common with us.  It will be seen that much of the melody of ’The Raven’ arises from alliteration and the studious use of similar sounds in unusual places.  In regard to its measure, it may be noted that if all the verses were like the second, they might properly be placed merely in short lines, producing a not uncommon form:  but the presence in all the others of one line—­mostly the second in the verse” (stanza?)—­“which flows continuously, with only an aspirate pause in the middle, like that before the short line in the Sapphio Adonic, while the fifth has at the middle pause no similarity of sound with any part beside, gives the versification an entirely different effect.  We could wish the capacities of our noble language in prosody were better understood.”

  ED.  ‘Am.  Rev.’]

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2.  THE BELLS

The bibliographical history of “The Bells” is curious.  The subject, and some lines of the original version, having been suggested by the poet’s friend, Mrs. Shew, Poe, when he wrote out the first draft of the poem, headed it, “The Bells.  By Mrs. M. A. Shew.”  This draft, now the editor’s property, consists of only seventeen lines, and reads thus: 

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