« VorigeDoorgaan »
1811 - 1849.
EDGAR ALLAN POE, perhaps the most brilliant, and surely the most unfortunate, of young American poets, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1811, and died in 1819. Left a penniless orphan on the death of his parents, who were members of the theatrical profession, he was adopted by a rich merchant of Baltimore, and sent to school. In 1822 he entered the University of Virginia, but his habits soon becanie so dissolute as to conspel his expulsion. His benefactor refusing young Poe's demands for money to be squandered at the gaming-table, the latter resolved to go, like Byron, to the aid of the strugưling Greeks. He went to Europe, but never reached the theater of war, and in about a year was sent home by the United States Consul at St. Petersburg. His long-suffering benefactor next procured him an appointment to West Point; but the high-spirited youth could not endure the strict discipline of cadet-life, and in less than a year he was again expelled. Again he was received at the house of his benefactor, but his stay, this time, was short; for some offense whose nature has never been clearly explained, he was shut out forever from the house that liad been his only home. He at once entered upon that career of literary Bohemianism which was to end only with his life. In 1829 a small collection of his poems was published in Baltimore, and was received with encouraging favor ; but his literary work done prior to his twenty-fourth year had little permanent value. While editing the Southern Literary Messenger, at Richmond, Virginia, 1835 – 37, he married his consin, Virginia Clemm. In 1839 he went to New York, where he wrote for newspapers and magazines, and in 1840 to Philadelphia, where he edited Graham's Magazine. Returning to the tirst-named city, he engaged in miscellaneous literary labor, contributing his most famous poem, The Raven, to Colton's Whig Review, in February, 1815. His life, during the next four years, was a sad one; poverty continually oppressed him ; his loving and suffering wife was taken from him; and, at last, having become almost a vagabond, he was carried to the Baltimore Hospital, where he died, October 7, 1819, aged thirty-eight years. Although Poe is best known as a poet, many of the ablest critics agree that he was even greater as a writer of tales. In this department of literature he occupied a niche in which he has had no successor. His imagination was exceptionally powerful, his love of the weird and marvelous very strong, and his skill in producing somber and uncanny effects was extraordinary.' Though he wrote a good deal of verse, but a small proportion of it is worthy of his genius. As a critic he was remarkable mainly for his violent abusiveness, and his Literati of New York City, though spicy reading, gives no evidence of high critical power. Two or three of his poems, The Raven, The Bells, Annabel Lee, and perhaps some others, will always be read and admired. The story of his short life conveys a solemn warning, and suggests the thought that the most brilliant intellectual gifts are a curse rather than a blessing, if unaccompanied by a vigorous directing and controlling moral sense.
It confirms, too, the notion that marked precocity is unfavorable to, if not absolutely incompatible with, healthy and fruitful intellectual development. In the most prosperous natures, the moral growth precedes the mental, - is its guide and support. Yet Poe is to be pitied rather than condemned : his faults grew out of his misfortunes.
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
By the name of Annabel Lee;
Than to love, and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea ;
I and my Annabel Lee,
Coveted her and me.
The angels, not so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me.
In this kingdom by the sea,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we,
far wiser than we;
Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee,
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
In her sepulcher there by the sea,
FROM THE RAVEN.
ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Only this, and nothing more."
Open then I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, grave
and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure ro
craven ; Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore, Tell me what thy lordly name is on the night's Plutonian shore ?”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore !”
HEAR the sledges with the bells,
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
With a crystalline delight, ---
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
Bells, bells, bells,
Hear the mellow wedding bells, —
Golden bells !
Through the balmy air of night
And all in tune,
On the moon !
How it swells !
How it dwells
Of the rapture that impels
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells, –
Hear the loud alarum bells,
Brazen bells !
In the startled ear of night
Too much horrified to speak,
Out of tume,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
Now now to sit or never,
O the bells, bells, bells,
What a horror they outpour
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
Of the bells,
Bells, bells, bells, -
Hear the tolling of the bells,
Iron bells ! What a world of solemn thought their monody compels
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
For every sound that floats