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Sunday, December 13, 2020
THE POETIC PRINCIPLE
EDGAR ALLAN POE
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) was born in Boston, the child of actors who died while he was very young. He was adopted by a Virginian gentleman, Mr. John Allan, who put him to school in England for five years, then in Richmond, and finally sent him to the University of Virginia. He remained there only a short time, and after finding that he disliked business, and publishing a volume of poems, he enlisted in the army. Mr. Allan had him discharged and placed him in West Point, from which he got himself dismissed. After that he supported himself in a hand-to-mouth fashion by writing for and editing newspapers and periodicals, living successively in Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York. The publication of his remarkable poem, "The Raven," in 1845, brought him fame, and for a short time he was a literary lion. But in 1847 his wife died, and his two remaining years were a gradual descent.
Poe's work falls into three divisions: poems, tales, and criticism. The poems are chiefly remarkable for the amazing technical skill with which haunting rhythms and studied successions of vowel and consonant sounds are made to suggest atmospheres and emotional moods, with a minimum of thought. In the writing of fiction, Poe is the great master of the weird tale, no writer having surpassed him in the power of shaking the reader's nerves with suggestions of the supernatural and the horrible. In these stories, as in the poems, he shows an extraordinary sense of form, and his effects are produced not merely by the violently sensational, but by carefully calculated attacks upon the reader's imaginative sensibilities.
In criticism Poe was, if not a scholarly, at least a stimulating and suggestive, writer, with a fine ear and, within his range, keen insight. His essay on "The Poetic Principle" is his poetic confession of faith. He makes clear and defends his conception of poetry; a conception which excludes many great kinds of verse, but which, illuminated as it is by abundant examples of his favorite poems, throws light in turn upon some of the fundamental elements of poetry.
It is worth noting that no American author seems to have enjoyed so great a European vogue as Poe.
THE POETIC PRINCIPLE
In speaking of the Poetic Principle, I have no design to be either thorough or profound. While discussing, very much at random, the essentiality of what we call Poetry, my principal purpose will be to cite for consideration some few of those minor English or American poems which best suit my own taste, or which upon my own fancy have left the most definite impression. By "minor poems" I mean, of course, poems of little length. And here in the beginning permit me to say a few words in regard to a somewhat peculiar principle, which, whether rightfully or wrongfully, has always had its influence in my own critical estimate of the poem. I hold that a long poem does not exist. I maintain that the phrase, "a long poem," is simply a flat contradiction in terms.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Best poetry books of 2020
Clive James’s joyous farewell, David Bowie speaks to Simon Armitage – and sounds of the city from Caleb Femi
Sat 28 Nov 2020 09.00 GMT
Also intense is Caroline Bird’s Forward prize-winning The Air Year (Carcanet). Her sixth collection is a centrifuge of careening energy, where riding love’s rollercoaster is also an opportunity for self-knowledge and acceptance, “blobs of miscellaneous optimism”. It is one of the most generous and open-hearted books of the year. Another title that gives shape to the ineffable is JR Carpenter’s This Is a Picture of Wind (Longbarrow). It’s a digitally tinged pillow book full of staccato language inspired by John Ruskin’s “sky-bottling days”, Francis Beaufort’s wind scale and Luke Howard’s observations of clouds: “Matter invested with a luminous quality … The breath became visible.”
Natalie Diaz’s meditations on stolen land, stolen water and erased bodies in Postcolonial Love Poem (Faber) are equally luminous: “I am your Native, / and this is my American labyrinth.” Her language is rich and epigrammatic, its physicality enhanced by its unruffled cadences. Mining in similar territory, How to Wash a Heart (Pavilion) by Bhanu Kapil sharply explores what it is like to be permanently on edge when you feel like you are permanently a guest as an immigrant.THE GUARDIAN