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Poems and Essays on Poetry

Edgar Allan Poe

Edited by C.H. Sisson

Categories: 19th Century, American
Imprint: FyfieldBooks
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • The skies they were ashen and sober;
       The leaves they were crisped and sere -
       The leaves they were withering and sere;
    It was night in the lonesome October
       Of my most immemorial year;
    It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
      In the misty mid region of Weir -
    It was down the dank tarn of Auber,
      In the ghost-haunted woodland of Weir.

    from Ulalume

    The American poet Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) has suffered as many posthumous buffets and reversals in his reputation as he did in his life. Even before Baudelaire translated his stories and Mallarmé his poems, he was revered in France, while in Britain and even in America his work came to seem haunted, weird, its merits subsumed in the gothic drama of a life drunk (in every sense) to the lees, and early over. Many readers know his poems by heart but are wary of confessing an enthusiasm for lines so sonorous and unfashionable.

    Among the voices urging the merits of Poe's poems and essays is that of C.H. Sisson. In this selection, which makes measured claims for an original and challenging writer, Sisson sides with Baudelaire, Gautier, Mallarmé and Valéry in singling out the unlikely and powerful qualities in Poe's language, qualities inherent in his subject-matter and realised in his verse. 'There is,' Sisson declares, 'a small handful of Poe's poems which are of a clarity and luminosity which make most of the poetry of the nineteenth century look muddy.' His poetry, 'enjoyable but not explicable', attempting 'the rhythmical creation of beauty', is a firm legacy to proponents of la poésie pure as to those for whom paraphrase and moral uplift are not the be-all and end-all of poetry.
    Table of Contents


    To Helen
    The Raven
    The Vallye of Unrest
    Bridal Ballad
    The Sleeper
    The Coliseum
    Catholic Hymn
    Sonnet: To Zante
    The City in the Sea
    To One in Paradise
    T F---s S. O---d
    To F---
    Sonnet: Silence
    The Conqueror Worm
    The Haunted Palace
    Scenese from Politian

    Poems Written in Youth
    Sonnet to Science
    Al Aaraaf
    A Dream
    To the River---
    To Lake. To---

    Later Poems
    A Dream within a Dream
    The Bells
    To Helen
    A Valentine
    An Enigma
    To--- ---
    To my Mother
    To M.L.S---
    For Annie
    Annabel Lee

    Essays on Poetry
    The Poetic Principle
    The Rationale of Verse
    The Philosphy of Composition
    Edgar Allan Poe
    Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, born in 1809, best known for his poetry and short stories. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. ... read more
    C.H. Sisson
    Born in Bristol in 1914, C. H. Sisson was noted as a poet, novelist, essayist and an important translator. He was a great friend of the critic and writer Donald Davie, with whom he corresponded regularly. Sisson was a student at the University of Bristol where he read English and Philosophy. ... read more
    Praise for C.H. Sisson `His poems move in service of the loved landscapes of England and France; they sing (and growl) in love of argument, in love of seeing through, in love of the firm descriptions of moral self-disgust; they move in love of the old lost life by which the new life is condemned.'
    Donald Hall, New York Times Book Review
    'I think he is worth a place on the short shelf reserved for the finest twentieth-century poets, with Eliot and Rilke and MacDiarmid.'
    Robert Nye, the Scotsman
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