Monday, January 19, 2009

January 19: Poe on Poetry (Vol. 28, pp. 317-380)

On this day in 1809, Edgar Allen Poe was born. The man who gave us the detective story, perfected the mystery short story and produced America's first great poems here sets down his ideas on poetry.

In "The Poetic Principle," Poe tries to sweep away the cant associated with 19th century poetry — it has to be long, it has to have a moral, every poem should aim for truth with a capital T — and instead puts forth the radical (for the time) notion of poetry for its own sake.

Taking that a step further, Poe states that he believes poetry and truth are often incompatible and that beauty "is the atmosphere and the real essence of the poem."

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