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[191] over. Very few men can. Given Poe's temperament, and the problem is insoluble. He wrote to Lowell in 1844: “I have been too deeply conscious of the mutability and evanescence of temporal things to give any continuous effort to anything — to be consistent in anything. My life has been whim--impulse-passion — a longing for solitude-a scorn of all things present in an earnest desire for the future.” It is the pathetic confession of a dreamer. Yet this dreamer was also a keen analyzer, a tireless creator of beautiful things. In them he sought and found a refuge from actuality. The marvel of his career is, as I have said elsewhere, that this solitary, embittered craftsman, out of such hopeless material as negations and abstractions, shadows and superstitions, out of disordered fancies and dreams of physical horror and strange crime, should have wrought structures of imperishable beauty.

Let us notice the critical instinct which he brought to the task of creation. His theory of verse is simple, in fact too simple to account for all of the facts. The aim of poetry, according to Poe, is not truth but pleasure — the rhythmical creation of beauty. Poetry should be brief, indefinite, and musical. Its chief instrument is sound.

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Edgar Allan Poe (2)
James Russell Lowell (1)
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