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[192] A certain quaintness or grotesqueness of tone is a means for satisfying the thirst for supernal beauty. Hence the musical lyric is to Poe the only true type of poetry; a long poem does not exist. Readers who respond more readily to auditory than to visual or motor stimulus are therefore Poe's chosen audience. For them he executes, like Paganini, marvels upon his single string. He has easily recognizable devices: the dominant note, the refrain, the “repetend,” that is to say the phrase which echoes, with some variation, a phrase or line already used. In such poems as To Helen, Israfel, the haunted Palace, Annabel Lee, the theme, the tone, the melody all weave their magic spell; it is like listening to a lute-player in a dream.

That the device often turns into a trick is equally true. In The Bells and The Raven we detect the prestidigitator. It is jugglery, though such juggling as only a master-musician can perform. In Ulalume and other show-pieces the wires get crossed and the charm snaps, scattering tinsel fragments of nonsense verse. Such are the dangers of the technical temperament unenriched by wide and deep contact with human feeling.

Poe's theory of the art of the short story is

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Edgar Allan Poe (3)
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