The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe
Publisher: Signet Classics
Pages: 139 – including introduction, afterword, and bibliography (Paperback)
Format: Poetry Collection
Although best known for his short stories, Edgar Allan Poe was by nature and choice a poet. This edition of his complete poetry illustrates the transcendent world of unity and ultimate beauty he created in his verse. From the exquisite lyric “To Helen” to his immortal masterpieces “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells,” and “The Raven,” Poe stands beside the celebrated English Romantic poets Shelley, Byron and Keats, and his haunting, sensuous poetic vision profoundly influenced the Victorian giants Swinburne, Tennyson, and Rossetti.
Today his dark side speaks eloquently to contemporary readers in poems such as “The Haunted Palace” and “The Conqueror Worm,” with their powerful images of madness and the macabre. But even at the end of his life, Poe reached out to his art for comfort and courage, giving us in “Eldorado” a talisman to hold during our darkest moments – a timeless gift from a great American writer.
This is going to be a very short review because, to be honest, I don’t have much to say. With a few notable exceptions such as “The Bells“, I feel pretty ambivalent about almost every single poem in this collection. This probably reflects more on me than Poe, however; I simply struggle to focus and take in poetry that doesn’t have much narrative – the words and sounds just seem wash over me in a way that makes me lose track of what’s actually meant to be going on. And Poe I find especially difficult – it just feels too flowery and too overblown that I’m left with a sense of pretty sounding but meaningless nonsense when I suspect I’m meant to be taking away something more profound or emotional. Maybe sometime when I’m feeling more up for it I’ll go back, do some more research into Poe’s life and influences, read and reared each line more thoroughly, and apply some proper critical thinking- I tend to understand and enjoy poetry a bit more once I have a decent context – but it’s a pretty big ‘maybe’. Poe just doesn’t strike me in the same way that someone like John Donne does, I don’t feel an urge to revist and tease out the references and meanings but am happy simply to return it to the bookshelf and let myself forget the contents. Not a bad book (I suspect) but ultimately just not quite my thing.