Poe’s Philosophy of Composition

This is a found poem that I made from Edgar Allen Poe’s “Philosophy of Composition” a couple of years ago and rediscovered today while I was looking for a different poem. Unlike most of my old poems, I still kind of like this one, so I decided to post it.


Backwards—a web of difficulties first.
Before the pen gives its air of consequence,
Radical errors render themselves apparent.

Consideration of an effect
Composes a species of fine frenzy:
A peep behind the crudities of thought.

The rigid consequence of extent
Advances his design of poetical effects
The length of a single sitting.

Effect beauty: the province of the
Most intense, elevating, and pure
When men speak.

An obvious rule of art:
Peculiar elevation alludes to
A homeliness of the soul.

Enveil in that beauty
Its highest manifestation of sadness:
Ordinary induction as a keynote.

Diversify the unvaried refrain
To a single word:

The conception of ill-omen repeating perfection at all points
Is the death of a beautiful woman.
Combine the two ideas.

Construct without scruple purposely enfeebled originality.
Possible metre and stanza alternating less pedantically
Has an indisputable moral power.

His chamber furnished in the ideas of beauty
Made the night tempestuous.
The sonorousness of the fantastic is given entrance.

The lover no longer jests of revolution or fancy
Within the limits of the real,
Nevermore having escaped at midnight.

Through violence seek admission
In poring over a volume
Of the most convenient demeanor.

Immediate echo giving utterance,
The student by self-torture
Will bring the anticipated answer.

Narration has a natural termination,
Rendering prose to seek a meaning
Emblematical of mournful and never-ending remembrance.


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