Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 2) >> ''Poe's Poetry'': A New Simms Essay >> Page 23

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 23

Reviews/Essays | [1845-10-11]
Transcription 23
Either this, or declamatory verse,—or something patri-
otic, or something satirical, or something comical. At
all events, you must not be mystical. You must not
task the audience to study: Your song must be such as
they can read running, and Comprehend while munching
pea-nuts. Mr. Poe is not the writer for this sort of thing.
He is too original, too fanciful, too speculative, too any-
thing in verse, for the comprehension of any but `audi-
ence fit though few.' In obeying this call, to Boston,
Mr. Poe committed another mistake. He had been
mercilessly exercising himself as a critic at the expense
of some of their favorite writers. The swans of New-
England, under his delineation, had been described as
mere geese, and those too of none of the whitest. He
had been exposing the short comings and the plagiarisms
of Mr. Longfellow, who is supposed, along the banks
of the Penobscot, to be about the comliest bird
that ever dipped his bill in Pieria. Poe had
dealt with th. favorites of Boston unsparingly, and they
hankered after their revenge. In evil hour then, did
he consent to commit hhnself, in verses to their tender
mercies. It is positively amusing to see how eagerly
all the little witlings of the press, in the old purlieus of
the Puritan, flourish the critical tomahawk about the head
of their critic. In their eagerness for retribution, one of
the newspapers before us actually congratulates itself
and readers, on the (asserted) failure of the poet. The
good Editor himself was not present, but he hammers
away not the less lustily at the victim, because his ob-
jections are to be made at second hand. Mr. Poe com-
mitted another error in consenting to address an audience
in verse, who, for three mortal hours, had been compell-
ed to sit and hear Mr. Caleb Cushing in prose. The
attempt to speak after this, in poetry, and fanciful poetry
too, was sheer madness. The most patient audience in
the world, must have been utterly exhausted by the pre-