[A LETTER TO GEORGE EVELETH]
INTO forty bitter, delirious, and lyric years Edgar Allan Poe crowded a wealth of melody, a rare and disciplined genius for creative criticism, and a vivid pageant of tales grotesque and arabesque.
Born in Boston in 1809, orphaned at the age of two, Poe was raised by a guardian who had little understanding of, and less sympathy for, the unruly talents of his ward. Despite his brilliant record at college, Poe's youth was marred by gambling, drinking, poverty, and constant difficulties with his guardian. He was expelled from the University of Virginia and court-martialed at West Point. His early manhood was darkened by that unholy trinity of genius, the hostility of critics, the indifference of the public, and the harsh terms of publishers. Through them all he said poetry was for him "not a purpose but a passion."
Poe secretly married his beautiful cousin, Virginia Clemm, when she was only thirteen, and he twenty-four. It was her mother, Maria, whose energy and devotion tided the young couple through fourteen years of poverty-stricken marriage. The child-wife had "bright liquid eyes and an unearthy pallor." To Poe, her beauty was doubtless
". . . Like those Nicæan barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore."
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: A Treasury of the World's Great Letters:From Ancient Days to Our Own Time. Contributors: M. Lincoln Schuster - Editor. Publisher: Simon & Schuster. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1940. Page number: 292.
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