The Forlorn Demon: Didactic and Critical Essays

The Forlorn Demon: Didactic and Critical Essays

The Forlorn Demon: Didactic and Critical Essays

The Forlorn Demon: Didactic and Critical Essays

Excerpt

In one of these essays I call Poe a "forlorn demon in the glass." It is an unhappy phrase that I had thought was en. tirely mine until the other day, when I remembered the rather bad poem, parts of which I reproduce opposite the title-page. The poem, which is entitled Alone, has never been famous, and even Poe's authorship has been questioned. But I am sure that it is by Poe, as I am sure that a friend is who he is without the proof of his driver's license or social-security card. If it is not by Poe, no matter; it gave me the phrase and it serves my purpose.

To the question, What would attract the attention of demons if they lost interest in us? we have no answer at present; nor can we guess how different their personalities seem to them; perhaps every demon is sure that he is unique. Poe was certain all his life that he was not like anybody else. The saints tell us that confident expectancy of damnation is a more insidious form of spiritual pride than certainty of salvation. The little we know of hell is perhaps as follows: it promptly adjusts and integrates its willing victims into a standardized monotony, in which human suffering, its purpose thus denied, begins to sound like the knock of an unoiled piston. A famous literary critic predicted years ago that our poetry would soon echo the rhythms of the internal combustion engine, and he produced a short verse-play to prove it. I take it he meant that . . .

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