Quirky Books: Edgar Allan Poe: Editor Richard Wilbur

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe: Editor Richard Wilbur

Published by American Poets Project, Editor Richard Wilbur received a Pulitzer Prize for poetry and translation. American Poets Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving significant poets from the United States. This particular volume features Edgar Allan Poe's best poems along with essays concerning poetry and poet reviews.

Poe lived a short life from 1809 to 1849. His parents Elizabeth and David Poe were traveling actors. John Allan's family became his foster family when orphaned at 2 years of age. At this time Poe traveled to Great Britain to attend school. Eventually he returned to the states and attended the University of Virginia only to enlist in the army a year later.

The sorted issues of his upbringing may or may not impact his poetry. Famous for writing horror stories, his poetry is often a self expression. Many people relate to him through his haunted or melancholy works, yet he also produced uplifting, religious and empowering prose. One of my favorite poems is "the Bells." It relates to mass communication through a methodology, such as: marriage or fire with the tone of the bells. The concept is meaningful to poetry and the rhythm is hypnotic, "Keeping time, time, time in a sort of Runic Rhyme, to the throbbing of the bells – of the bells, bells, bells."

Toiling over finding what makes famous poets great, Poe's essay "Eureka: A Prose Poem" is intriguing. He is portrayed as a stoic religious man, yet the essay expresses an existential, almost Taoist point-of-view. It begins talking about the principles of attraction and repulsion of matter. The solar system is a larger version of an atom. Then, through a Christian viewpoint, theorizes spirits combine to become one and this cloud of spirits is God or heaven.

For anyone who feels they already know Edgar Allen Poe, this book is intriguing. Many people have seen one of the many parodies of "the Raven." I remember the artistic and melancholy shows by Dark Masters, in which they enact the horrific tales of murder and tragedy. Preferred poetry in English classes, are only a glimpse at the fuller body of Poe's work and multidimensional inner workings.

I recommend this book to everyone, especially if you are inclined to enjoy horror and poetry. The chanting and well placed wording is interesting to poets on a technical level, yet it is also inspiring. The empowering, thoughtful prose is philosophical and intriguing; therefore, a larger audience will also enjoy "Edgar Allan Poe."

Poetry Breakdown
The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe
Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe