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A complete collection of the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe was born on January 19th in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809, and died in his adopted home of Baltimore, Maryland on October 7th, 1849, making him the first American writer in this series.
The critical estimation of Poe’s work has increased dramatically over the course of my lifetime, which has been satisfying to observe, as he was for me—as I believe for so many lovers of literature—an early favorite, particularly because of his verse, which is rich with sonic texture and gothic subject matter: insanity, darkness, ghosts, death, etc. It is also quite manageable to read in its entirety at 75 poems depending on how many of those of questionable authorship or in various stages of completion one is willing to include in the official oeuvre. (In fact, it has been some time since I’ve heard the old familiar slight that his popularity in France during the 19th century was perhaps due to his writing gaining something of substance from Charles Baudelaire’s translations.) While perhaps not quite as dramatically prescient in new utterance, form or philosophical depth as Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson, he certainly was as wise an observer of human nature, and equally brilliant at capturing the psychological nuances of passionate feeling and the frustrating process of understanding human experience. He also had an exquisite ear for language which has made his poems some of the most enjoyable to memorize and recite of all those in English-language verse: “The Raven” and “Annabelle Lee” immediately spring to mind, as does “The Bells,” once beautifully put to music by the American folk singer, Phil Ochs, to offer an example of the breadth of Poe’s influence and the joy with which generations of readers embrace his poems. And to be sure, beyond the varying critical estimation of his output, there is no questioning his popularity. How many 19th century writers get such unique accolades as the naming of a professional sport franchise’s mascot, or their very own bobble head, after all? And in that spirit I am delighted to offer these 75 selections as an official offering of his full poetic output for your personal assessment and, I am confidant, enjoyment.