Monday, April 5, 2010


Am I the only one...

...who has had it occur to them that the Reverend Doctor Rufus W. Griswold was the Sammy Glick of 19th century literary America?Edgar Allan Poe The Lighthouse...who thinks that Poe's "unfinished" story "The Lighthouse," is completed? I see the tale's final words, "The basis on which the structure rests seems to me to be chalk..." followed by a blank diary entry, not as a break in the narrative, but a punchline.

Why is there this insane persistence in attributing the poem "Impromptu to Kate Carol" to Poe? John Grier Varner ("Note On a Poem Attributed to Poe," "American Literature" March 1936) showed conclusively that this short verse, which appeared anonymously in the "Broadway Journal"--as column filler--in April 1845, was the work of Frances S. Osgood, but his research has been strangely ignored.Frances Sargent Osgood"Kate Carol" was the name of Osgood's literary alter ego. She not only published poems and stories as "Kate," but also addressed works to her little imaginary friend--giving her writings an unsettling schizophrenic quality. And how anyone can picture Poe composing lines like...
"When from your gems of thought I turn
To those pure orbs, your heart to learn,
I scarce know which to prize most high
The bright i-dea, or the bright dear-eye." frankly beyond my comprehension. Even James Whitcomb Riley would have been embarrassed to put Poe's name to this stuff.

Note: The common explanation for the inconvenient fact Varner disclosed (that Osgood dedicated this same poem to Elizabeth Oakes Smith, under the title of "To 'The Sinless Child,'") is that Osgood merely copied Poe's supposed tribute to her and presented it to Smith as her own work. This idiotic theory would be hilarious, if it wasn't accepted as serious scholarship. Fanny Osgood was a sadly peculiar woman, but even she would hesitate to gift another poet with verse she had merely cribbed from a back issue of the "Broadway Journal."

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