Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poe Gets Fan Mail!

edgar allan poe the raven
A 19th-century painter named John Frankenstein (yes!) blamed his lack of success on the refusal of various prominent people to recognize his obvious genius. He got his revenge by savaging all his imagined enemies in print. Among his objects of attention was Edgar Allan Poe, as Frankenstein (erroneously) believed the late poet had insulted his work in 1845. Frankenstein responded to this supposed slight in 1864, with a poem that I can honestly say is one of the most unique tributes I have ever read:
"Come! be by searching truth's tribunal tried!
Come forth! if you've got sober since you died,
You, drunken mad-dog, Edgar Allan Poe--
Is it my fault that I must call you so?
Your works, like you, are born of alcohol;
Horrid monstrosities, distortions all;
It needs no doctor's gallipot or jar,
Filled with that stuff, to keep them as they are;
Soaked with its strange and strong insidious power,
Your tales the many eagerly devour
The Barnum of the Western Museum, FRANKS,
Here for apt illustration shall have thanks
He fitted up a noted murderers' room
Of victims, too, which they sent to the tomb
Wax figures with authentic, gaping gashes
The weapons that made all these hideous slashes
An hundred dollars covered the expense
Three thousand dollars was his recompense!

, Poe, through all your nature most debased,
You pandered to this craving tiger-taste;
King Alcohol through you once ruled our realm
Of literature, you staggered at its helm
By English critics, too, were recognized,
A fact which was by us most highly prized
You, with an impudence sublimely brazen,
In Art your frantic fumes must largely blazon;
Here I've got a crow to pick with you, my friend--
Your poor, poor raven that rhymes without an end?
No, mad dog, no! but do you recollect
How at my pictures once you picked and pecked?
They were done soberly, with anxious care,
No time, no labor on them did I spare
All that nigh any fool could have seen there
Nor was the labor lost
They were well painted
Then you, with every fiber liquor-tainted,
You, YOU, who all your life could not walk straight,
With swaggering ignorance my work berate?
When in the gutter that last time you lay,
When death, disgusted, almost turned away,
When you with rot-gut whisky dying stunk,
And thus into God's presence reeled dead-drunk--
I tell you, mad dog, when I heard all this,
I helped outraged humanity to hiss!
You need not say now nothing should be said
That I am living and that you are dead--
Not so; In prose to prick me you chose your own time
And I choose mine to pay you back in rhyme

Avaunt! And nevermore to me come nigh--
I do believe you stink of whisky yet--good-bye!"

Mr. Frankenstein missed his calling. Instead of wasting his time painting, he could have made a fine living writing inscriptions for Hallmark cards.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More on the Amazing Susan Weiss

On this blog, I have often referred to Susan Archer Talley Weiss, that prolific and pathological liar. It is hard, however, to describe her writings in a way that do them justice--they really have to be read in their entirety to appreciate their true horror. Her claims that she was a mere slip of a wee girl--"little more than a child"--when she claimed to have met Edgar Allan Poe in 1849 (she was 27 at the time.) The complete lack of any proof that she met Poe in person at all, not to mention his sister Rosalie and the Mackenzie family (Weiss claimed they were her main sources about Poe's personal life--after, of course, all these alleged witnesses were safely dead. It is also worth noting that there is no evidence that Rosalie or any member of her foster family related any of this spicy inside information about Poe to anyone else.) Weiss' descriptions of her lengthy and intimate conversations with the poet, who had, she claimed, immediately adopted her as a favored confidante (these descriptions coyly avoid mentioning the fact that she was completely deaf since childhood.) Her account of Poe enlisting her to re-write "The Raven." (Weiss sniffed that she "did not feel particularly flattered by his proposal, knowing that since his coming to Richmond he had made a similar request to at least two other persons.") Her complete invention of the current popular image of Virginia Poe as a childlike nincompoop who could not even be bothered to read any of her husband's writings. Her inconsistent, contradictory, and frequently quite insane claims. All these factors, as well as many, many more, leave the reader frankly in awe of the sheer magnitude of her powers of fantasy. The world lost a potentially great novelist of the Grand Guignol school when Mrs. Weiss made the decision to peddle her work as non-fiction. Unfortunately, however, her writings have been allowed to pass largely without challenge, or even close examination. As a result, she became an eminent member of that Rogues' Gallery led by Rufus Griswold, Thomas Dunn English, Sarah Helen Whitman, J.H. Whitty, etc., all dedicated to distorting the historical record about Poe.

After having read everything Susan Weiss wrote about Poe, as well as researching what little we know about her decidedly strange personal life, (particularly her curious alleged "marriage" to the mysterious Louis Weiss,) I have come to the quite serious, unexaggerated conclusion that the woman was mentally ill. It is hard to tell whether she reached her peak of lunacy in discussing Poe's marriage or his death. Early on, she often implied that his demise resulted from one drinking binge too many. In the mid-1870s, when Elizabeth Oakes Smith's story about Poe's death resulting from a beating (which Smith linked to his quarrel with Elizabeth F. Ellet over her letters) got wide circulation, Weiss wrote a short magazine piece contemptuously refuting the charge. Afterwards, however, she became increasingly enamored of the idea. She wound up not only embracing Smith's story, but outdoing it altogether. By 1885, this is what Weiss was writing to Poe's biographer George Woodberry:
"I have mentioned the quarrel between himself & Mrs. Shelton in regard to certain letters of hers which he refused to give up until his own had been returned to him. On her part the feeling was most bitter & vindictive, she having been told of some unflattering remarks he had made in regard to her and his sending an open and verbal reply in answer to her note demanding the return of the letters. [Note her obvious plagiarism of the Ellet scandal.] We all heard on that occasion that she said 'she would have him chastised within an inch of his life, if she had to wait seven years for it,' or words to that effect, if not verbatim. I did not at the time believe that she could so have expressed herself--but have since heard from more than one source that Poe died from the effects of a severe beating, administered by Mrs. Shelton's order."

I do not have the most admiring opinion of the Widow Shelton, but even I can't quite see her as a cross between Catherine de Medici and Vito Corleone.

Arthur H. Quinn, who authored practically the only Poe biography that does not read like a supermarket tabloid, discussed a particularly amusing passage from her book, "Home Life of Poe," that is a fine representation of the lady's remarkable style. Here, she quotes her mother as relating to her an account of being neighbors with Poe's parents in Norfolk, VA, in 1811.

"'At this time,' continued my mother, 'we were living on Main Street, and my uncle, Dr. Robert Butt, of the House of Burgesses, lived close by, on Burmuda Street.'" Weiss then drew a detailed picture of David and Eliza Poe, who, with their children, lived next door to Mr. Butt, along with an "old Welsh nurse," (Eliza Poe's mother, according to Weiss.)

Quinn did a little research into this statement, and discovered the following:

1. In 1811, Virginia had no legislative body known as the "House of Burgesses."
2. No one named "Robert Butt" was ever, at any time, a member of Virginia's House of Burgesses.
3. There is not one record showing that anyone named "Robert Butt" ever even lived in Norfolk.
4. Quinn did not mention this, but we know that Eliza Poe's mother was an English actress named Elizabeth Arnold, who died long before her daughter married David Poe.

And this was the woman Poe specialist Thomas O. Mabbott treated as a highly trustworthy source! "Seldom," Quinn noted dryly, "has one sentence contained so many errors." On the contrary. Mrs. Weiss wrote many other sentences that could leave the one he quoted in the dust.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rufus Griswold Gets a Pen Pal

"Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence - whether much that is glorious - whether all that is profound - does not spring from disease of thought - from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect."

George W. Eveleth, that most curious and fascinating character who exchanged some remarkable letters with Poe in the last few years of the latter's life, made something of a career of writing unsolicited--and undoubtedly unwelcomed--letters to many other people connected to "my favorite one," as Eveleth called the dead poet. His most prolific surviving correspondence was with Sarah Helen Whitman (where she was comically oblivious to his scarcely-disguised mockery,) but fortunately many other of his Poe-related letters still exist.

rufus w griswoldOf particular interest are the two extant letters he wrote to Rufus W. Griswold. (Currently in the Boston Public Library.) The first, dated April 3, 1852, is evidently not his earliest letter to "My dear Doctor," as Eveleth cheerily opened by saying, "I have reckoned it a part of my (pleasurable) duty to keep you posted up in certain of the Bits from my Note-Book." (Eveleth always assumed an immediate breezy familiarity with his correspondents--all of them complete strangers--as well as an air of scornful authority and omniscience which must have been deeply unsettling to the recipients.)

Eveleth continued with a quote from Poe's "Fifty Suggestions": "The ingenuity of critical malice would often be laughable but for the disgust which, even in the most perverted spirits, injustice never fails to excite. A common trick is that of decrying, impliedly, the higher, by insisting upon the lower, merits of an author. Macaulay, for example, deeply feeling how much critical acumen is enforced by cautious attention to the mere 'rhetoric' which is its vehicle, has at length become the best of modern rhetoricians. His brother reviewers extol 'the acumen of Carlyle, the analysis of Schlegel, and the style of Macaulay.' Bancroft is a philosophical historian; but no amount of philosophy has yet taught him to despise a minute accuracy in point of fact. His brother historians talk of 'the grace of Prescott, the erudition of Gibbon, and the pains-taking precision of Bancroft!'"

Eveleth then directly addressed James Russell Lowell, quoting from Lowell's laudatory 1845 review of Poe's work, contrasting it with the altered, and far harsher, version of this same review that Griswold published in 1850. Eveleth enquired, "Did Poe leave you (as well as Griswold) an annuity to induce you thus to belie yourself for the purpose of denying his higher, by insisting upon his lower, merits?"

Eveleth went on to muse about how no one knew better than Poe how to guide public perception and opinion. "He led the populace by the nose in his 'Valdemar case,' in his 'Balloon Hoax,' in his Quarrel with Thomas Dunn English, in his drunken habits, in his Death, and in his 'Memoir by Griswold'; and he hasn't let go even yet, but is managing it at his pleasure, through the medium of the Spirit Telegraph with Mrs. Whitman at t'other end of the wire."

Eveleth informed Griswold that the "above Bits" had been forwarded to Lowell and to Mrs. Whitman, for her to pass on to Poe's spirit (during this period, Whitman had a medium living with her, through whom she made efforts to contact the late poet--who, alas, was discouragingly uncommunicative.) Eveleth closed his singular missive with, "Yours in all manner of cordiality." The letter is addressed to "Rev. Dr. Griswold or Edgar A. Poe Esq.--either."

The second letter, dated September 7 of that same year, had no salutation. Eveleth, without preamble, launched into a long disquisition on the solar system that reads like "Eureka"'s more peculiar little brother. He then suggested that Poe might be interested in what he had written, and suggested that Griswold forward it to him through "one of the mediums." Eveleth added that he had already sent some comments about "Eureka" to Mrs. Whitman for her to pass on to Poe through "the Spirit Telegraph."

We do not know Eveleth's purpose in sending Poe's notorious biographer these blithely menacing notes--although there was always a definite method to his ostensible madness. We also have no idea why Griswold kept these two communications, or what, if any, reply he sent. It probably does not matter. What would be well worth knowing, however, is this: What was going through Griswold's mind as he read these letters--one of which nonchalantly lists Poe's death and Griswold's own memoir among the poet's hoaxes and manipulations--all penned in a handwriting startlingly like that of the man Griswold had so recently defamed?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The "Broadway Journal" Poems

One of the more irritating traits found among Poe's biographers is their tendency to repeat the same statements over and over without even pausing to consider if there is any truth behind them.

A prominent example is the subject of the poems Frances S. Osgood and Poe published in the "Broadway Journal" during 1845. As we have very little solid evidence regarding their acquaintance, (probably because there was very little of an actual acquaintance at all) these poems have been transmogrified into the status of vital source material that supposedly provides the key to their entire relationship. Volumes of overheated prose have been written about how their public exchange of so-called "love poems" became a "literary courtship" which, it is assumed, became the talk of New York, feeding scandalous gossip about the pair. (This flight of fancy also ignores the fact that in those times, it was a "fad" for the literati to publish poems of praise to each other that often got far more extravagant than anything written by Osgood or Poe.)

The truth is far more prosaic. Their poems in the "Journal" were either utterly inapplicable to whatever personal relationship they had or quite innocuous. There is also not one whit of contemporary evidence suggesting that anyone at the time saw any suggestive significance to their writings--or, indeed, to their whole relationship at all.

And they would have been fools if they had. As John E. Reilly noted ("Mrs. Osgood and 'The Broadway Journal,'" Duquesne Review, Fall 1967) the "identity of Mrs. Osgood's contributions to the series [the alleged "literary courtship"] is uncertain largely because her poetry is often so conventional that it is difficult to determine if it was written with any specific person in mind and because the center of focus in most of her poems is not the person addressed but upon the personae she assumes...Even among the several poems which can definitely be assigned to the series, it is apparent that Mrs. Osgood has distorted her relationship with Poe in the interest of exploiting its melodramatic potentialities..." (In fact, "I Cannot Forget Him," a poem that appeared in her last book of verse, has often been pointed to as clearly being a lament for her sundered relationship with Poe. These commentators were unaware that this poem--which even depicts her lost love as a "genius" writer--was first published the year before they met. This mistake should serve as a warning of the dangers of interpreting Osgood's writings as autobiography.)Edgar Allan Poe To Frances S. Osgood

Poe's contributions to the "series," consisted of only two poems--neither of which was even originally written for Osgood. The first, "To F---," appeared on April 26. Previously published as "To Mary," and "To One Departed," it is (as the second title implies) addressed to someone who is in the writer's past, someone who is dead, or at least permanently estranged from him. It is an extremely strange poem to rededicate to a person with whom he presumably had a current personal relationship. It is as if Poe was announcing that Osgood--whom he had met only a month before--was no longer a factor in his life.

edgar allan poe to frances broadway journalThe second poem, published on September 13, is also simply designated as "To F---." (It is also known as "To F--s S. O--d.") Here, we enter the realm of farce. It consists of the first four lines of mild verses he published a decade earlier to an "Eliza." In the "Journal," it appeared at the bottom of a reprint of one of his stories--as column filler! It is impossible to believe this was not done as deliberate--and not very kindly--mockery at Osgood's expense. Rather amusingly, Osgood biographer Mary De Jong desperately tried to palliate this none-too-subtle insult by arguing that, after all, Poe could have used other writings as "filler." To this, one can only reply: "Yes, exactly."

There is one more oddity concerning these two poems. Years later, Sarah Helen Whitman told Poe's biographer John H. Ingram that Poe told her that he had "allowed" those verses to be rededicated to Osgood--at that lady's own request. If Whitman's memory was correct, it casts a curious light, not only on the "literary courtship," but on Poe's whole relationship with Osgood.Frances Sargent OsgoodOsgood's contributions to the "Journal" began with two poems which appeared in the issue for April 5 (when, it should be noted, Poe had no editorial control over the magazine,) under the pseudonyms, "Kate Carol" and "Violet Vane." "The Rivulet's Dream" is Osgood at her most childishly ethereal, a vague allegory about "stars" and "rills" that says nothing, and certainly had no possible connections to Poe. "So Let It Be" is always interpreted as Osgood pleading for his affection:
"The fair, fond girl, who at your side,
Within your soul's dear light, doth live,
Could hardly have the heart to chide,
The ray that Friendship well might give."
Even this attribution is questionable, considering the poem's narrator is addressing an old flame, someone she describes as having turned "from every memory of the past"--a statement that could hardly apply to Poe, whom she had just met a matter of days before this poem was published. Even if one wants to apply this poem to the "literary courtship," the theme is Osgood's complaint that the addressee is cold and indifferent to her, engrossed instead in his love for "the fair fond girl" he has married. It hardly suggests a budding illicit romance.

The next issue of the "Journal" carried another pair of Osgood's poems, "Spring" and "Love's Reply." They are both conventional, unrevealing verses that, it is universally conceded, could not apply to Poe. (Reilly believed they must have been written before Osgood even met him.)

The April 26 issue contained Osgood's "Impromptu to Kate Carol," (which is often erroneously attributed to Poe.) This cutesy, punning poem expresses admiration, not of Poe, but for her own literary alter ego!

Osgood's next "Journal" poem, "To Lenore," appeared on May 31. Although the titular name is the same as an earlier poem of Poe's, it otherwise has no relation to him. Like "Love's Reply," it is believed to have been written before she made Poe's acquaintance.

"Slander," published on August 30, is assumed to be Osgood's commentary on the gossip supposedly circulating about her and Poe. We have no evidence that any such scandal existed. (Note well how Poe's biographers endlessly assert there was "talk" about the pair during this period--without ever quoting one contemporary word of it. Also ignored is the fact that the niece of Mrs. Osgood's husband later told Poe biographer Mary E. Phillips that her family had never heard any rumors whatsoever about Frances and Poe--and the niece was certain they would have known about it if such rumors had existed. She added the obvious observation that her uncle would never have painted Poe's portrait if he thought there was anything funny going on between the poet and Osgood's beloved wife.) "Slander," a lament for a "fragile girl" destroyed by venomous rumor, is so generic that it could apply to anyone--or no one.

"Echo-Song," which appeared the following week, quotes from Poe's "Israfel." This has led biographers to assume that the poem, which announces that:
"I know a noble heart that beats
For one it loves how 'wildly well!'"
was written as a tribute to him, and as a coy hint about his fondness for Osgood. That is insufficient evidence on which to base this claim, as Osgood often quoted other poets in her own work without actually addressing the poems to them. Even if she meant to dedicate "Echo-Song" to Poe, the arch and rather vague lines say little. For all we know, the "little name" the "noble heart" loved was a reference to Virginia Poe. Or someone else Osgood knew who had nothing to do with Poe. Or no one in particular at all. (The fact that "Echo-Song" was soon set to music and peddled as a contemporary pop song tends to rob the poem of any personal significance.)

On November 22, the "Journal" published her next contribution. "To ---" defends someone against accusations of "flirtation":
"Smile on then undimmed in your beauty and grace,
Too well e'er to doubt, love, we know you;--
And shed, from your heaven, the light of your face,
Where the waves chase each other below you;
For none can e'er deem it your shame or your sin,
That each wave holds your star image smiling within."
Again, the assumption that she is addressing Poe is built on mere fancy. There is nothing to show whom Osgood had in mind when she wrote the poem--if she had a specific person in mind at all. If it was penned for anyone in particular, the reference to her subject's "beauty and grace" seem to indicate she was writing to a female friend, not a man. (Indeed, this poem was later republished under the title, "To Sarah.")

Another "To ---" appeared in the November 29 issue. Of all her submissions to the "Journal," this is the one that is most plausibly identified as a message to Poe. It opens with another quote from "Israfel," and rhapsodizes:
"I cannot tell the world how thrills my heart
To every touch that flies thy lyre along;
How the wild Nature and the wondrous Art,
Blend into Beauty in thy passionate song--"
If Osgood indeed wrote this to Poe, it is nothing more than an expression of admiration for his poetry. A fan letter, in other words. (Osgood's attitude towards Poe was always reminiscent of a schoolgirl swooning over the teen idol of the moment.) In no way does it indicate any close personal relationship between the pair.

Her next "Journal" poem, "A Shipwreck," (December 13,) showed Osgood in her favorite role, that of self-pitying Drama Queen. This trite poem of rejected love has no obvious connection to Poe. Interestingly, however, if it did, it would (like the earlier "So Let It Be,") indicate that he wanted nothing to do with her.

A week later, Osgood's final "Broadway Journal" poem appeared in print. It is the most intriguing, and possibly the most significant, of the whole lot. "To 'The Lady Geraldine'" tells a story of betrayal. Osgood's narrator reproaches a woman she had thought was a friend, someone she trusted who turned others--presumably, if you wish to take these lines as based on fact, Poe--against her, even making her an object of ridicule.
"Though friends had warned me all the while,
And blamed my willing blindness,
I did not once mistrust your smile,
Or doubt your tones of kindness.

I sought you not--you came to me--
With words of friendly greeting:
Alas! how different now I see
That ill-starred moment's meeting.

When others lightly named your name,
My cordial praise I yielded;
While you would wound with woe and shame,
The soul you should have shielded.

Was it so blest--my life's estate--
That you with envy viewed me?
Ah, false one! could you dream my fate,
You had not thus pursued me.

Perhaps when those who loved me once,
Beguiled by you, have left me,
You'll grieve for all the hopes of which,
Your whispered words bereft me.

You'll think, perhaps, the laugh you raised,
Was hardly worth the anguish,
With which it caused a deep, true heart,
In silent pride to languish.

You'll think, perchance, the idle jest--
The joy--will scarce reward you,
For all the blame another's breast
Must now, in scorn, accord you.

Yet go! 'tis but a darker cloud,
O'er one fore-doomed to sadness;
I would not change my grief so proud,
For all your guilty gladness."

It is usually argued that Osgood was addressing Elizabeth Ellet, who is pictured as a rival for Poe's favor. This is not impossible, as Osgood did afterwards accuse Ellet of some unspecified dirty dealings against her. (Years later, Elizabeth Oakes Smith told Sarah Helen Whitman how feuds and jealousies had erupted among certain of Poe's female admirers, leaving him caught in the middle of the crossfire.) Soon after this poem was published, open warfare broke out when Virginia Poe confronted Ellet with a letter Osgood had written--a letter which (judging from Ellet's subsequent fury against Osgood--and both the Poes) likely elaborated on Osgood's charges against her enemy. "Lady Geraldine" may have been a harbinger of trouble to come. If so, it is worth noting that in this poem, Osgood yet again depicts Poe as rejecting her, even regarding her with amused contempt. However, as we have no way of proving what--if anything--Osgood wished to communicate in this characteristically affected and histrionic poem, it would be wrong to depend upon it as historical evidence. (It is also impossible to know for certain the meaning of the "Lady Geraldine" reference--that was a surprisingly common name in the literature of the day.)

In short, the poems of Poe and Osgood hardly justify the legend of scandalous literary flirtation that has filled the fantasies of far too many biographers.

**A footnote: The May 24 issue of the "Broadway Journal" included a poem entitled "To ----." It ran:
I would not lord it o'er thy heart,
Alas! I cannot rule my own,
Nor would I rob one loyal thought,
From him who there should reign alone;
We both have found a life-long love;
Wherein our weary souls may rest,
Yet may we not, my gentle friend
Be each to each the second best?

A love which shall be passion-free,
Fondness as pure as it is sweet,
A bond where all the dearest ties
Of brother, friend and cousin meet,--
Such is the union I would frame,
That thus we might be doubly blest,
With Love to rule our hearts supreme
And friendship to be second best.

In recent years, it has been suggested that these verses, written by someone identified only as "M," were composed by Poe as a response to Osgood's "So Let It Be." There is no evidence whatsoever to support this attribution. Poe himself certainly never claimed these lines as his own. In 1848, when he gave Sarah Helen Whitman bound volumes of the "Broadway Journal," he marked all his anonymous writings for the magazine. This poem was ignored. Also, these rhymes are even less like Poe's style than "Impromptu To Kate Carol," but they are typical of Osgood's poetry. The poem could very well have been written by some minor and unimportant contributor, but it is also quite possible that Osgood herself penned a rejoinder to "Violet Vane." (There are other known examples of her writing "responses" to her own work.)

If Poe did write this poem, however, it is notable as a gentle, but definite declaration of both his devotion to his wife and his insistence to Osgood that there could never be anything between them but innocent "passion-free" friendship.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quote of the Day

Edgar Allan Poe
"Still, it is easy enough to see that Poe must appear a clouded and legendary figure to those who derive their knowledge of him from the hysterical reports of the women who thought they loved him or he loved them, whose chief object in writing was to inform the world, not of Poe, but of themselves; and the works of slovenly and violent biographers, all terribly prejudiced on one side or the other, without the slightest notion of sifting evidence, and chiefly and passionately concerned with Poe's drinking proclivities."
-Vincent O'Sullivan, writing in "The Academy" magazine, May 31, 1902

Mr. O'Sullivan managed to say in one sentence what I've been trying to express on this blasted blog for months. (I wish there was some way to make his golden words mandatory preliminary reading for everyone who picks up a biography or magazine article about Poe.)

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."