The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, October 01, 1899, Image 7

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    "His sense of form was good, but seldom to be depended on at first;
if he reached the perfection for which he strove it was only after
repeated trials and failures. No poet who wrote so little ever re
wrote that little so often, and so successfully." All his stories
are gruesome and strike terror to the heart of the reader.
Poe posed as a critic, but his want of honesty and his preju
dice made him an unfair judge and little regarded. " His
critical faculty was more sure of itself in correction than in com
position." He knew his power and what he could do with it.
His criticisms are sharp and biting, and his satire is cutting; he
feigned great learning and erudition, and liked to parade it; his
reference knowledge was excellent; his intellect was sharp,
electric, and powerful; he had a keen sense of melody, of just pro
portion in structure, and of proprieties of style. In short, Poe
was deficient as a critic. " His criticisms are distinguished for
scientific precision and coherence of logic. They have the exact
ness and, at the same time, the coldness of mathematical dem
onstrations." He liked to detect discrepancies, but could not
grapple with principles.
Poe's influence may be treated of under: first, his place in
literature; and second, the effect on his readers. As has been
said Poe stands alone. In his own particular province he is
without a peer. It is his genius and peculiar line of work, in
which he excelled, that place him among the first of American
authors. His stories can be compared to nothing in English or
American literature. "He took no hold-up on the life about him
and cared nothing for the public concerns of his country. His poems
and tales might have been written in vacuo for anything American in
them. Perhaps for this reason, in part, his fame has been so cos
mopolitan.'' So writes F. H.Underwood. His writings have taken
especially well in France. On the other hand, "he affects different
natures differently, and, unlike many poets, he affects all who are
capable of being touched by poetry." To the optimist he is hateful
and gloomy; "to the melancholy, he is the melodious laureate of
dead hopes. To those to whom poetry is an art he is at once
attractive and repulsive." His stories often affect us with terror
and we are apt to ask whether we too are not mad. It is due
then to his peculiar genius that his work has such a hold upon
us as individuals, and stands alone and conspicuous in American