Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 - 1849
Photo by C. T. Talman (1904)
Born: 19 January 1809, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 7 October 1849, Baltimore, Maryland
Born Edgar Poe, his parents were itinerant actors. His father had already abandoned his family when he died a year later, his mother died in 1813 and Edgar Was raised by wealthy Virginia tobacco merchant John Allan, providing him with a middle name and several years education in England. He went to the University of Virginia for a year but was expelled for unpaid gambling debts. John Allan refused to cover the IOUs and disowned his foster son. In 1827 Poe joined the army under an assumed name, rising to Sergeant Major before leaving, only to enter West Point. Again he left after a year, this time intentionally getting himself court martialed. Inspired by the prize from a literary competition, he set out to live entirely on his writing income which was meager and sporadic. (He sold The Raven for only $15.00.) He married a young cousin in 1836 but her health was poor and for much of their marriage she was an invalid. After her death he was increasingly depressed and alcohol got the better of him. Despite that he was a major contributor to science fiction (Jules Verne was a great admirer of his work), wrote the first modern detective stories, and was regarded as one of the most accomplished literary critics of his era. His first volume, Tamerlane and Other Poems, was printed at his own expense; only twelve copies are known to exist, one of which holds the record for the most valuable literary work of an American author. On election day in 1849 he was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and wearing someone else's clothing, he died in hospital four days later.
Most of these quotes are from his prose work, the Wikiquote link below has a significant amount of his poetry, and The Raven is in our Specials collection.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Edgar Allan Poe quotes:
Click here to find books by Edgar Allan Poe at Amazon.com
- A man's grammar, like Caesar's wife, must not only be pure, but above suspicion of impurity. permalink
- A poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul. permalink
"The Poetic Principle" (1850)
- A strong argument for the religion of Christ is this — that offenses against Charity are about the only ones which men on their death-beds can be made, not to understand, but to feel, as crime. permalink
"Marginalia" in Democratic Review (November 1844)
- After reading all that has been written, and after thinking all that can be thought on the topics of God and the soul, the man who has a right to say that he thinks at all, will find himself face to face with the conclusion that, on these topics, the most profound thought is that which can be the least easily distinguished from the most superficial sentiment. permalink
"Marginalia" in Democratic Review (November 1844)
- All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry. permalink
- All that we see and seem is but a dream within a dream. permalink
- As an individual, I myself feel impelled to fancy a limitless succession of Universes. Each exists, apart and independently, in the bosom of its proper and particular God. permalink
- Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. permalink
"The Rationale of Verse" in The Pioneer (March 1843)
- Believe me, there exists no such dilemma as that in which a gentleman is placed when he is forced to reply to a blackguard. permalink
- Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear. permalink
- But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been. permalink
- Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. permalink
- Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made. permalink
"The Masque of the Red Death" (1842)
- Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant. permalink
- Few persons can be made to believe that it is not quite an easy thing to invent a method of secret writing which shall baffle investigation. Yet it may be roundly asserted that human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve. permalink
"A Few Words on Secret Writing" in Graham's Magazine (July 1841)
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