Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Softly, Softly, April Morning

Softly Softly, April Morning

Ah! I'll settle for tulips, after
being told off last evening by
a fellow rider on the Marc train
for allegedly trying to photograph
passengers. The blooms won't object!
Won't sue or make me feel blue: I
just stand in the D.C. rain and snap
away in the Smithsonian Gardens,
just me and my cellphone cam
under my umbrella with the raindrops
pit-patter above my head, whoah whoah.

Christopher T. George

Poe's Statue, University of Baltimore

Newly out in The New Yorker is a fine essay, "The Humbug: Edgar Allan Poe and the economy of horror" by Jill Lepore in which Lepore provides a good perspective on the writer. The essay might anger some Poe fans since it paints him as a habitual liar and con artist. What else is new? Access Ms. Lepore's article through the link in the title to this post. Do NOT throw ripe tomatoes at your computer screen!!!! And don't forget my upcoming talk and tour on "The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe" in Baltimore. I am depending on you to sign up for the talk and tour. If I don't get enough people to sign up, I might just have to do it in cyberspace. Ha ha.

Don't Go Quite As Far

I don't drive quite as far, in the Spring air,
--travel north of Bel Air, to the old Booth
mansion, where John Wilkes dreamed his
dreams. At B and N, to promote my Poe talk
(coming class I hope to teach, signups low),
I hand out all my flyers, to each and each.

Deliver my fervent promo, keep dreaming
my dream. Then, seeing I am at B and N,
I pull my punches on that Larkin poem
(the one about parents who "eff" us up),
read the milder "Annus Mirabilis" instead.

But then, up springs a young pup, borrows
my yellowed High Windows, and, surprise!
thank God, bowdlerizes it for all it's worth!

Christopher T. George


Rob Velella said...

Yes, Lepore's article on Poe was slightly infuriating to a Poeist like me, but it's certainly nothing new. It seems like all commentators on Poe have to find one single reason for everything he ever did at any time. For some, it's mommy issues, for others it's daddy issues. Maybe it's morbidity. Or, in Lepore's case, it's constant poverty driving him to write one of the most enduring pieces of verse in the English language, "The Raven." I don't buy it.

Your tour sounds interesting! I'm trying to find a time to get back to Baltimore but it looks like it won't be until October!

Christopher T. George said...

Thank you for your comment, Rob.

I do think Lepore does a decent job putting Poe in the context of his dire economic times and you will know that from his letters to various editors and friends there is a desperate quality to them. I suppose what bothered me most about the Lepore article was the constantly reiterated point that he was sneaky and unscrupulous.

I hope you can possibly make it to Baltimore for the class and tour. In any case, keep in touch.

All the best


Rob Velella said...

I think you're right. Lepore gets so close but misses her own point entirely. Poe was not a bad person, just a victim of hard circumstances. Even as she makes that idea clear, however, she still turns Poe into, as you say, someone who was unscrupulous or a generally bad fellow.