The Raven on Composing
Edgar Allan Poe’s essay “The Philosophy of Composition” first took flight in the 1846 April edition of Graham’s Magazine. As someone who enjoys the emotional spontaneity accompanied with my favorite accomplishments, this essay goes in the face of how I feel. While this style may have been as the Edgar Allan Poe’s bird flies, it is clearly not the only way to success as made cleared by the continued re-writing, re-vamping, and re-issuing of the highly successful Whitman works. The inspiration that strikes me to writing and the emotion poured forth in his work coupled with the repeated tragedies in his life makes me want to believe this essay was satirical in nature and to have a laugh at those too unwitting to realize it. Assuming that the essay is not a hoax, what is Poe’s preferred poetic composition? And in what ways does “The Raven” portray this easily fit cookie-cutter format?
When Poe wills his writing to take wing it has three perches on which it likes to alight before allowing the winds to keep it aloft. His writing’s first journey is through thought - all the way to its conclusion - up to the emotional response he, or whoever is composing, wishes his work to elicit. This is known as the “unity of effect” and is the first hop any work must take before voyaging to the next perch. Just as you receive safety instructions upon boarding an airplane, the next two perches are less centered on the plot and creativity of the work and more so guidelines for a successful flight. Poe believed that all great literally works be succinct, short. Poe says there is a limit that binds all literary art and it is “the limit of a single sitting.” He praised short stories as superior to the novel because the novel violated this rule. He also believed that each work should be methodical, logical, and analytical. He scoffed at the idea of spontaneous works. Now we know the perches upon which Poe’s works accept repast before becoming masters of the...
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