Poe's Poetry

Poe as a Literary Professional College

As an aspiring Southern gentleman, Edgar Allan Poe longed for the glamour of fame and wealth, prominence and prosperity. To gain this through his writing, Poe understood that he must be able to sell his writing to make money, but he also must appeal to the genteel to gain respect in their community. This stark divide in audience made it difficult for Poe to balance his writing in such a way as to target both populations, the literary elite and the popular middle class. Still, this divide creates a unique brand of writing by Poe that utilizes tactics to appeal to both audiences, creating art that works with Poe’s definition and the definition of his audience.

Art to Poe is a complicated thing. While he longs to belong to a class that determines art as an elite substance, he must work to create art that applies to more than just the elite. However, as Poe writes in “The Philosophy of Composition,” “Let us dismiss, as irrelevant to the poem per se, the circumstance – or say the necessity – which, in the first place, gave rise to the intention of composing a poem that should suit at once the popular and the critical taste” (1375) for a moment. To Poe, it seems that art involves premeditated process, focused upon very specific...

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