Poetess Tradition

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Francis Sargent Osgood               TEI-encoded version

"Francis Sargent Osgood"

Edgar A. Poe

[In The Southern Literary Messenger vol. 15, no. 8 (August 1849), pp. 509-516: ]


[…] There is scarcely a form of poetical composition in which she has not made experiment; and there is none in which she has not very happily succeeded. Her defects are chiefly negative and by no means numerous. Her versification is sometimes exceedingly good, but more frequently feeble through the use of harsh consonants, and such words as "thou'dst" for "thou wouldst," with other unnecessary contractions, inversions, and obsolete expressions. Her imagery is often mixed; -- indeed it is rarely otherwise. The epigrammatism of her conclusions gives to her poems, as wholes, the air of being more skillfully constructed than they really are. On the other hand, we look in vain throughout her works for an offence against the finer taste, or against decorum -- for a low thought or a platitude. A happy refinement -- an instinct of the pure and delicate -- is one of her most noticeable excellences. She may be properly commended, too, for originality of poetic invention, whether in the conception of a theme or in the manner of treating it. Consequences of this trait, are her point and piquancy. Fancy and naivete appear in all she writes. Regarding the loftier merits, I am forced to speak of her in more measured terms. She has occasional passages of true imagination -- but scarcely the glowing, vigorous, and sustained ideality of Mrs. Maria Brooks -- or even, in general, the less ethereal elevation of Mrs. Welby. In that indescribable something, however, which, for want of a more definite term, we are accustomed to call "grace" -- that charm so magical, because at once so shadowy and so potent -- that Will o' the Wisp which, in its supreme development, may be said to involve nearly all that is valuable in poetry -- she has, unquestionably, no rival among her country women. […]

Date: 1849 (Coding Revisions: 01/02/2006). Author: Edgar Allan Poe; editor Brandon Clay (Coding Revisions: Laura Mandell).
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