19th century or 20th century poet?

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I want to know if Edgar Allan Poe is considered a 19th century poet or a 20th century poet?

-- Anonymous, April 17, 2001


Since Poe was born in 1809 and died in 1849, he could hardly be a 20th century poet, having been dead for 50 years before the 20th century even began.

-- Anonymous, April 18, 2001

I think that this question is slightly more complicated than merely wanting to know when Poe died. It seems to me to be asking whether or not Poe's work fits more neatly with the 19th or the 20th century.

This is, however, a difficult thing and has no neat answer. The case could be made either way, but I believe that it is easier to see him as a poet of the early 19th century than anything else.

Poe's concern with strict metrical lines and his complicated (sometimes over-complicated) rhyming schemes do not seem to be reflected by most 20th century poetry. In fact, it wasn't really a feature of American poetry after the 1850s. (Perhaps a case could be made, therefore, for Poe being an 18th century poet!)

Also, his subject matter is very much in keeping with other such poetry and fiction which was being published in the magazines of his time. There was a repeated use of death and mourning in many of these pieces, something which, of course, Poe was a specialist.

All told, then, it would appear that Poe was very much a 19th century poet, but because he didn't deal with topical or regional issues his work has a 'timeless' quality to its subject matter. (When hasn't the death of a loved one been a subject for the poet? Poe differs in the style of his excessive mourning, not in the act of mourning itself.)

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2001

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