On the last day of the year appeared Poe's fourth volume of verse, The Raven and Other Poems. This volume contains the final revisions of the fugitive poems which had flitted here and there among the pages of the magazines, and to them he added only three or four pieces in the brief remaining years of his life. He entered the company of the immortals, as Dickens said of Gray, with a small volume of verse under his arm. In the patience and skill of his revisions he is like another modern poet, Tennyson, whom he called the best of all poets, and who said of one perfect line that it cost him three days and a box of cigars. We come, I think, to regard our poets less as mysterious monks inspired by visions, and more as human beings sitting at tables making good or bad verse. As we view them so, we have greater respect for their extraordinary powers. A poet, specially endowed to take at dictation the word of heaven, is not interesting because he is not responsible. Poe producing amid the known difficulties of his life on earth that volume of poems is a remarkable human creature.
About this time he was a personage in America and in Europe. By a strange accident he was introduced to France amid the dust of controversy. Nothing in this man's life ran smooth except his poetry and prose. A French journal published one of his stories. Another French journal published the same story. There was a legal process in which it appears that both journals were indebted to Mr. Poe, of America. This episode (quite Yankee in its squabble and its disregard of copyright) drew attention to Poe. Some of his other tales were translated, he became the life study of Baudelaire and Mallarme. Poe's genius received the additional polish of French literary competence, and his fame flew upon French wings. Edgar Poe, or Poe, belongs to unholy Paris quite as much as to the holy city of New York. Paris was the literary centre of the world. It is not quite determinable whether the interest of Englishmen in Poe is not due rather to Paris than to New York. The ties of blood and language have been broken on their long course across the seas ; but London has, in spite of insular fears and memories, been vassal to Paris in critical matters since the age of Dry-den. Through France Edgar Poe became the forerunner of pre-Raphaelites and decadents and other minor singers, and so he raises the question where New World barbarism begins and Old World sophistication leaves off.