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EDGAR ALLAN POE - Part 2

The English school no doubt gave Poe that old-fashioned grounding in essentials, resting upon which his native alertness made his course in American schools easy and pleasant.

On their return to Richmond in 1820 the Allans placed Poe in a school conducted then by Joseph Clarke, of Trinity College, Dublin, and later by another Irishman, William Burke. All that we know of Poe's character at this time is that he was quick of brain and body.

He may have been proud and aloof. His companions may have remembered that his parents were actors, and have denied him the leadership which heroes of biographies merit. When we look back on the boyhood of a " future poet," our vision is intercepted by the poet that stands between. Poe's nimble brain no doubt kept him in the favour of his teachers. His body was so sound and supple that he was able to compass one poetic episode which links him appropriately with Byron. He swam a six mile stretch on the James River and walked home unfatigued. His precocity in literature is not evident in any fact of this period, although it is said that at the age of ten or twelve he showed Mr. Allan a manuscript volume of poems, which of course that parental villain did not appreciate ; and Poe was good at elocution, an art practised more by American school-boys then than now. There is a story that the mother of one of his playmates " befriended" him (he was at this time thoroughly befriended at home), that she became the " confidante of his boyish sorrows," and that, when she died, he haunted her grave of nights. It is easy to see that this romantic lingering upon a lady's grave foreshadows much in Poe's poetry and prose.


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