EDGAR ALLAN POE to RUFUS WILMOT GRISWOLD, Autographed Letter, May 29, 1841

EDGAR ALLAN POE to RUFUS WILMOT GRISWOLD, Autographed Letter, May 29, 1841

This letter accompanied several poems that Poe hoped Griswold (1815–57), the editor of The Poets and Poetry of America, would consider for publication. In the letter, Poe mounts his favorite hobbyhorse, accusing Longfellow of having plagiarized from one of his own works, “The Haunted Palace,” in writing a poem called “The Beleaguered City.” The comment seems particularly abrasive in the context of the letter Longfellow had sent Poe just ten days earlier in which he (Longfellow) graciously wrote: “All that I have read, from your pen, has inspired me with a high idea of your power; and [I think] you are destined to stand among the first romance-writers of the country, if such be your aim.”

Boston Public Library, Rare Books & Manuscripts

EDGAR ALLAN POE to RUFUS WILMOT GRISWOLD, Autographed Letter, May 29, 1841

My Dear Sir,

On the other leaf I send such poems as I think my best, from which you can select any which please your fancy. I should be proud to see one or two of them in your book. The one called “Haunted Palace” is that of which I spoke in reference to Prof. Longfellow’s plagiarism. I first published the H. P. in Brooks’ “Museum”, a monthly journal of Baltimore, now dead. Afterwards, I embodied it in a tale called “The House of Usher” in Burton’s Magazine. Here it was, I suppose, that Prof. Longfellow saw it; for, about 6 weeks afterwards, there appeared in the South. Lit. Mess: a poem by him called “The Beleaguered City”, which may now be found in his volume. The identity in tide is striking; for by the Haunted Palace I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms — a disordered brain — and by the Beleaguered City Prof. L. means just the same. But the whole tournure of the poem is based upon mine, as you will see at once. Its allegorical conduct, the style of its versification & expression — all are mine.

As I understood you to say chat you meant to preface each set of poems by some biographical notice, I have ventured to send you the above memo — the particulars of which (in a case where an author is so little known as myself) might not be easily obtained elsewhere.

“The Coliseum” was the prize poem alluded to above.

With high respect and esteem,

I am yr ob. st
Edgar A Poe

Source: http://www.eapoe.org/works/letters/p4105290.htm