Tag Archives: academics

Words of the Day: Edgar Allan Poe on poetical irritability

Edgar Allan Poe wrote about poetical irritability in his Fifty Suggestions, which was published in Graham’s Magazine in 1849, the year of Poe’s death:

hat poets (using the word comprehensively, as including artists in general) are a genus irritabile, is well understood; but the ruby, seems not to be commonly seen. An artist is an artist only by dint of his exquisite sense of Beauty — a sense affording him rapturous enjoyment, but at the same time implying, or involving, an equally exquisite sense of Deformity or disproportion. Thus a wrong — an injustice — done a poet who is really a poet, excites him to a degree which, to ordinary apprehension, appears disproportionate with the wrong. Poets see injustice — never where it does not exist — but very often where the unpoetical see no injustice whatever. Thus the poetical irritability has no reference to ” temper ” in the vulgar sense, but merely to a more than usual clear-sightedness in respect to Wrong: — this clear-sightedness being nothing more than a corollary from the vivid perception of Right — of justice — of proportion — in a word, of [beauty]. But one thing is clear — that the man who is not “irritable,” (to the ordinary apprehension, ) is no poet.

I gave this text to my students today — the first day of the new semester — in my Tortured Poet course, and I received some interesting responses. I love the emphasis on sensitivity to injustice… which lends itself, of course, to the Poet’s own feelings of victimization, sometimes self-inflicted.

And that’s what’s flitting through my mind right now, at 12:13AM.

More tomorrow.

Some links (hardly exhaustive, but a good little selection for you in case your Poe interest is piqued):

Poe Museum (Richmond, VA)
Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore
“The Raven in the Frog Pond: Edgar Allan Poe and the City of Boston” (an exhibition at the Boston Public Library)
“The Great Poe Debate” via wbur.org (Boston’s NPR affiliate)

{ Blog Note }

I decided to delete my other (older) blog earlier this evening. It was there that I would post literary/academic/political/pop-cultural items, commonly including excerpts from literature, essays, articles, etc.. Over the past several months (since last summer, really), I started neglecting that blog and focusing all my energy and passion on Words and Eggs, which I’ve loved. But I’m thinking that it has come time to do a bit of melding – or at least adding some adhesive to these two divisions of my Self (which, admittedly, stretch well beyond the blogging world: my artistic vs. my “academic” selves). So, I just wanted to let you all know that you can expect some more, well, WORDS. Whether literary or political or… whatever. And today’s words belong to Mr. Poe. And I hope you enjoyed listening to them.

Get organized.

A new semester starts tomorrow for me. I wish I had these awesome items from Present Correct to help me get organized:

In the time it just took me to create this post, I probably could have been prepping my first class tomorrow. But this is so much prettier.

🙂

Vintage Postage: Israel’s 1972 Education series

You’re not going to believe the ridiculous level of coolness owned by the vintage stamp designs I’m about to show you, which I discovered earlier today via Vintage Postage Stamps (a new Tumblr find that for which I have extremely high hopes). These little gems hail from Israel and were designed in 1972 as part of their Education series, which is comprised of four different stamp designs, each symbolizing a different stage of education (from the website of the Israel Philatelic Federation (IPF)):

I. Elementary school, the tab reading: “The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom… ” (Proverbs 4:7)


II. Secondary school, the tab reading: “Train upon a child in the way he should go… ” (Proverbs 22:6)

III. Vocational training, the tab reading: “…but all study of the law without labor
comes to naught at the last… ” (Pirkei Aboth 2)

IV. Academic training, the tab reading: “…but you shall meditate on it day and night… ” (Joshua 1:8)

Aren’t they gorgeous? More details for the series and each stamp design can be found at the IPF’s website HERE.

Yours in educational stamp glory,

Lesley