Tag Archives: writing

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.

La rentrée scolaire!/Back to School!

Another semester begins for me tomorrow. Unbelievable. Almost as unbelievable as the fact that, every September, the “Back to School” theme to Grease 2 is a permanent fixture in my head.

“Gotta go back (back) back, back to school again…”

3198874513_c80e039a5c {Source}






And, my personal favorite:


Don’t spit on the floor or lodge your pen in your ear while in my class, please.

French Friday (on Saturday. Again.)

For this, the first installment of French Friday 2009, I thought it appropriate to post some vintage French Christmas and New Year’s images. But not just any old holiday images. No no. I’ve decided to offer you some vintage shots of elegantly lettered/typed, holiday restaurant menus. (*Note: I am now on a handwriting-advocator kick ever since I encountered Anne Trubek’s article, which I freaked out about discussed yesterday on my other blog)

Oh, one more thing before I introduce the images to you: if you haven’t yet eaten dinner, you might wish to wait a bit before checking out the following images. See how I look out for you? You’re welcome.


(Image above & the “Jour de l’An” menu below found ICI)


(Image above found ICI)


(Image above found ICI)


And then a couple non-holiday vintage French menus:


(Image above found ICI)

b791_1-1(Image above found ICI)


(Image above found ICI)


(Image above, from the Siege of Paris, found ICI)

Please Sign Here

I love discovering the handwriting of my most cherished writers. And I like to delude myself into thinking that a writer’s autograph reveals top-secret, mind-blowing info, only to me. Usually that exclusive info conveniently coincides with my preconceived notions about the personality of the author, thereby proving that my stellar investigative work is nothing if not accurate and well-informed.

Does the signature slant to the right? If so, I bet that author would have been my friend were I to live at their time. Does it slant to the left? Well, they would have wanted to be my friend too, but it might have required more of an effort on their part. Especially with regard to their predilection toward derby hats. See how it works?

I am also interested in the legibility and crispness of the script — or if it’s not script at all. Are there flourishes or extreme angles? If so, then I’m pretty sure you like Picasso. And absinthe.

It must be stated that I’ve never read one of those books on handwriting analysis, but I have no doubt it would become an instant obsession of mine. And I’d probably take creative license in my interpretations of preferred authors.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to display a little series of authors’ signatures. There are so many I love, so… please do not judge the order or omissions… There will be many more to come.

Now then, Part One of my Signature Series: