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“The Philosophy of Composition” is an essay written by Edgar Allan Poe. Here, Poe discusses his approach to writing poetry, particularly focusing on the process of composing his famous poem, “The Raven.”
About the Author:
Edgar Allen Poe (1809- 1849) was an eminent American writer and notable literary critic. He is renowned for his poems and short stories. Famous works of his include ‘The Black Cat’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, and ‘Annabel Lee’.
The theme of this essay is the process of writing. Using his own work “The Raven”, the author pens down his views on this subject.
Poe begins by emphasizing the importance of unity of effect in a work of literature. He argues that a poem should aim to create a specific emotional or intellectual response in the reader and that every element of the poem should contribute to this effect. According to Poe, the ultimate goal of a poem is to evoke a single and dominant emotional response in the reader, which he refers to as the “tone” of the work.
Poe then proceeds to explain his method of composing “The Raven.” He describes how he carefully selected the poem’s subject matter, the death of a beautiful woman, as well as its setting, a midnight encounter with a talking raven. He justifies these choices by explaining how they contribute to the overall tone he wanted to achieve.
Furthermore, Poe emphasizes the importance of constructing a poem with a deliberate and meticulous plan. He argues against the common belief that poetry is a result of inspiration or spontaneous creation, claiming instead that it should be the product of careful and calculated reasoning. Poe suggests that the writer should consider every aspect of the poem, from the choice of words to the length and structure, with the aim of maximizing the desired effect on the reader.
Also, Poe addresses the importance of brevity and the significance of the ending in a poem in this essay. He argues that a poem should be concise and tightly structured, without any unnecessary elements that might distract from the intended effect. Additionally, he explains his decision to conclude “The Raven” with a sense of ambiguity, which he believes intensifies the emotional impact on the reader.
“The Philosophy of Composition” is thus a thought-provoking essay. It provides insight into Poe’s artistic process and his belief in the importance of careful planning and deliberate construction in creating a successful poem.