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date: 25 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines Poe’s strategic uses of unoriginality, generic convention, and cliché in his poems of the 1830s and 1840s. Rather than situating Poe as a champion of originality amid a culture of convention, I argue that Poe’s reviews and other essays on poetics theorize a principle of verse based upon the materiality of language, in which all poetic effects work on the model of the echo. Poe’s critiques of contemporary writers reveal highly counterintuitive views about originality, repetition, and plagiarism. In light of his arguments about poetic language, I read several of Poe’s shorter poems before turning to “The Raven,” examining first its debts to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship” before listening to its own sonorous practice of echoing.

Keywords: poetry, poetics, versification, convention, genre, repetition, echo, The Raven, Browning, unoriginal, plagiarism

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