Edgar Allan Poe Quotes

Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 – 1849

Born: 19 January 1809, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 7 October 1849, Baltimore, Maryland

Born Edgar Poe, his parents were itinerant actors. His father had already abandoned his family when he died a year later, his mother died in 1813 and Edgar Was raised by wealthy Virginia tobacco merchant John Allan, providing him with a middle name and several years education in England. He went to the University of Virginia for a year but was expelled for unpaid gambling debts. John Allan refused to cover the IOUs and disowned his foster son. In 1827 Poe joined the army under an assumed name, rising to Sergeant Major before leaving, only to enter West Point. Again he left after a year, this time intentionally getting himself court martialed. Inspired by the prize from a literary competition, he set out to live entirely on his writing income which was meager and sporadic. (He sold The Raven for only $15.00.) He married a young cousin in 1836 but her health was poor and for much of their marriage she was an invalid. After her death he was increasingly depressed and alcohol got the better of him. Despite that he was a major contributor to science fiction (Jules Verne was a great admirer of his work), wrote the first modern detective stories, and was regarded as one of the most accomplished literary critics of his era. His first volume, Tamerlane and Other Poems, was printed at his own expense; only twelve copies are known to exist, one of which holds the record for the most valuable literary work of an American author. On election day in 1849 he was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and wearing someone else’s clothing, he died in hospital four days later.

Most of these quotes are from his prose work, the Wikiquote link below has a significant amount of his poetry, and The Raven is in our Specials collection.

Edgar Allan Poe quotes:

A poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Poetic Principle” (1850)

A strong argument for the religion of Christ is this — that offenses against Charity are about the only ones which men on their death-beds can be made, not to understand, but to feel, as crime.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Marginalia” in Democratic Review (November 1844)

After reading all that has been written, and after thinking all that can be thought on the topics of God and the soul, the man who has a right to say that he thinks at all, will find himself face to face with the conclusion that, on these topics, the most profound thought is that which can be the least easily distinguished from the most superficial sentiment.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Marginalia” in Democratic Review (November 1844)

All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.
    Edgar Allan Poe

All that we see and seem is but a dream within a dream.
    Edgar Allan Poe

As an individual, I myself feel impelled to fancy a limitless succession of Universes. Each exists, apart and independently, in the bosom of its proper and particular God.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Believe me, there exists no such dilemma as that in which a gentleman is placed when he is forced to reply to a blackguard.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.
    Edgar Allan Poe

But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Berenice” (1835)

Convinced myself, I seek not to convince.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Berenice” (1835)

Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842)

Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Few persons can be made to believe that it is not quite an easy thing to invent a method of secret writing which shall baffle investigation. Yet it may be roundly asserted that human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “A Few Words on Secret Writing” in Graham’s Magazine (July 1841)

How many good books suffer neglect through the inefficiency of their beginnings!
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Marginalia” in Democratic Review (November 1844)

I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity.
    Edgar Allan Poe

I attacked with great resolution the editorial matter, and, reading it from beginning to end without understanding a syllable, conceived the possibility of its being Chinese, and so re-read it from the end to the beginning, but with no more satisfactory result.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Angel of the Odd” (1850)

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.
    Edgar Allan Poe

I dread the events of the future, not in themselves but in their results.
    Edgar Allan Poe

I have great faith in fools – self confidence my friends call it.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Marginalia” in Democratic Review (November 1844)

I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active – not more happy – nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.
    Edgar Allan Poe

I hold that a long poem does not exist. I maintain that the phrase, “a long poem,” is simply a flat contradiction in terms.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Poetic Principle” (1850)

I intend to put up with nothing that I can put down.
    Edgar Allan Poe

I need scarcely observe that a poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul. The value of the poem is in the ratio of this elevating excitement. But all excitements are, through a psychal necessity, transient.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Poetic Principle” (1850)

I was never really insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.
    Edgar Allan Poe

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.
    Edgar Allan Poe

I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as the Rhythmical Creation of Beauty. Its sole arbiter is taste. With the intellect or with the conscience, it has only collateral relations. Unless incidentally, it has no concern whatever either with duty or with truth.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Poetic Principle” (1850)

If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Marginalia” in Democratic Review (November 1844)

In criticism, I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with friend and foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me.
    Edgar Allan Poe

In efforts to soar above our nature we invariably fall below it.
    Edgar Allan Poe

In one case out of a hundred a point is excessively discussed because it is obscure; in the ninety-nine remaining it is obscure because it is excessively discussed.
    Edgar Allan Poe

In reading some books we occupy ourselves chiefly with the thoughts of the author; in perusing others, exclusively with our own.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Marginalia” in Democratic Review (November 1844)

Invisible things are the only realities.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Loss of Breath” (1850)

It is with literature as with law or empire — an established name is an estate in tenure, or a throne in possession.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Letter to Mr. B — “, preface to Poems (1831)

It may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an enigma … which human ingenuity may not, by proper application, resolve.
    Edgar Allan Poe

It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never less than analytic.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong and if need be, taken by the strong. The weak were put on earth to give the strong pleasure.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Literature is the most noble of professions. In fact, it is about the only one fit for a man. For my own part, there is no seducing me from the path.
    Edgar Allan Poe – Letter to Frederick W. Thomas (14 February 1849)

Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Raising the Wind” in Saturday Courier (14 October 1843)

Man’s real life is happy, chiefly because he is ever expecting that it soon will be so.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence — whether much that is glorious — whether all that is profound — does not spring from disease of thought — from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.
    Edgar Allan Poe – Complete Tales and Poems ()

Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry; music without the idea is simply music; the idea without the music is prose from its very definitiveness.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Letter to Mr. B — “, preface to Poems (1831)

Mysteries force a man to think, and so injure his health.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” (1850)

Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Stupidity is a talent for misconceptions.
    Edgar Allan Poe

That man is not truly brave who is afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Marginalia” in Democratic Review (November 1844)

That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.
    Edgar Allan Poe

That which you mistake for madness is but an overacuteness of the senses.
    Edgar Allan Poe

The best place to hide anything is in plain view.
    Edgar Allan Poe – The Purloined Letter (1844)

The best things in life make you sweaty.
    Edgar Allan Poe

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins?
    Edgar Allan Poe – The Premature Burial (1844)

The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.
    Edgar Allan Poe

The ninety and nine are with dreams, content
  but the hope of the world made new,
is the hundredth man who is grimly bent
  on making those dreams come true.
    Edgar Allan Poe

The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.
    Edgar Allan Poe

The past is a pebble in my shoe.
    Edgar Allan Poe

The true genius shudders at incompleteness – and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.
    Edgar Allan Poe

There are few cases in which mere popularity should be considered a proper test of merit; but the case of song-writing is, I think, one of the few.
    Edgar Allan Poe

There are moments when even to the sober eye of reason, the world of our sad humanity may assume the semblance of Hell.
    Edgar Allan Poe

There are some secrets which do not permit themselves to be told.
    Edgar Allan Poe

There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Black Cat” (1843)

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “Eleonora” (1841)

To observe attentively is to remember distinctly.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841)

We loved with a love that was more than love.
    Edgar Allan Poe

When, indeed, men speak of Beauty, they mean, precisely, not a quality, as is supposed, but an effect — they refer, in short, just to that intense and pure elevation of soul — not of intellect, or of heart.
    Edgar Allan Poe

With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not — they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind.
    Edgar Allan Poe – Preface to The Raven and Other Poems (1845)

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.
    Edgar Allan Poe

Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart; ;one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Black Cat” (1843)

Yet mad I am not … and very surely do I not dream.
    Edgar Allan Poe – “The Black Cat” (1843)

You need not attempt to shake off or to banter off Romance. It is an evil you will never get rid of to the end of your days. It is a part of yourself … of your soul. Age will only mellow it a little, and give it a holier tone.
    Edgar Allan Poe

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