Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Epistola ad Magistrum,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 4-5 (This material is protected by copyright)


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­[page 4, continued:]

[EPISTOLA AD MAGISTRUM]

When Poe’s schoolmaster Joseph H. Clarke was about eighty years old, he talked with a newspaper reporter in Baltimore. A clipping about this interview, unfortunately undated, was given to a Richmond newspaperman in 1892 by Clarke’s son, and was used by Mrs. Weiss in her Home Life of Poe, p. 24. Mr. Clarke “spoke with pride of Edgar as a student, especially in the classics. He and Nat Howard on one vacation each wrote him a complimentary letter in Latin, both equally excellent in point of scholarship; but Edgar’s was in verse, which Nat could not write.”

Although Clarke had his students play at capping verses, he seems not to have followed the English fashion of making them compose them. It is possible that Poe had been given instruction in this “art” by his earlier teacher, the Reverend John Bransby at Stoke Newington. Schoolboy Latin verses are commonly, as the reader of Tom Brown’s School-Days will recall, at best little more than centos, poems made up of lines from other poems.

One regrets the loss of Poe’s Latin verses, presumably (like the Epistolae of his favorite Horace) in dactylic hexameters. Poe ­[page 5:] is not known to have composed anything else in verse save in English. The probable date is summer of 1822.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Epistola ad Magistrum)