Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Don Pompioso,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), p. 7 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 7, continued:]


The following, by Charles Marshall Graves, is based on a reminiscence of Dr. John F. Carter (who saw much of Poe in 1849):

Dr. Carter tells me the story of “Don Pompioso”, one of the early poems, now lost. A young man had hurt Poe's feelings. He held himself too high to associate with the son of an actress and a pauper, and let the high-strung boy understand it. Soon a poem appeared on the street ridiculing this young man unmercifully. The girls at Mrs. MacKenzie's school, then at No. 506 East Franklin street, got hold of the poem and were laughing over it and wondering who its author was. That evening about dusk Poe dropped in at the school, where his sister lived ... A number of young people were in the parlor, and one of the girls asked him to read the poem aloud. This he did by the fading light, reading with a readiness that one could not possibly have shown without really repeating it from memory. “You wrote it!” they all cried, and he did not deny it. When the young man who had drawn the fire appeared on the street, he was peppered with allusions from the poem, with jests and gibes, and at length he was driven from the city.(1)

This account is, of course, at third hand, but Dr. Carter was alive at the time of the publication and had known intimately the Mackenzie family of Richmond, into which Rosalie Poe had been taken. Graves himself was of [[a]] good family in Richmond.

Mrs. Weiss tells this story with little variation,(2) but gives the title as “Don Pompiosa.”

Jay B. Hubbell, discussing “Oh, Tempora! Oh, Mores!”(3) argued against the identification of that satire with “Don Pompioso,” because the clerk lampooned in the surviving satire was not pompous. I incline to agree, but absolute certainty is impossible.


[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 7:]

1  Century Magazine, April 1904, p. 917

2  Home Life of Poe (1907), p, 34.

3  See below.



Dr. Carter's recollections appeared two years earlier than Marshall's article, in “Edgar Poe's Last Night in Richmond,” Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, November 1902, vol. LXX (whole no. 419), 70:562-566. Dr. Carter directly attributes the story to John Mackenzie. In his recollections, Dr. Carter calls the poem “Don Pompiosa,” and his article is clearly the source for Mrs. Weiss.


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