Abstract

In 1848 in Graham's Magazine Poe argued that there is one “little book” that no one will ever dare, or ever be able, to write: a true and complete autobiography. Poe contends that this book should be titled “My Heart Laid Bare” and adds that if someone attempted to write it, the page “would shrivel and blaze at every touch of the fiery pen.” Throughout his literary career, Poe actually wrote this book in increments as isolated passages in his poems, short stories, essays and reviews, and letters. These passages are not only candid and revealing of Poe's true nature and reflect various events in his life; they are often, even when embedded in prose works, effectively poetic and lyrical. Taken as a whole, they constitute an autobiographical poem, a beautifully phrased portrait of Poe as he conceived of himself, along with his conception of the role of the poet. This is a poem well worth extracting from Poe's work, for it is the seemingly impossible little book Poe actually did write over his entire career; it is his heart laid bare.

You do not currently have access to this content.