Globalization Poverty Development Sustainability
It seems to me that imagination and reasoning have reached magnificent heights with some writers, especially poets. Among them, I strongly believe, the highest ever was Edgar Allan Poe. With Baudelaire I state that "le poete est souverainement intelligent, qu'il est l'intelligence par excellence, -et que l'imagination est la plus scientifique des facultes, parce que seule elle comprend l'analogie universelle...". One of those poets was Edgar Allan Poe. I reproduce here "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe" as a gesture against what Baudelaire called "la ferocite de l'hypocrisie bourgeoise", and what I personally call mediocrity, imbecility, and comprehensive intellectual dishonesty, all of which is presented as "realistic thinking". And, as we know, contemporary development studies are full of  "realistic thinking". So, let us learn something from Edgar Allan Poe!.  (Róbinson Rojas)
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe V. 1
Volume 1 of the Raven Edition  #6 in our series by Edgar Allan Poe

Volume IV   Contents
The Devil in the Belfry
X-ing a Paragrab
The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether
The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.
How to Write a Blackwood article
A Predicament
The Angel of the Odd
Mellonia Tauta
The Duc de l'Omlette
The Oblong Box
Loss of Breath
The Man That Was Used Up
The Business Man
The Landscape Garden
Maelzel's Chess-Player
The Power of Words
The Colloquy of Monas and Una
The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
Shadow.--A Parable                              BACK TO MAIN INDEX
    IT was a chilly November afternoon.  I had just consummated an
unusually hearty dinner, of which the dyspeptic _truffe_ formed not
the least important item, and was sitting alone in the dining-room,
with my feet upon the fender, and at my elbow a small table which I
had rolled up to the fire, and upon which were some apologies for
dessert, with some miscellaneous bottles of wine, spirit and
_liqueur_.  In the morning I had been reading Glover's "Leonidas,"
Wilkie's "Epigoniad," Lamartine's "Pilgrimage," Barlow's "Columbiad,"
Tuckermann's "Sicily," and Griswold's "Curiosities" ;  I am willing
to confess, therefore, that I now felt a little stupid.  I made
effort to arouse myself by aid of frequent Lafitte, and, all failing,
I betook myself to a stray newspaper in despair.  Having carefully
perused the column of "houses to let," and the column of "dogs lost,"
and then the two columns of "wives and apprentices runaway," 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.  I was about
throwing away, in disgust,
    "This folio of four pages, happy work
    Which not even critics criticise,"
when I felt my attention somewhat aroused by the paragraph which
follows :
    "The avenues to death are numerous and strange.  A London paper
mentions the decease of a person from a singular cause.  He was
playing at 'puff the dart,' which is played with a long needle
inserted in some worsted, and blown at a target through  a tin tube.
He placed the needle at the wrong end of the tube, and drawing his
breath strongly to puff the dart forward with force, drew the needle
into his throat.  It entered the lungs, and in a few days killed
    Upon seeing this I fell into a great rage, without exactly
knowing why.  "This thing," I exclaimed, "is a contemptible falsehood
- a poor hoax - the lees of the invention of some pitiable
penny-a-liner - of some wretched concoctor of accidents in Cocaigne.
These fellows, knowing the extravagant gullibility of the age, set
their wits to work in the imagination of improbable possibilities -
of odd accidents, as they term them; but to a reflecting intellect
(like mine," I added, in parenthesis, putting my forefinger
unconsciously to the side of my nose,) "to a contemplative
understanding such as I myself possess, it seems evident at once that
the marvelous increase of late in these 'odd accidents' is by far the
oddest accident of all.  For my own part, I intend to believe nothing
henceforward that has anything of the 'singular' about it."
    "Mein Gott, den, vat a vool you bees for dat !" replied one of
the most remarkable voices I ever heard.  At first I took it for a
rumbling in my ears - such as a man sometimes experiences when
getting very drunk - but, upon second thought, I considered the sound
as more nearly resembling that which proceeds from an empty barrel
beaten with a big stick; and, in fact, this I should have concluded
it to be, but for the articulation of the syllables and words.  I am
by no means naturally nervous, and the very few glasses of Lafitte
which I had sipped served to embolden me no little, so that I felt
nothing of trepidation, but merely uplifted my eyes with a leisurely
movement, and looked carefully around the room for the intruder.  I
could not, however, perceive any one at all.
    "Humph !" resumed the voice, as I continued my survey, "you mus
pe so dronk as de pig, den, for not zee me as I zit here at your
    Hereupon I bethought me of looking immediately before my nose,
and there, sure enough, confronting me at the table sat a personage
nondescript, although not altogether indescribable.  His body was a
wine-pipe, or a rum-puncheon, or something of  that character, and
had a truly Falstaffian air.  In its nether extremity were inserted
two kegs, which seemed to answer all the purposes of legs.  For arms
there dangled from the upper portion of the carcass two tolerably
long bottles, with the necks outward for hands. All the head that I
saw the monster possessed of was one of those Hessian canteens which
resemble a large snuff-box with a hole in the middle of the lid.
This canteen (with a funnel on its top, like a cavalier cap slouched
over the eyes) was set on edge upon the puncheon, with the hole
toward myself; and through this hole, which seemed puckered up like
the mouth of a very precise old maid, the creature was emitting
certain rumbling and grumbling noises which he evidently intended for
intelligible talk.
    "I zay," said he, "you mos pe dronk as de pig, vor zit dare and
not zee me zit ere; and I zay, doo, you mos pe pigger vool as de
goose, vor to dispelief vat iz print in de print.  'Tiz de troof -
dat it iz - eberry vord ob it."
    "Who are you, pray ?" said I, with much dignity, although
somewhat puzzled; "how did you get here ?  and what is it you are
talking about ?"
    "Az vor ow I com'd ere," replied the figure, "dat iz none of your
pizzness; and as vor vat I be talking apout, I be talk apout vat I
tink proper; and as vor who I be, vy dat is de very ting I com'd here
for to let you zee for yourzelf."
    "You are a drunken vagabond," said I, "and I shall ring the bell
and order my footman to kick you into the street."
    "He !  he !  he !" said the fellow, "hu !  hu !  hu !  dat you
can't do."
    "Can't do !" said I, "what do you mean ?  - I can't do what ?"
    "Ring de pell ;" he replied, attempting a grin with his little
villanous mouth.
    Upon this I made an effort to get up, in order to put my threat
into execution; but the ruffian just reached across the table very
deliberately, and hitting me a tap on the forehead with the neck of
one of the long bottles, knocked me back into the arm-chair from
which I had half arisen.  I was utterly astounded; and, for a moment,
was quite at a loss what to do.  In the meantime, he continued his
    "You zee," said he, "it iz te bess vor zit still; and now you
shall know who I pe.  Look at me !  zee !  I am te _Angel ov te
    "And odd enough, too," I ventured to reply; "but I was always
under the impression that an angel had wings."
    "Te wing  !" he cried, highly incensed, "vat I pe do mit te wing
?  Mein Gott !  do you take me vor a shicken ?"
    "No - oh no !" I replied, much alarmed, "you are no chicken -
certainly not."
    "Well, den, zit still and pehabe yourself, or I'll rap you again
mid me vist.  It iz te shicken ab te wing, und te owl ab te wing, und
te imp ab te wing, und te head-teuffel ab te wing.  Te angel ab _not_
te wing, and I am te _Angel ov te Odd_."
    "And your business with me at present is - is" -
    "My pizzness !" ejaculated the thing, "vy vat a low bred buppy
you mos pe vor to ask a gentleman und an angel apout his pizziness !"
    This language was rather more than I could bear, even from an
angel; so, plucking up courage, I seized a salt-cellar which lay
within reach, and hurled it at the head of the intruder.  Either he
dodged, however, or my aim was inaccurate; for all I accomplished was
the demolition of the crystal which protected the dial of the clock
upon the mantel-piece.  As for the Angel, he evinced his sense of my
assault by giving me two or three hard consecutive raps upon the
forehead as before.  These reduced me at once to submission, and I am
almost ashamed to confess that either through pain or vexation, there
came a few tears into my eyes.
    "Mein Gott !" said the Angel of the Odd, apparently much softened
at my distress; "mein Gott, te man is eder ferry dronk or ferry
zorry.  You mos not trink it so strong - you mos put te water in te
wine.  Here, trink dis, like a goot veller, und don't gry now - don't
    Hereupon the Angel of the Odd replenished my goblet (which was
about a third full of Port) with a colorless fluid that he poured
from one of his hand bottles.  I observed that these bottles had
labels about their necks, and that these labels were inscribed
    The considerate kindness of the Angel mollified me in no little
measure; and, aided by the water with which he diluted my Port more
than once, I at length regained sufficient temper to listen to his
very extraordinary discourse.  I cannot pretend to recount all that
he told me, but I gleaned from what he said that he was the genius
who presided over the _contretemps_ of mankind, and whose business it
was to bring about the _odd accidents_ which are continually
astonishing the skeptic.  Once or twice, upon my venturing to express
my total incredulity in respect to his pretensions, he grew very
angry indeed, so that at length I considered it the wiser policy to
say nothing at all, and let him have his own way.  He talked on,
therefore, at great length, while I merely leaned back in my chair
with my eyes shut, and amused myself with munching raisins and
filliping the stems about the room.  But, by-and-by, the Angel
suddenly construed this behavior of mine into contempt.  He arose in
a terrible passion, slouched his funnel down over his eyes, swore a
vast oath, uttered a threat of some character which I did not
precisely comprehend, and finally made me a low bow and departed,
wishing me, in the language of the archbishop in Gil-Blas, "_beaucoup
de bonheur et un peu plus de bon sens_."
    His departure afforded me relief.  The _very_ few glasses of
Lafitte that I had sipped had the effect of rendering me drowsy, and
I felt inclined to take a nap of some fifteen or twenty minutes, as
is my custom after dinner.  At six I had an appointment of
consequence, which it was quite indispensable that I should keep.
The policy of insurance for my dwelling house had expired the day
before; and, some dispute having arisen, it was agreed that, at six,
I should meet the board of directors of the company and settle the
terms of a renewal.  Glancing upward at the clock on the
mantel-piece, (for I felt too drowsy to take out my watch), I had the
pleasure to find that I had still twenty-five minutes to spare. It
was half past five; I could easily walk to the insurance office in
five minutes; and my usual siestas had never been known to exceed
five and twenty.  I felt sufficiently safe, therefore, and composed
myself to my slumbers forthwith.
    Having completed them to my satisfaction, I again looked   toward
the time-piece and was half inclined to believe in the possibility of
odd accidents when I found that, instead of my ordinary fifteen or
twenty minutes, I had been dozing only three; for it still wanted
seven and twenty of the appointed hour.  I betook myself again to my
nap, and at length a second time awoke, when, to my utter amazement,
it _still_ wanted twenty-seven minutes of six.  I jumped up to
examine the clock, and found that it had ceased running.  My watch
informed me that it was half past seven; and, of course, having slept
two hours, I was too late for my appointment.  "It will make no
difference," I said :  "I can call at the office in the morning and
apologize; in the meantime what can be the matter with the clock ?"
Upon examining it I discovered that one of the raisin stems which I
had been filliping about the room during the discourse of the Angel
of the Odd, had flown through the fractured crystal, and lodging,
singularly enough, in the key-hole, with an end projecting outward,
had thus arrested the revolution of the minute hand.
    "Ah !" said I, "I see how it is.  This thing speaks for itself.
A natural accident, such as _will_ happen now and then !"
    I gave the matter no further consideration, and at my usual hour
retired to bed.  Here, having placed a candle upon a reading stand at
the bed head, and having made an attempt to peruse some pages of the
"Omnipresence of the Deity," I unfortunately fell asleep in less than
twenty seconds, leaving the light burning as it was.
    My dreams were terrifically disturbed by visions of the Angel of
the Odd.  Methought he stood at the foot of the couch, drew aside the
curtains, and, in the hollow, detestable tones of a rum puncheon,
menaced me with the bitterest vengeance for the contempt with which I
had treated him.  He concluded a long harangue by taking off his
funnel-cap, inserting the tube into my gullet, and thus deluging me
with an ocean of Kirschenwässer, which he poured, in a continuous
flood, from one of the long necked bottles that stood him instead of
an arm.  My agony was at length insufferable, and I awoke just in
time to perceive that a rat had ran off with the lighted candle from
the stand, but _not_ in season to prevent his making his escape with
it through the hole.  Very soon, a strong suffocating odor assailed
my nostrils;   the house, I clearly perceived, was on fire. In a few
minutes the blaze broke forth with violence, and in an incredibly
brief period the entire building was wrapped in flames.  All egress
from my chamber, except through a window, was cut off.  The crowd,
however, quickly procured and raised a long ladder.  By means of this
I was descending rapidly, and in apparent safety, when a huge hog,
about whose rotund stomach, and indeed about whose whole air and
physiognomy, there was something which reminded me of the Angel of
the Odd, - when this hog, I say, which hitherto had been quietly
slumbering in the mud, took it suddenly into his head that his left
shoulder needed scratching, and could find no more convenient
rubbing-post than that afforded by the foot of the ladder.  In an
instant I was precipitated and had the misfortune to fracture my arm.
    This accident, with the loss of my insurance, and with the more
serious loss of my hair, the whole of which had been singed off by
the fire, predisposed me to serious impressions, so that, finally, I
made up my mind to take a wife.  There was a rich widow disconsolate
for the loss of her seventh husband, and to her wounded spirit I
offered the balm of my vows.  She yielded a reluctant consent to my
prayers.  I knelt at her feet in gratitude and adoration.  She
blushed and bowed her luxuriant tresses into close contact with those
supplied me, temporarily, by Grandjean. I know not how the
entanglement took place, but so it was.  I arose with a shining pate,
wigless ;  she in disdain and wrath, half buried in alien hair.  Thus
ended my hopes of the widow by an accident which could not have been
anticipated, to be sure, but which the natural sequence of events had
brought about.
    Without despairing, however, I undertook the siege of a less
implacable heart.  The fates were again propitious for a brief
period; but again a trivial incident interfered.  Meeting my
betrothed in an avenue thronged with the _élite_ of the city, I was
hastening to greet her with one of my best considered bows, when a
small particle of some foreign matter, lodging in the corner of my
eye, rendered me, for the moment, completely blind.  Before I could
recover my sight, the lady of my love had disappeared - irreparably
affronted at what she chose to  consider my premeditated rudeness in
passing her by ungreeted.  While I stood bewildered at the suddenness
of this accident, (which might have happened, nevertheless, to any
one under the sun), and while I still continued incapable of sight, I
was accosted by the Angel of the Odd, who proffered me his aid with a
civility which I had no reason to expect.  He examined my disordered
eye with much gentleness and skill, informed me that I had a drop in
it, and (whatever a "drop" was) took it out, and afforded me relief.
    I now considered it high time to die, (since fortune had so
determined to persecute me,) and accordingly made my way to the
nearest river.  Here, divesting myself of my clothes, (for there is
no reason why we cannot die as we were born), I threw myself headlong
into the current; the sole witness of my fate being a solitary crow
that had been seduced into the eating of brandy-saturated corn, and
so had staggered away from his fellows.  No sooner had I entered the
water than this bird took it into its head to fly away with the most
indispensable portion of my apparel. Postponing, therefore, for the
present, my suicidal design, I just slipped my nether extremities
into the sleeves of my coat, and betook myself to a pursuit of the
felon with all the nimbleness which the case required and its
circumstances would admit.  But my evil destiny attended me still. As
I ran at full speed, with my nose up in the atmosphere, and intent
only upon the purloiner of my property, I suddenly perceived that my
feet rested no longer upon _terra-firma_; the fact is, I had thrown
myself over a precipice, and should inevitably have been dashed to
pieces but for my good fortune in grasping the end of a long
guide-rope, which depended from a passing balloon.
    As soon as I sufficiently recovered my senses to comprehend the
terrific predicament in which I stood or rather hung, I exerted all
the power of my lungs to make that predicament known to the ćronaut
overhead.  But for a long time I exerted myself in vain.  Either the
fool could not, or the villain would not perceive me.  Meantime the
machine rapidly soared, while my strength even more rapidly failed.
I was soon upon the point of resigning myself to my fate, and
dropping quietly into the sea, when my spirits were suddenly revived
by hearing a  hollow voice from above, which seemed to be lazily
humming an opera air.  Looking up, I perceived the Angel of the Odd.
He was leaning with his arms folded, over the rim of the car ;  and
with a pipe in his mouth, at which he puffed leisurely, seemed to be
upon excellent terms with himself and the universe. I was too much
exhausted to speak, so I merely regarded him with an imploring air.
    For several minutes, although he looked me full in the face, he
said nothing.  At length removing carefully his meerschaum from the
right to the left corner of his mouth, he condescended to speak.
    "Who pe you," he asked, "und what der teuffel you pe do dare ?"
    To this piece of impudence, cruelty and affectation, I could
reply only by ejaculating the monosyllable "Help !"
    "Elp !" echoed the ruffian - "not I.  Dare iz te pottle - elp
yourself, und pe tam'd !"
    With these words he let fall a heavy bottle of Kirschenwasser
which, dropping precisely upon the crown of my head, caused me to
imagine that my brains were entirely knocked out.  Impressed with
this idea, I was about to relinquish my hold and give up the ghost
with a good grace, when I was arrested by the cry of the Angel, who
bade me hold on.
    "Old on !" he said; "don't pe in te urry - don't. Will you pe
take de odder pottle, or ave you pe got zober yet and come to your
zenzes ?"
    I made haste, hereupon, to nod my head twice - once in the
negative, meaning thereby that I would prefer not taking the other
bottle at present - and once in the affirmative, intending thus to
imply that I _was_ sober and _had_ positively come to my senses.  By
these means I somewhat softened the Angel.
    "Und you pelief, ten," he inquired, "at te last ? You pelief,
ten, in te possibilty of te odd ?"
    I again nodded my head in assent.
    "Und you ave pelief in _me_, te Angel of te Odd ?"
    I nodded again.
    "Und you acknowledge tat you pe te blind dronk and te vool ?"
    I nodded once more.
    "Put your right hand into your left hand preeches pocket, ten, in
token ov your vull zubmizzion unto te Angel ov te Odd."
    This thing, for very obvious reasons, I found it quite impossible
to do.  In the first place, my left arm had been broken in my fall
from the ladder, and, therefore, had I let go my hold with the right
hand, I must have let go altogether.  In the second place, I could
have no breeches until I came across the crow.  I was therefore
obliged, much to my regret, to shake my head in the negative -
intending thus to give the Angel to understand that I found it
inconvenient, just at that moment, to comply with his very reasonable
demand !  No sooner, however, had I ceased shaking my head than -
    "Go to der teuffel, ten !" roared the Angel of the Odd.
    In pronouncing these words, he drew a sharp knife across the
guide-rope by which I was suspended, and as we then happened to be
precisely over my own house, (which, during my peregrinations, had
been handsomely rebuilt,) it so occurred that I tumbled headlong down
the ample chimney and alit upon the dining-room hearth.
    Upon coming to my senses, (for the fall had very thoroughly
stunned me,) I found it about four o'clock in the morning.  I lay
outstretched where I had fallen from the balloon.  My head grovelled
in the ashes of an extinguished fire, while my feet reposed upon the
wreck of a small table, overthrown, and amid the fragments of a
miscellaneous dessert, intermingled with a newspaper, some broken
glass and shattered bottles, and an empty jug of the Schiedam
Kirschenwasser.  Thus revenged himself the Angel of the Odd.

[Mabbott states that Griswold "obviously had a revised form" for use
in the 1856 volume of Poe's works. Mabbott does not substantiate this
claim, but it is surely not unreasonable. An editor, and even
typographical errors, may have produced nearly all of the very minor
changes made in this version. (Indeed, two very necessary words were
clearly dropped by accident.) An editor might have corrected
"Wickliffe's 'Epigoniad' " to "Wilkie's 'Epigoniad'," but is unlikely
to have added "Tuckerman's 'Sicily' " to the list of books read by
the narrator. Griswold was not above forgery (in Poe's letters) when
it suited his purpose, but would have too little to gain by such an
effort in this instance.]
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