by Robert Giordano, created 08 Jul 2005 2:10am
Poe wrote the following which appeared in Graham's Magazine in 1849:
"That poets (using the word comprehensively, as including artists in general) are a genus irritabile, is well understood; but the ruby, seems not to be commonly seen. An artist is an artist only by dint of his exquisite sense of Beauty - a sense affording him rapturous enjoyment, but at the same time implying, or involving, an equally exquisite sense of Deformity or disproportion. Thus a wrong - an injustice - done a poet who is really a poet, excites him to a degree which, to ordinary apprehension, appears disproportionate with the wrong. Poets see injustice - never where it does not exist - but very often where the unpoetical see no injustice whatever. Thus the poetical irritability has no reference to "temper" in the vulgar sense, but merely to a more than usual clear-sightedness in respect to Wrong: - this clear-sightedness being nothing more than a corollary from the vivid perception of Right - of justice of proportion - in a word, of xxxxxx [Greek text]. But one thing is clear - that the man who is not "irritable" (to the ordinary apprehension), is no poet." [source]
This makes perfect sense to me and I couldn't agree more, dammit! In addition to the reason Poe gives, I think artists are simply more emotional in general. Now learn how to drive or get the hell out of my way!
Newest comments at the bottom
27 Jan 2006 8:18pm, sykilds
"I think that those who are less affected by the world around them would find it hard to create art with sufficient substance, and without that substance, what one writes, draws, composes, etc. is nothing but hollow, dull, and unentertaining. Emily Dickinson offers keen observations of the world around her that someone who lacked the irritability Poe describes here would simply not be able to accomplish. The same can be said for Poe's ability to set an atmosphere for his works."
27 Jan 2006 11:23pm, rob
"Yes, I totally agree. I think quite a bit of today's "art" is created solely for commercial purposes and lacks the depth that an artist's personal struggles give any great creative work. I think that's called "soul" or something."
09 Mar 2006 4:22am, Emailme2448
"I'm with it!!! This is more reason to love Mr. Poe's stories and poems. I feel those content with the surroundings that bind them have no reason to speak out, to express themselves. Why should they? They see no wrong with the world they live in. Yet those irritated at the system in some way feel the dire need to express themselves. And why the hell not! Express your anger in a positive way! An artistic expression of irritability beats violence any day, in any way. Anger is as a natural as happiness. Irritability is only a weakness in your traits if you cannot control your actions. Release that emotion on canvas or paper; you might get a classic or masterpiece. YOU MIGHT JUST PISS SOMEONE OFF ENOUGH TO MAKE A CHANGE!!!!"
12 Mar 2006 3:43am, kalyiel
"I must agree with him, because I know myself. I write (even if I'm no miracle of literature myself), and writing always includes strong feelings. Irritability, I think, was for Poe (the way I perceived it) the strong sensibility of a poet which ends up in augmenting the basic feeling. Poe emphasised indignation and a sense of justice in that quote, those probably being the feelings which gave him the impulse to write. But each writer has his own set of pressuring emotions. For some, love and gratitude work best; for others (like myself, even), deep sadness and disappointment are the key. Either way, an artist must have some kind of hypersensibility, because that might be the only way to understand the world."
03 Nov 2006 12:59pm, kristopher9876
"Hey! I found a great site on the popularity of literary and other famous personalities. Edgar Allan Poe is ranked as 38th in literature and 288 in popular personality in the internet. Please check out the link http://www.thepoplist.com/card.data/Edgar%20Allan%20Poe_19989349.htm He is ahead of Agatha Christie and others. It's a dynamic site and indicates his popularity is growing and falling over last month but he touched 29th position repeatedly. Site also tells you he is Capricorn at number 25 position."
26 Nov 2006 11:43pm, whitewingedpain
"I love this because Poe is explaining exactly what the true essence of a poet is. A poet is someone who sees the regularly unseen, and puts it into terms any human with any sense of thought or capacity for depicting information could understand. Everything he says in that article truly depicts everything a poet should strive for and explains exactly why we are misunderstood. People hate us because we can see their flaws no matter how invisible they are thought to be, people hate us because we can express what they can't even feel, people hate us because we can't understand the darker side of humanity when they can't even see it."
18 Mar 2007 7:49pm, moon_is_mine03
"The tragedies in my life and the ignorance and cruel treatment given to me and others like me has made me extremely irritable. Poe must have felt the weight of the world on his shoulders and expressed these feelings through his stories. My father made my mother and I very upset. His drinking and his insensitive and monstrous behavior caused her depression to worsen and as you can expect offered her little comfort on her death bed. After she died I began collecting her notebooks fearing his girlfriend might burn them. What I thought were gardening notes and memos were pages and pages of poetry. "To be thoroughly conversant with a man's heart, is to take our final lesson in the iron-clasped volume of despair."-Poe. The true artist is also strong because they bear the burden of knowing the darkness of humanity. If those other people were to have all that strain placed upon them, they would be crushed."
31 May 2007 10:28am, heaven_woodard2000
""Exactly"! thats what I have been trying and trying to get people to understand. Finally people who know what i am talking about. Poetry I believe brings (People) together, because you show a part of your life through the good and the bad. It's there for others that are in need of sympathy and sort of receive it through your work. Not just poetry but art too! I just have this LOVE for anything to do with art. I just cant explain enough of how much I love ART!"
20 Oct 2007 11:07am, ne_pofazz
"Only a person who senses intense feelings, can really become a real poet-writer. Even if you manage write a best-seller (for example), if you don't have strong, intense feelings, you won't become a good writer, and will be forgotten soon. At the same time, i disagree to the fact, that all good poets-writers-artists are (should be) irritable... you can be just as good if you are a calm person, or any other type of character you have. The only important thing is that your feeling be continuous and not unpredictable. The only impact it has is the the genre of your creations, and the themes you use. ...btw, i do prefer "irritable" poets such as Poe"
26 Oct 2007 1:04am, snazzyxangelique
"gah! I LOVE edgar allan poe. I'm only 14 and I understand most of his work. I admire him and desire to read more of his work. My favorites are "The Raven" "The Fall of the House of Usher" and most of all "Tell Tale Heart" :DDDD I love it so much."
14 Nov 2007 3:13pm, jen_poet_
"Here's a little something I wrote about the tortured grumpy artist, myself included!
Are we THAT horrible,
that we must be so grumpy?
not striving to live tortured lives,
like magnets, these things come in.
Acceptance our motivation?
To unearth this hideousness,
there IS an advantage:
at least we know who we REALLY are,
no MASKS here! fakeness never abided here,
but courtesy certainly would be a plus,
in fact- I'm hesitant to say-a MUST!"
31 Jan 2008 1:44pm, towsonskater
"People with a perfect life have no imagination. Simple as that. Troubled people can think up lots of stories, which usually relate somewhat to their life."
28 Oct 2008 9:34pm, tsunasuke_1
"I agree with poe here. Though it doesn't have to be irritability. But any emotion that is extra sensitive. Take happiness just as anger. Dreams could fuel some writers and that closer link to their imagination could make everyday things seem extraordinary, while most people see the plain day. I think any artist in general, that can take an emotion or anything and pull the audience into the same state that the artist is feeling in that moment is truly an artist. I don't think there is such thing as a perfect life. Perfect is an opinion so its not a definite ideal for everyone. People that are content with no expression just seem like corpses to me."
30 Oct 2008 10:38am, hellfyre
"Yes. True artists are easily irritable because they do not like to be distracted or detoured from their work, not when they truly love what they do. It's quite interesting to watch someone who is irritating an artist because artistic people in themselves are overly emotional or not emotional enough face to face and often over-react to silly things. Enlightened people are just as bad, when you understand an artist you sometimes act like them. I for one love to write and I'm the easiest person to irritate on the planet. Though there are some mild tempered artists, they are usually few and far between."
30 Oct 2008 12:55pm, kaylin22630
"Yes true artists are irritable! In order to do what they need to do they must reach deep down inside themselves to find true beauty, a beauty so deep that only they can comprehend it entirely. This could take hours, days, weeks, months, years, forever and would this not make you irritable? Think about it not just mentally but phyically as well as any other way. Try to succeed in making true art. If you do not succeed in this try to help an unknown artist become a known artist. Thanks for your time and mind, Broken Hearted♥"
09 Nov 2008 7:39pm, chef_lissy
"I think that an artist can be very accomplished without being irritable. Lets face it, over the years artist have been stereotyped as peculiar, irritating and on occasion, down right mean freaks nature and we love it. They are expressed as different or eccentric because they are fearless critics of the world, like the average Joe wishes he could be. Why shouldn't artists be irritable? They see the world for what it really is, pull back the curtain and find the man at the controls. Perhaps its simply that they have experienced reality, and the world in contrast is seen as painfully petty. We are like bees in a hive, so engrossed with our own lives, we fail to see the world around us. Artists are special human beings who have been blessed with the ability to read between the lines and see what others refuse to. It is a scary, lonely existence that only the bravest soul takes on. The reward? That maybe by some slim chance they could make a difference in this blind world. Aly, 15"
16 Dec 2008 12:58pm, shawnte
"The world revolves around him. Creepy!"
01 Apr 2009 9:54am, hitorisubaku
"I think artists do feel more. That's what makes their works 'stand out'. Someone said that most "art" now is for commercial purposes and I have to agree. I believe anyone can 'write' a poem or story but it takes a true 'artist' to make someone feel exactly as they do. They can suck you up into their world and you feel every pinch and every pull as if you had made the story yourself and you were living it. For instance, I couldn't write a poem to save my life. Sure, I can make it rhyme and by the time I'm done, it's just pen on paper. Poe could write his version of insight to the human mind with no problem. He had delt with more pain, than most of us go through in our intire lives. It's kind of like "you can't say something about someone, till you walk a mile in their shoes"? (It may be alittle different). He wrote what he felt and didn't care what anyone thought. Art today is about pleasing the masses and money munchers. So called artists need to take a walk down Poe Road,some time."
09 Aug 2009 4:06am, midnightstalkers101
"Edgar Allan Poe, is all a person has to say to show they are well cultured and a well-formed person, in my opinion. His outlook on the world is sometimes described as deep, dark, beautiful, and sophisticated. But the true description should be utterly or pure genius, his works see past most materialistic views and/or opinions. He has defied science and the human mind. Edgar Allan Poe, May he rest in peace. S.M"
29 Sep 2009 12:28pm, cloudstrifeps
"Let's not be emo about it people. The guys is dead, let's move on. Seriously, most of you haven't even met him and you act like your dad died... Edgar Allen Poe was one of the greatest poets in history, he was always depressed, and I'm sure he doesn't want the world depressed wherever he is right now. People take his death more seriously than his work, and I'm sure that wouldn't make him happy. Poe had a reason to be depressed. You people don't."
04 Nov 2009 4:26pm, logankruemcke
"He was creepy, and strange, his thoughts were sick and detestable. Art is not irritable, art is something of beauty and it takes emotion to make, whether you tap into your dark impulses to create distraught images of how you perceive life, or into the light where you see the greater good, never is irritability required. Poe was just unhappy and said what HE believed to be true. I myself have made wonderful drawings and writings, yet i draw from my own motivation, my life, the children i teach, the innermost workings of my OWN mind, the things i sense and see. i am always in a happy state of mind yet my work is never boring. i whole heartedly deny this statement by poe, dont fall into this belief that because his work was different that he knew what he was talking about he was just disturbed, which would be the emotions he drew from..."
23 Feb 2010 5:18pm, Jackie_halm
"I think it's true that poets, or, that is, artists in general have different emotions than most. but that doesn't mean that they show it, or have stronger ones. I feel we're just different in general. To openly describe my emotions would be like asking me to just off a building and fly to France, It's just not going to happen. But ask me to write down how I'm feeling can be done easily, that's not to say anyone may be able to understand the artist, but it does prove that their emotions are present. irritability, pain, and anger are an artists greatest tool, it delivers our quintessence, and shows our true personality. You can never truly know anyone until you've seen them angry."
26 Sep 2010 8:16am, amaleh94
"It is, in my opinion, a painful -and a personal- experience, arguing with the average member of the masses on this delicate matter. In this day, it is undeniable that the original and subtle meaning of the terms "art", "artist", and all the terms related, has been greatly distorted and misinterpreted; and so has the purpose of it (in which I fully agree with rob). It is a simple fact that "true artists" are far more sensitive, introverted, philosophical, and -forgive this expression- far more intelligent than the average. As such, they are, compared to the average, much more complicated and hence often even considered a threat in a certain way... And because of a different personality and way of thinking, they are misunderstood. What the mass doesn't understand, the mass does not appreciate, nor care about. Being above average, the artist is considered weird, arrogant, egoistic, or of the many other negative human characteristics, which the average member of the mass finds irritable."
26 Oct 2010 6:44pm, holly_wray_1234
"People with a perfect life have no imagination. Simple as that. Troubled people can think up lots of stories, which usually relate somewhat to their life."
04 Nov 2010 10:23am, afterdarkparanormalreseach
"I think as with most writers, or creative people..there is a yin/yang element to them. No shades of gray. Look at John Cusack. He is playing Poe in "The Raven", I think he is the perfect choice. You read that poem, and you can close your eyes and SEE him. He's passionate about things. I write (i'm my own worst critic & don't do anything with any of it because of that!), but I am passionate about whatever I get behind. Irritable???I suppose...sometimes. I think those who create, are in their own worlds, and when that world is "broken into" by outside influences it's like being startled, and drawn back into a world which you not only didn't create...but were trying to escape in the first place. Thats how I feel at least. Even watching a movie...or reading as book, I'm drawn into another world. One I'd rather be in, for whatever the reason's may be. But that's just my opinion!"
29 Nov 2010 5:44pm, anna1995_10
"Yes, true artist can be very irritable. Artists sometimes get caught up in the perfect act which is not good. Nobody is perfect. Artists can be irritable to an extent, but so can everyone else. Sometimes I believe artists get so caught up with time and frustration over one or maybe millions of paintings or pieces of work that they become irritable to the rest of the world. But when you really think about it, is that not just like every other human being in the world? In Poe's case that may be different. For some writing can be a pressure, but for Poe I believe writing was a way to get rid of some of his anger. The type of anger he might have fought being somewhere else. The anger that had been bundled up for years. Poe was a unusually different man which makes why he might have been irritable vary."
26 Aug 2013 7:08pm, wimberlyrasheida
"True artists are irritable. True artists are irritable by the amount of pressure that they receive. True artists gain pressure by people proclaiming how good their novels and literature should be and they have to live up to that standard. If they don't they will be ridiculed."
28 Feb 2014 1:51pm, dilarababacan2003
"Edgar Allan Poe is a great artist and his stories just make people think that something bad actually happened to him."
18 Apr 2014 7:22pm, ha
"A painter speaks through his or her pictures. A writer describes through their words. A musician emotes through their notes. What Poe says is what he feels: depressed, grumpy, hung-over. This connection and acceptance of what he feels is essential to the very making of art. The expression - the EXACT expression - of what the human heart can feel is never an easy task. This task is MUCH easier said than it is done. An artist can create a work that can express what they feel and how they feel it. A true artist has the ability to craft a masterpiece that can express what an emotion really is when it is overwhelming. This would make Poe, who could create the very image of fear (among other things) with his words, a true artist. Many have come before him, and many have come after him. I believe that there are true artists born all the time; they just have to realize it."
30 Jun 2014 1:20pm, imanibrown620
"No true artist aren't irritable. They are just true to their work and care a lot about it and the importance of it"
04 Sep 2014 4:16pm, zsgolfer72
"I think true artists are very irritable because all that they ever do is their art. They never get out to see the outside world, much like Poe."
06 Oct 2017 1:24pm, jacob.hulett
"I think they are."
18 Oct 2017 12:52pm, josieb105202
"I believe that all artists in any form should be passionate and wise in order to create a true form of art. whether that may be being irritable or content with the world all artist must have some sort of passion in order to express strong ideas."
22 Aug 2018 11:51am, aroberts8702
"This subject is debatable. True artists may have a tendency to be irritable, it comes with the concentration that is required for the art/writing to be truly masterful. But it really depends on the circumstances. Does the piece of writing/artwork require deep focus?"
29 Oct 2018 8:08pm, dperez129
"I agree. Art is made when you feel strongly about something. Art is driven by emotions. A lot of people don't understand that to make a great creation. You can make a good creation without emotions but its not going to be as good as the one with emotion."
08 Nov 2018 11:04am, fourmorganboys
"Yes, artists ate irritable. I don't know why, but they are. Maybe because of their extended periods of isolation writing poems or creating art."
03 Sep 2019 11:52am, 23jjpurdy
"Not all but I believe the successful ones are, because they are pressured or feel obligated to write something to make the readers happy, so instead the author writes what he wants which then he is left doubting himself."