by Robert Giordano, created 23 Jun 2005 3:42am
The following paragraph is from The Imp of the Perverse...
"We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow, and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us, -- of the definite with the indefinite -- of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest have proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails, -- we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer -- note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies -- it disappears -- we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!"
I think this is just a great paragraph about procrastination. As an artist, I struggle with this every day. It took me a year to get started on this web site. One of the things I love about Poe is the way he explains basic human nature through the characters in his stories. He's not up there in the clouds, writing some esoteric crap. Although Poe had the intellect to argue with the best philosphers, he is right here on the ground with the rest of us. What I am trying to learn is how Poe, with such an imagination as he had, didn't succumb to procrastination himself. It almost makes me tired just thinking about the volume of works he produced, not to mention the vast array of material that he read.
Poe didn't watch television, and he didn't play video games. I wonder how he would have fared in today's society, with the overload of media that we are hit with each day.
Anyway, I'm gonna go play GTA... j/k
Newest comments at the bottom
04 Feb 2006 1:59pm, rudyrabbit200
"I am on this site when I should be writng grade reports. I play solitaire or Sudoku instead of reading the stacks of books I want to read or heaven forbid, work on any of the art projects that gather dust. Most of my photographs are in the "Under-the-Bed" gallery. My last show was in a coffeehouse six years ago... no work in a REAL gallery since 1981. At least, I see the result of your labor: a well-designed web site. I applaud you. I despair for myself."
04 Feb 2006 3:45pm, robert giordan
"Thanks for the compliment on the site. As I said above, It's always a struggle to force myself to sit down and do the things I HAVE to do when I would much rather be out wandering around, taking pictures. This site was finished because no one was paying me to do it and I didn't have a deadline. =)"
17 Mar 2006 6:19pm, kalyiel
"For me, this quote is odd, and I'll tell you why. My whole childhood and whole adolescence, until now I've been craving to write a novel. I have the idea and I have the characters. I have dozens of drafts of the first page, but no novel yet. And all this because I'm the greatest procrastinator you'll ever meet. I should be writing an essay for school right now, yet I'm submitting comments to this forum. That quote is odd to me because I've always thought that a great artist doesn't ever procrastinate. I always thought that's how they all wrote their novels and stories. And now I realize I was wrong all along and Poe himself was probably as much of a procrastinator as I am, or as we all are! Maybe procrastination is the key to success, after all. As we wait, we gain more experience, more style and more ideas. So maybe continuous work on a project isn't that useful, after all."
15 Jan 2007 6:47pm, frostbitecoolwolf
"I truly agree with this quote from Poe. I'm 14 so theres a lot of things I could use as excuses for my lack of work like walking the dog and homework, but after that it's just plain sitting there. I've written half of a mild chapter book, but always hold it off 'til to-morrow, as Poe puts it, but it's always a day away as Annie says. Well I guess I still have time. ^.-"
04 Mar 2007 9:42pm, jkarr
"Such a great site on Poe ... Procrastination may allow the subconscious human impulses to build to the breaking point, to erupt finally, all at once, in a frenzy of ideas and words."
05 Dec 2007 12:12am, jen_poet_
"Going to get it done,
gone off of my list,
but what kind of
accomplishment is THIS?
Gone for a day?
Stress for my deadlines,
tearing me away,
from what REALLY matters today,
blood, sweat, and tears,
ACTIVATE my fears!
Tell me, how does this help,
I cannot go on, call me lazy,
whatever, no masks I will don,
am I truly wrong,
for WANTING to devote my time,
to something healing ALL of us,
both yours and mine?
Both yours and mine?"
22 May 2008 1:12pm, kris5555555
"I found this site procrastinating instead of writing about my favorite author but still I love to constantly read his poems and stories. I never stop procrastinating so be it. my sorrow will never end but it doesn't kill me."
24 Jun 2008 8:41am, margoj
"It seems to me that what Poe is describing is fear, the terrible fear that artists have to overcome, to get anything done. Is it fear of self-revelation? Or fear of failing in the purpose, or fear of self-discovery and of finding the self lacking? (Poe writes of being misunderstood, doesn't he, of being thought mad? Madness is a great theme.) Whatever it is, I have it. Your site is extremely interesting - thank you. I'm about to start an MA course in Creative Writing and I think Edgar Allan is going to figure as compulsory reading. I may contact you again when I know more. Maybe I'll have to write some kind of paper on him."
24 Oct 2008 12:18pm, cherrylimeade420
"Yes. I agree with many posts on here. I am sitting in my English Class supposed to be starting my Powerpoint presentation on my favorite Poe story. What i am really doing is reading all these stories and poems on this website. I will get to my Powerpoint whenever i get home. This is not my lap top and i forgot my flashdrive anyway. Poe is great! peace."
04 Oct 2017 12:39pm, youdude2
"I wonder what story Edgar Allan Poe would write in the wake of recent political actions by President Trump."
15 Oct 2017 7:20pm, strongplace44
"I agree with what Poe is saying and that things need to get done when they are due."
24 Oct 2017 11:26pm, yulimaldonado2004
"procrastination is one thing that many people do and a lot of people do it because its really easy to do and to just leave off. when people procrastinate they don't realize that it is hurting them."
25 Oct 2017 11:24am, mainl29
"when i should be doing homework i play on my phone instead."
26 Oct 2017 5:37am, lrivera
"I procastinate pretty much every day of my life, whether it comes to homework or chores. It's nice to know that one of the greatest american writers wrote something about such a common problem."
29 Oct 2017 5:30pm, Cameron.Burdette
"This excerpt from "The Imp of the Preverse" exactly describes how I feel at every big school project. I don't know why I do this but it happens every time."
28 Oct 2018 8:34pm, rachel.goehner
"This quote by Poe hits at the root of so many events. When something isn't appealing, people will put it off and fill their time with other things, just as Poe was saying. He hits home in so many areas, and causes readers to realize that procrastination isn't something that they struggle with alone. In fact, Poe likely procrastinated his own work, giving him the insight for this quote. The only way to overcome procrastination is to counteract the desire to not do the action, with a stronger desire to get it done. It must be a constant choice, making the decision to work again with each new situation. Poe encourages that choice, but he offers comfort to his readers - even he struggled with this simple but powerful thought of procrastination."
02 Nov 2018 9:46am, roccowiththesockos
"Iagree with all these comments, I'm in Language Arts class right now and really don't want to continue this webquest I'm tired"
19 Nov 2018 5:39pm, wshultz78
"I can relate to what Poe said here, due to the fact that I procrastinate a lot of the time. But I think it is new for me to see a description of this simple mistake in detail, and it helps me really see what procrastination is."