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."
02 Apr 2009 10:37am, dgamefreak
"I'm sitting in my schools library and looking at this website because i have a research paper on poe to do... I should be getting information about Poe... but your comments are just too interesting! woo go poe!1"
04 Nov 2009 12:59am, mr_niceguy69
"anyone wanna write a Poe research paper for me it would be fun :D"
09 Nov 2009 1:03pm, Viserna
"I like all the comments and the quote is really boring kind of but I understand the whole taking forever to make something. Freshman year i wanted by senior year to publish on book. I thought it be easy. wrong! Now i have a story line for a novel of mine called Archangel's View:Chris i may put it on my soon to be made facebook but it will only be the acknowledgements and yes i have spelling issues deal with it! I love you Poe my "Muse"."
18 Mar 2010 10:14am, leeam
"I have been a severe procrastinator for years but it has been horrible and stressful beyond belief, so i think that procrastinators should try to break this habit. Poe probably was not a procrastinator... just understanding of those who are. Poe understood a lot, which is why people say he was crazy. Peace and work :-)"
04 May 2010 2:22am, h3gamez
"hah, this is the perfect quote of basically all of time. im actually doing a report on poe this very second and im amazed at his work. this quote just puts it in your head that your not the only one that feels this way. its human to procrastinate and its human to accept the consequence of our actions... even if we dont want to. p.s it is 3am and i have to get up at 5 to turn this in."
19 Jun 2010 7:20am, sodfreak
"i'm not myself anymore and it's pathetic haha- no i don't cut myself, and no i'm not the stereotypical "emo"-i'm a metal head and fan of classic piano. i just changed so much and i hate it dude. my mother always told me i needed to talk more, but now that i do, i'm not me haha. outside i'm a happier person, but inside i like myself a lot less. i don't write or listen to my favorite of music anymore. i'm not as mentally ill as i used to be, but i LOVED my mental illness. i loved my sick and twisted writings. and for the past few months i haven't written ANYTHING worth keeping. i need to start writing more, and i need inspiration, but there's that damned procrastination that the social side brings. i just want to break the chain and isolate myself again. i just always seem to do something else haha. sorry for so much complaining"
14 Sep 2010 10:31am, travisgnapinski
"Poe is a great guy, you really have to meet him what am i saying i hate poe jk"
28 Sep 2010 8:54am, niccarlyle
"As the paragraph from Poe hints, there is a perverse internal logic to procrastination. A strange sense of putting off and keeping away from the subject will induce a greater creative urge tomorrow. It is a self-delusion of pressure somehow stoking the fires of creation to a white-heat. At the age of twenty, you can work like this; at thirty, it just induces shoddy compromises; and now I'm 46, it's an invitation to a heart attack. Alas, to create you need to craft is the dull conclusion of life."
08 Oct 2010 11:41am, miles53194
"this excerpt is actually very inspiring. it makes me think. if i get things out of the way, instead of saying "nah imma do it in 5 min" and wait and hour to get to it, i could conserve time and have fun doing other activities rather than homework late at night. for now on i think im going to use this excerpt as a motivator to keep myself on task!"
26 Oct 2010 12:54pm, luigivespuci
"I wonder, does procrastination have uses? I say yes. Life is short, sometimes scary "especially in Poe's stories" and avoiding your work, daydreaming away, is just good use of it. Why work on, get rich, if it all goes away when we die? Why not just live as we please? Maybe write a few stories ourselves, for the next generation of procrastinators. Maybe do something incredible to dwarf work? Because nobody wants to die with a burden. Something eating away at you as your family mourns. Maybe, you say to yourself, maybe if I had done my work, been paid, maybe if I did something, I would be up there, in the great big world. Then St. Peter looks down at us, and asks what we did with life, what will we say?"
26 Oct 2010 9:49pm, mwangisnjuguna
"I agree with this. I like to chill, text, and watch TV instead of doing my assignments. And most of the time I end up doing those things if I'm not in a working mood."
09 Nov 2010 11:03pm, Ambermjimenez
"Everyone procrastinates, either because of lack of interest or because we might be overwhelmed by something else. It's all a matter of priorities and setting them straight.. Honestly speaking even when you have your priorities straight you procrastinate what you know you have to do but really dont want to. Another word for procrastination is laziness in my opinion"
29 Nov 2010 8:44pm, Sledroc
"I've heard it said that procrastination builds to a climax at the late hours on April 14th each year. I'm struggling with my own bout of the affliction, although not of the tax variety... I like to write short stories and essays, and after attending a writing class at a local CC, I was encouraged that I might have a modicum of talent when the instructor read 3 or 4 of my papers in front of the class. I believe I was in my late 30s, a dinosaur compared to my peers... A few years later I decided I was going to write a novel. I had no idea what a great undertaking that was. If an essay was like cleaning a trout, a novel was Blue Marlin. My last chapter read, "Chapter 17" blank page... I have the complete tale in my head, more or less, now I need to slay the procrastination beast and get my characters out of the morgue and back to their motives... Wish me luck..."
02 Dec 2010 2:28am, 1swimmergirl2
"I was supposed to make a poster for a pep rally today. I started this morning and didn't finish. I had homework tonight and didn't start until 10. I'm just about to be done and it's about 1am. I'm such a procrastinator"
18 Apr 2013 10:42am, Digiwave
"Procrastination is a Fun thing"
04 Sep 2014 2:38pm, kalebcox11
"I always wait to do my work until the night before. I bring it home everyday to do it but i always think i have plenty of time. Then i forget about it. It makes it real hard to do good work."
06 Oct 2014 9:14am, jdattal
"I think it's pretty interesting that he got the tone of procrastinating so head on. He didn't just kinda use a basic example or wording of it. You really got to feel what he meant."
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."
07 Oct 2019 10:01am, Irmajew1
"Sadly, I procrastinate a lot."
20 May 2020 10:08am, janine.joy.watkins
"Wow! I found your site when a new friend who knows I love to spin words like an acrobat called me a POEt... that made me laugh re: Edgar Allan POE. I was led to your site as I didn't "know a POE" poem at all but fell in love with THE BELLS. All of a sudden, my voice was bursting forth in the late evening... I was reciting the poem as if said aloud on a stage in front of thousands. Ha! I shall never forget the moment and it ignited a sweet passion for pursuing and persevering! For all those struggling with lingering procrastination, ignite... revive... dive into your words and speak them out and up. Wake up your mind and soul and spirit and words and let them slip out of your fingers through the keys onto a screen or on the page - leave your linguistic fingerprint lingering behind. "The only thing between HERE and our destination... is that time-eating monster called PROCRASTINATION". Be encouraged this day to persevere and write and speak... Cheering you on as I do this myself. Blessings!"