Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English



First Advisor

Sydney White


Near the end of his life, in the summer of 1848, Edgar Allan Poe published what he chose to call a "prose poem," but which, in fact, was a lengthy and complex scientific essay, titled "Eureka". In that work he attempted to explain, both imaginatively and scientifically, the origin, nature, and destiny of man and his universe; a subject about which he had speculated for many years. The many fragments of Poe's total vision are recognizable throughout his poetry, essays, letters and tales. When viewed chronologically and thernatically, they appear to constitute an evolutionary process that resulted in an expression of his crystallized vision (his Cosmic Myth) in "Eureka".

It is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate, through an analysis of some of Poe's major works (beginning with "Tamerlane and Other Poems" in 1827 and ending with "Eureka" in 1848) that bis myth of the cosmos artistically evolved over that period of time and that the major concepts, presented as a complete theory in the 1848 essay, had been expressed as fragmentary thoughts in the themes of a great many of his earlier, more literary works. Throughout this discussion I have also drawn considerable information from numerous nineteenth and twentieth century Poe biographers and critics.

I believe that this paper has successfully demonstrated that the foundations of Poe's Cosmic Myth are recognizable in an embryonic form as early as 1827, in his first published work, "Tamerlane and Other Poems"; and that the evolution of his ultimate vision, expressed in "Eureka" in 1848, is traceable through the developing themes of his major works during that period.



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