Yet, when Poe became a staff editor of the highly-circulated Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia, he knew that Longfellow would impress his readers. So, he humbly solicited a contribution, well before his major attacks against the poet he later called "a dextrous adapter of the ideas of other people." In his letter, Poe wrote of the "fervent admiration" of Longfellow's genius and suggested that Longfellow was far too important to recognize a little-known critic like Poe. Longfellow's response was dated May 19, 1841:
You are mistaken in supposing that you are not 'favorably known to me.' On the contrary, all that I have read from your pen has inspired me with a high idea of your power; and I think you are destined to stand among the first romance-writers of the country, if such be your aim.
Longfellow never responded publicly to Poe's criticism, even after Poe's death; this is likely because he knew he really was an imitator. He often attributed his ideas or poetic formats to others, a typical practice in romantic poetry. Poe, on the other hand, strove for originality (though he occasionally lifted ideas too). Longfellow's words about Poe, his worst critic, were always kind. In fact, in 1875, he even suggested (apparently from memory!) an epitaph for Poe's planned memorial monument: "The fever called Living is conquered at last."
*The image of Longfellow above dates to 1840 and was painted by Cephas Giovanni Thompson. The original still hangs in his long-time home in Cambridge, Massachusetts (where he was living at the time this letter was written). The image is courtesy of the National Park Service.