A. C. Smith portrait showing a youngish-looking, placid Poe at work. Perhaps he is thinking of a secret. For most of his life, Poe did not wear that Dupin moustache. Try to picture that, and you may change your assumptions about the man.
I call this Young Poe, but the chronological age does not matter much. It is the attitude that counts.
Note that both artists take care to represent the kindness in Poe’s eyes, and the look of relaxation on his face.
Young Poe is not a haggard wastrel. He is an intellectual athlete who has determined to figure out Everything — the cosmos and how we know it (plus all the complications involved in determining what knowledge Is, or is knowledge Of).
This Poe smarts terribly from being turned away by academia and a vanished future of being paid for his intellect and not parlor tricks, is bright beyond measure, and can be very “secretive,” as viewed by the prying eyes of a scholar from the future. Of course, in his lived life, that is, within his own mind, he considers himself merely reserved, behaving as a gentleman should.
He will farm the universe of Intellect for every scrap of knowledge and every record of past and present attempts at “figuring it all out.” He will haunt bookstores and borrow volumes. Young Poe is very hungry, but not for food.