"A Descent into the Maelstrom" is the most enthralling of that trio of tales of pseudo-science that demonstrate Poe's wizard power of sweeping the reader from the solid basis of human experience into an acceptance of fancies repugnant to all physical laws. In verisimilitude and compelling interest it excels both the MS. Found in a Bottle and Hans Pfaal, and displays its supernatural element in the products of the subtle faculty of exaggeration which Poe may have developed under the stimulus of opium. . . . . The commencement of the tale is abrupt and succinct, in accordance with Poe's dictum in 'Marginalia': 'It is far better that we commence irregularly—immethodically—than that we fail to arrest attention; but the two points, method and pungency, may always be combined.' At all risks, let there be a few vivid sentences imprimis, by way of the electric bell to the telegraph. The vividness of the old man's story is wonderfully enhanced by being told with the localities under review, and the wild welter of wind and water sustains the narrative like some great orchestral accompaniment. The final sentence, allowing for incredulity on the part of the reader, is an artistic touch, and fully worthy of Poe's ingenuity."
Looking about me upon the wide waste of liquid ebony on which we were thus borne, I perceived that our boat was not the only object in the embrace of the whirl. Both above and below us were visible fragments of vessels, large masses of building timber and trunks of trees, with many smaller articles, such as pieces of house furniture, broken boxes, barrels, and staves. I have already described the unnatural curiosity which had taken the place of my original terrors. It appeared to grow upon me as I drew nearer and nearer to my dreadful doom. I now began to watch, with a strange interest, the numerous things that floated in our company. I must have been delirious, for I even sought amusement in speculating upon the relative velocities of their several descents toward the foam below. "This fir-tree," I found myself at one time saying, "will certainly be the next thing that takes the awful plunge and disappears;" and then I was disappointed to find that the wreck of a Dutch merchant ship overtook it and went down before.