The Complete Poems
of
Edgar Allan Poe

Illustrated and Decorated by W. Heath Robinson

With notes from Wikipedia

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Introduction to Poems, 1831.

Preface to The Raven and other poems, 1845.

The Poems:

  1. Poetry (1824)
  2. A Dream (1827)
  3. Dreams
  4. Evening Star (1827)
  5. Imitation (1827)
  6. Song (1827)
  7. Spirits of the Dead (1827)
  8. Stanzas (1827)
  9. Tamerlane (1827)
  10. The Happiest Day (1827)
  11. The Lake. To —(1827)
  12. To Margaret (1827)
  13. To Octavia (1827)
  14. To M——(1828)
  15. To the River ——(1828)
  16. Al Aaraaf (1829)
  17. Alone (1829)
  18. An Acrostic (1829)
  19. Elizabeth (1829)
  20. Fairy-Land (1829)
  21. Romance (1829)
  22. Sonnet — To Science (1829)
  23. To ——(1829)
  24. To ————(1829)
  25. To Isaac Lea (1829)
  26. A Pæan (1831)
  27. Israfel (1831)
  28. The City in the Sea (1831)
  29. The Sleeper (1831)
  30. The Valley of Unrest (1831)
  31. To Helen (1831)
  32. Enigma (1833)
  33. Fanny (1833)
  34. Serenade (1833)
  35. The Coliseum (1833)
  36. To ——(1833)
  37. To One in Paradise (1833)
  38. Hymn (1835)
  39. To F——s S. O——d (1835 / 1845)
  40. Spiritual Song (1836)
  41. Bridal Ballad (1837)
  42. Sonnet — To Zante (1837)
  43. Silence (1839)
  44. The Haunted Palace (1839)
  45. Eulalie (1843)
  46. Lenore (1843)
  47. The Conqueror Worm (1843)
  48. Lines on Joe Locke (1843)
  49. Dream-Land (1844)
  50. Epigram for Wall Street (1845)
  51. Impromptu. To Kate Carol (1845)
  52. The Divine Right of Kings (1845)
  53. The Raven (1845)
  54. To F——(1845)
  55. A Valentine (1846)
  56. Beloved Physician (1847)
  57. Deep in Earth (1847)
  58. To Marie Louise (1847)
  59. To Miss Louise Olivia Hunter (1847)
  60. To M. L. S——(1847)
  61. Ulalume (1847)
  62. An Enigma (1848)
  63. Eldorado (1848)
  64. Evangeline (1848)
  65. Lines on Ale (1848)
  66. The Bells (1848)
  67. To Helen (1848)
  68. A Dream Within a Dream (1849)
  69. Annabel Lee (1849)
  70. For Annie (1849)
  71. To My Mother (1849)

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About this Edition

This work is a completely new edition of Poe's poems. Unlike previous editions, the poems are presented in chronological order.

A short note, derived from Wikipedia, has been added to each poem.

Following the poems are three essays written by Poe on the subject of Poetry and composition.

This edition also incorporates the illustrations and ornaments by W. Heath Robinson from "The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe", published by George Bell in 1900. This is not, however, intended as a facsimile of that edition. This is a completely new edition.

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p171
p173

West Point, —— 1831.

DEAR B——.

Believing only a portion of my former volume to be worthy a second edition — that small portion I thought it as well to include in the present book as to republish by itself. I have, therefore, herein combined Al Aaraaf and Tamerlane with other Poems hitherto unprinted. Nor have I hesitated to insert from the "Minor Poems," now omitted, whole lines, and even passages, to the end that being placed in a fairer light, and the trash shaken from them in which they were imbedded, they may have some chance of being seen by posterity.

It has been said, that a good critique on a poem may be written by one who is no poet himself. This, according to your idea and mine of poetry, I feel to be false — the less poetical the critic, the less just the critique, and the converse. On this account, and because there are but few B——s in the world, I would be as much ashamed of the world's good opinion as proud of your own. Another than yourself might here observe "Shakspeare is in possession of the world's good opinion, and yet Shakspeare is the greatest of poets. It appears then that the world judge correctly, why should you be ashamed of their favorable judgment?" The difficulty lies in the interpretation of the word "judgment" or "opinion." The opinion is the world's, truly, but it may be called theirs as a man would call a book his, having bought it; he did not write the book, but it is his; they did not originate the opinion, but it is theirs. A fool, for example, thinks Shakspeare a great poet — yet the fool has never read Shakspeare. But the fool's neighbor, who is a step higher on the Andes of the mind, whose head (that is to say his more exalted thought) is too far above the fool to be seen or understood, but whose feet (by which I mean his every day actions) are sufficiently near to be discerned, and by means of which that superiority is ascertained, which but for them would never have been discovered — this neighbor asserts that Shakspeare is a great poet — the fool believes him, and it is henceforward his opinion. This neighbor's own opinion has, in like manner, been adopted from one above him, and so, ascendingly, to a few gifted individuals, who kneel around the summit, beholding, face to face, the master spirit who stands upon the pinnacle.

You are aware of the great barrier in the path of an American writer. He is read, if at all, in preference to the combined and established wit of the world. I say established; for it is with literature as with law or empire — an established name is an estate in tenure, or a throne in possession. Besides, one might suppose that books, like their authors, improve by travel — their having crossed the sea is, with us, so great a distinction. Our antiquaries abandon time for distance; our very fops glance from the binding to the bottom of the title-page, where the mystic characters which spell London, Paris, or Genoa, are precisely so many letters of recommendation.

I mentioned just now a vulgar error as regards criticism. I think the notion that no poet can form a correct estimate of his own writings is another. I remarked before, that in proportion to the poetical talent, would be the justice of a critique upon poetry. Therefore, a bad poet would, I grant, make a false critique, and his self-love would infallibly bias his little judgment in his favor; but a poet, who is indeed a poet, could not, I think, fail of making a just critique. Whatever should be deducted on the score of self-love, might be replaced on account of his intimate acquaintance with the subject; in short, we have more instances of false criticism than of just, where one's own writings are the test, simply because we have more bad poets than good. There are of course many objections to what I say: Milton is a great example of the contrary; but his opinion with respect to the Paradise Regained, is by no means fairly ascertained. By what trivial circumstances men are often led to assert what they do not really believe! Perhaps an inadvertent word has descended to posterity. But, in fact, the Paradise Regained is little, if at all, inferior to the Paradise Lost, and is only supposed so to be, because men do not like epics, whatever they may say to the contrary, and reading those of Milton in their natural order, are too much wearied with the first to derive any pleasure from the second.

I dare say Milton preferred Comus to either — if so — justly.

As I am speaking of poetry, it will not be amiss to touch slightly upon the most singular heresy in its modern history — the heresy of what is called very foolishly, the Lake School. Some years ago I might have been induced, by an occasion like the present, to attempt a formal refutation of their doctrine; at present it would be a work of supererogation. The wise must bow to the wisdom of such men as Coleridge and Southey, but being wise, have laughed at poetical theories so prosaically exemplified.

Aristotle, with singular assurance, has declared poetry the most philosophical of all writing† — but it required a Wordsworth to pronounce it the most metaphysical. He seems to think that the end of poetry is, or should be, instruction — yet it is a truism that the end of our existence is happiness; if so, the end of every separate part of our existence — every thing connected with our existence should be still happiness. Therefore the end of instruction should be happiness; and happiness is another name for pleasure; — therefore the end of instruction should be pleasure: yet we see the above mentioned opinion implies precisely the reverse.

Σπουδιοτατον και φιλοσοφικοτατον γενος.

To proceed: ceteris paribus, he who pleases, is of more importance to his fellow men than he who instructs, since utility is happiness, and pleasure is the end already obtained which instruction is merely the means of obtaining.

I see no reason, then, why our metaphysical poets should plume themselves so much on the utility of their works, unless indeed they refer to instruction with eternity in view; in which case, sincere respect for their piety would not allow me to express my contempt for their judgment; contempt which it would be difficult to conceal, since their writings are professedly to be understood by the few, and it is the many who stand in need of salvation. In such case I should no doubt be tempted to think of the devil in Melmoth, who labors indefatigably through three octavo volumes, to accomplish the destruction of one or two souls, while any common devil would have demolished one or two thousand.

Against the subtleties which would make poetry a study — not a passion — it becomes the metaphysician to reason — but the poet to protest. Yet Wordsworth and Coleridge are men in years; the one imbued in contemplation from his childhood, the other a giant in intellect and learning. The diffidence, then, with which I venture to dispute their authority, would be over-whelming, did I not feel, from the bottom of my heart, that learning has little to do with the imagination — intellect with the passions — or age with poetry.

"Trifles, like straws, upon the surface flow,

He who would search for pearls must dive below,"

are lines which have done much mischief. As regards the greater truths, men oftener err by seeking them at the bottom than at the top; the depth lies in the huge abysses where wisdom is sought — not in the palpable palaces where she is found. The ancients were not always right in hiding the goddess in a well: witness the light which Bacon has thrown upon philosophy; witness the principles of our divine faith — that moral mechanism by which the simplicity of a child may overbalance the wisdom of a man.

Poetry, above all things, is a beautiful painting whose tints, to minute inspection, are confusion worse confounded, but start boldly out to the cursory glance of the connoisseur.

We see an instance of Coleridge's liability to err, in his Biographia Literaria — professedly his literary life and opinions, but, in fact, a treatise de omni scibili et quibusdam aliis. He goes wrong by reason of his very profundity, and of his error we have a natural type in the contemplation of a star. He who regards it directly and intensely sees, it is true, the star, but it is the star without a ray — while he who surveys it less inquisitively is conscious of all for which the star is useful to us below — its brilliancy and its beauty.

As to Wordsworth, I have no faith in him. That he had, in youth, the feelings of a poet I believe — for there are glimpses of extreme delicacy in his writings — (and delicacy is the poet's own kingdom — his El Dorado) — but they have the appearance of a better day recollected; and glimpses, at best, are little evidence of present poetic fire — we know that a few straggling flowers spring up daily in the crevices of the Avalanche.

He was to blame in wearing away his youth in contemplation with the end of poetizing in his manhood. With the increase of his judgment the light which should make it apparent has faded away. His judgment consequently is too correct. This may not be understood, but the old Goths of Germany would have understood it, who used to debate matters of importance to their State twice, once when drunk, and once when sober — sober that they might not be deficient in formality — drunk lest they should be destitute of vigor.

The long wordy discussions by which he tries to reason us into admiration of his poetry, speak very little in his favor: they are full of such assertions as this — (I have opened one of his volumes at random) "Of genius the only proof is the act of doing well what is worthy to be done, and what was never done before" — indeed! then it follows that in doing what is unworthy to be done, or what has been done before, no genius can be evinced: yet the picking of pockets is an unworthy act, pockets have been picked time immemorial, and Barrington, the pick-pocket, in point of genius, would have thought hard of a comparison with William Wordsworth, the poet.

Again — in estimating the merit of certain poems, whether they be Ossian's or M'Pherson's, can surely be of little consequence, yet, in order to prove their worthlessness, Mr. W. has expended many pages in the controversy. Tantæne animis? Can great minds descend to such absurdity? But worse still: that he may bear down every argument in favor of these poems, he triumphantly drags forward a passage, in his abomination of which he expects the reader to sympathize. It is the beginning of the epic poem "Temora." "The blue waves of Ullin roll in light; the green hills are covered with day; trees shake their dusky heads in the breeze." And this — this gorgeous, yet simple imagery — where all is alive and panting with immortality — than which earth has nothing more grand, nor paradise more beautiful — this — William Wordsworth, the author of Peter Bell, has selected to dignify with his imperial contempt. We shall see what better he, in his own person, has to offer. Imprimis:

"And now she's at the poney's head,

And now she's at the poney's tail,

On that side now, and now on this,

And almost stifled her with bliss —

A few sad tears does Betty shed,

She pats the poney where or when

She knows not: happy Betty Foy!

O Johnny! never mind the Doctor!"

Secondly:

"The dew was falling fast, the — stars began to blink,

I heard a voice, it said —— drink, pretty creature, drink;

And looking o'er the hedge, be — fore me I espied

A snow-white mountain lamb with a — maiden at its side,

No other sheep were near, the lamb was all alone,

And by a slender cord was — tether 'd to a stone."

Now we have no doubt this is all true; we will believe it, indeed we will, Mr. W. Is it sympathy for the sheep you wish to excite? I love a sheep from the bottom of my heart.

But there are occasions, dear B— — there are occasions when even Wordsworth is reasonable. Even Stamboul, it is said, shall have an end, and the most unlucky blunders must come to a conclusion. Here is an extract from his preface.

"Those who have been accustomed to the phraseology of modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to a conclusion (impossible!) will, no doubt, have to struggle with feelings of awkwardness; (ha! ha! ha!) they will look round for poetry (ha! ha! ha! ha!) and will be induced to inquire by what species of courtesy these attempts have been permitted to assume that title." Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

Yet let not Mr. W. despair; he has given immortality to a wagon, and the bee Sophocles has eternalized a sore toe, and dignified a tragedy with a chorus of turkeys.

Of Coleridge I cannot speak but with reverence. His towering intellect! his gigantic power! To use an author quoted by himself, "Jai trouve souvent que la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une bonne partie de ce quelles avancent, mais non pas en ce quelles nient," and, to employ his own language, he has imprisioned his own conceptions by the barrier he has erected against those of others. It is lamentable to think that such a mind should be buried in metaphysics, and, like the Nyctanthes, waste its perfume upon the night alone. In reading that man's poetry I tremble, like one who stands upon a volcano, conscious, from the very darkness bursting from the crater, of the fire and the light that are weltering below.

What is Poetry? — Poetry! that Proteus-like idea, with as many appellations as the nine-titled Corcyra! Give me, I demanded of a scholar some time ago, give me a definition of poetry? "Tres volontiers," — and he proceeded to his library, brought me a Dr. Johnson, and overwhelmed me with a definition. Shade of the immortal Shakspeare! I imagined to myself the scowl of your spiritual eye upon the profanity of that scurrilous Ursa Major. Think of poetry, dear B— — think of poetry, and then think of — Dr. Samuel Johnson! Think of all that is airy and fairy-like, and then of all that is hideous and unwieldy; think of his huge bulk, the Elephant! and then — and then think of the Tempest — the Midsummer Night's Dream — Prospero — Oberon — and Titania!

A poem, in my opinion, is opposed to a work of science by having, for its immediate object, pleasure, not truth; to romance, by having for its object an indefinite instead of a definite pleasure, being a poem only so far as this object is attained; romance presenting perceptible images with definite, poetry with indefinite sensations, to which end music is an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception. Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry; music without the idea is simply music; the idea without the music is prose from its very definitiveness.

What was meant by the invective against him who had no music in his soul?

To sum up this long rigmarole, I have, dear B— — what you no doubt perceive, for the metaphysical poets, as poets, the most sovereign contempt. That they have followers proves nothing —

No Indian prince has to his palace

More followers than a thief to the gallows.

B—— is presumed to be Elam Bliss, the publisher of the Poems (1831).

p181

decorated title

Poe’s Preface to “The Raven and Other Poems”

These trifles are collected and republished chiefly with a view to their redemption from the many improvements to which they have been subjected while “going the rounds of the press.” I am naturally anxious that if what I have written is to circulate at all, it should circulate as I wrote it. In defence of my own taste, nevertheless, it is incumbent on me to say that I think nothing in this volume of much value to the public, or very creditable to myself. Events not to be controlled have prevented me from making, at any time, any serious effort in what, under happier circumstances would have been the field of my choice. With me poetry has not been a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence; they must not — they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind

E. A. P.

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Poems

decorated title

Poetry (1824)

This poem, most likely incomplete, was never printed in Poe’s lifetime. Its two lines were found written on a page of some of John Allan’s financial records. This is the earliest surviving manuscript in Poe’s own hand.

Last night, with many cares and toils oppress’d
Weary, I laid me on a couch to rest —

A Dream

“A Dream” is a lyric poem that first appeared without a title in Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827. The narrator’s “dream of joy departed” causes him to confuse the difference between dream and reality. Its title was attached when it was published in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems in 1829.

In visions of the dark night

I have dreamed of joy departed —

But a waking dream of life and light

Hath left me broken-hearted.

Ah! what is not a dream by day

To him whose eyes are cast

On things around him with a ray

Turned back upon the past?

That holy dream — that holy dream,

While all the world were chiding,

Hath cheered me as a lovely beam

A lonely spirit guiding.

What though that light, thro’ storm and night,

So trembled from afar —

What could there be more purely bright

In Truth’s day-star?

Dreams

Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!

My spirit not awakening, till the beam

Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.

Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,

’Twere better than the cold reality

Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,

And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,

A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.

But should it be — that dream eternally

Continuing — as dreams have been to me

In my young boyhood — should it thus be given,

’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.

For I have revell’d, when the sun was bright

I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light

And loveliness — have left my very heart

In climes of my imagining, apart

From mine own home, with beings that have been

Of mine own thought — what more could I have seen?

’Twas once — and only once — and the wild hour

From my remembrance shall not pass — some power

Or spell had bound me —’twas the chilly wind

Came o’er me in the night, and left behind

Its image on my spirit — or the moon

Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon

Too coldly — or the stars — howe’er it was

That dream was as that night-wind — let it pass.

I have been happy, tho’ in a dream.

I have been happy — and I love the theme:

Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life,

As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife

Of semblance with reality, which brings

To the delirious eye, more lovely things

Of Paradise and Love — and all our own!

Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

Evening Star

Evening Star (1827)

This lyric poem by Poe was first collected in Tamerlane and Other Poems early in Poe’s career in 1827. In the poem, a stargazer thinks all the stars he sees look cold, except for one “Proud Evening Star” which looks warm with a “distant fire” the other stars lack. The poem was influenced by Thomas Moore’s poem “While Gazing on the Moon’s Light”.

The poem was not included in Poe’s second poetry collection, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, and was never re-printed during his lifetime.

“Evening Star” was adapted by choral composer Jonathan Adams into his Three Songs from Edgar Allan Poe in 1993.

’Twas noontide of summer,

And mid-time of night;

And stars, in their orbits,

Shone pale, thro’ the light

Of the brighter, cold moon,

‘Mid planets her slaves,

Herself in the Heavens,

Her beam on the waves.

I gazed awhile

On her cold smile;

Too cold — too cold for me —

There pass’d, as a shroud,

A fleecy cloud,

And I turned away to thee,

Proud Evening Star,

In thy glory afar,

And dearer thy beam shall be;

For joy to my heart

Is the proud part

Thou bearest in Heaven at night,

And more I admire

Thy distant fire,

Than that colder, lowly light.

Imitation (1827)

The poem “Imitation” was first published in Poe’s early collection Tamerlane and Other Poems. The 20-line poem is made up of rhymed couplets where the speaker likens his youth to a dream as his reality becomes more and more difficult. It has been considered potentially autobiographical, written during deepening strains in Poe’s relationship with his foster-father John Allan.

After several revisions, this poem evolved into the poem “A Dream Within A Dream.”

A dark unfathomed tide

Of interminable pride —

A mystery, and a dream,

Should my early life seem;

I say that dream was fraught

With a wild and waking thought

Of beings that have been,

Which my spirit hath not seen,

Had I let them pass me by,

With a dreaming eye!

Let none of earth inherit

That vision of my spirit;

Those thoughts I would control,

As a spell upon his soul:

For that bright hope at last

And that light time have past,

And my worldly rest hath gone

With a sigh as it passed on:

I care not though it perish

With a thought I then did cherish.

p112

Song (1827)

“Song” is a ballad-style poem, which was first published in Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827, the speaker tells of a former love he saw from afar on her wedding day. A blush on her cheek, despite all the happiness around her, displays a hidden shame for having lost the speaker’s love.

It is believed to reference Poe’s lost teenage love Sarah Elmira Royster, who broke off her engagement with Poe presumably due to her father. She instead married the wealthy Alexander Shelton. If this is the case, Poe was taking poetic license: he was not in Richmond at the time of her wedding.

I saw thee on thy bridal day —

When a burning blush came o’er thee,

Though happiness around thee lay,

The world all love before thee:

And in thine eye a kindling light

(Whatever it might be)

Was all on Earth my aching sight

Of Loveliness could see.

That blush, perhaps, was maiden shame —

As such it well may pass —

Though its glow hath raised a fiercer flame

In the breast of him, alas!

Who saw thee on that bridal day,

When that deep blush would come o’er thee,

Though happiness around thee lay;

The world all love before thee.

p112a

Evening Star

p095

Spirits of the Dead (1827)

Original manuscript of a revision of “Spirits of the Dead” in Poe’s handwriting.

“Spirits of the Dead” was first titled “Visits of the Dead” when it was published in the 1827 collection Tamerlane and Other Poems. The title was changed for the 1829 collection Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. The poem follows a dialogue between a dead speaker and a person visiting his grave. The spirit tells the person that those who one knows in life surround a person in death as well.

Thy soul shall find itself alone

‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;

Not one, of all the crowd, to pry

Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,

Which is not loneliness — for then

The spirits of the dead, who stood

In life before thee, are again

In death around thee, and their will

Shall overshadow thee; be still.

The night, though clear, shall frown,

And the stars shall not look down

From their high thrones in the Heaven

With light like hope to mortals given,

But their red orbs, without beam,

To thy weariness shall seem

As a burning and a fever

Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,

Now are visions ne’er to vanish;

From thy spirit shall they pass

No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,

And the mist upon the hill

Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,

Is a symbol and a token.

How it hangs upon the trees,

A mystery of mysteries!

Stanzas

Stanzas (1827)

The title “Stanzas” was assigned to this untitled poem originally printed in Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827. Another poem with the title “Stanzas” was published in the Graham’s Magazine in December of 1845 and signed “P.” It was attributed to Poe based on a copy owned by Frances Osgood, on which she had pencilled notes.

How often we forget all time, when lone

Admiring Nature’s universal throne;

Her woods — her wilds — her mountains — the intense

Reply of hers to our intelligence!

— BYRON, The Island.

I

In youth have I known one with whom the Earth

In secret communing held — as he with it,

In daylight, and in beauty from his birth:

Whose fervid, flickering torch of life was lit

From the sun and stars, whence he had drawn forth

A passionate light — such for his spirit was fit —

And yet that spirit knew not, in the hour

Of its own fervor what had o’er it power.

II

Perhaps it may be that my mind is wrought

To a fever by the moonbeam that hangs o’er,

But I will half believe that wild light fraught

With more of sovereignty than ancient lore

Hath ever told — or is it of a thought

The unembodied essence, and no more,

That with a quickening spell doth o’er us pass

As dew of the night-time o’er the summer grass?

III

Doth o’er us pass, when, as th’ expanding eye

To the loved object — so the tear to the lid

Will start, which lately slept in apathy?

And yet it need not be —(that object) hid

From us in life — but common — which doth lie

Each hour before us — but then only, bid

With a strange sound, as of a harp-string broken,

To awake us —’Tis a symbol and a token

IV

Of what in other worlds shall be — and given

In beauty by our God, to those alone

Who otherwise would fall from life and Heaven

Drawn by their heart’s passion, and that tone,

That high tone of the spirit which hath striven,

Tho’ not with Faith — with godliness — whose throne

With desperate energy ‘t hath beaten down;

Wearing its own deep feeling as a crown.

Tamerlane

(1827)

Kind solace in a dying hour!

Such, father, is not (now) my theme —

I will not madly deem that power

Of Earth may shrive me of the sin

Unearthly pride hath revell’d in-

I have no time to dote or dream:

You call it hope — that fire of fire!

It is but agony of desire:

If I can hope — Oh God! I can —

Its fount is holier — more divine —

I would not call thee fool, old man,

But such is not a gift of thine.

Know thou the secret of a spirit

Bow’d from its wild pride into shame.

O yearning heart! I did inherit

Thy withering portion with the fame,

The searing glory which hath shone

Amid the jewels of my throne,

Halo of Hell! and with a pain

Not Hell shall make me fear again —

O craving heart, for the lost flowers

And sunshine of my summer hours!

The undying voice of that dead time,

With its interminable chime,

Rings, in the spirit of a spell,

Upon thy emptiness — a knell.

I have not always been as now:

The fever’d diadem on my brow

I claim’d and won usurpingly —

Hath not the same fierce heirdom given

Rome to the Caesar — this to me?

The heritage of a kingly mind,

And a proud spirit which hath striven

Triumphantly with human kind.

On mountain soil I first drew life:

The mists of the Taglay have shed

Nightly their dews upon my head,

And, I believe, the winged strife

And tumult of the headlong air

Have nestled in my very hair.

So late from Heaven — that dew — it fell

(Mid dreams of an unholy night)

Upon me with the touch of Hell,

While the red flashing of the light

From clouds that hung, like banners, o’er,

Appeared to my half-closing eye

The pageantry of monarchy,

And the deep trumpet-thunder’s roar

Came hurriedly upon me, telling

Of human battle, where my voice,

My own voice, silly child! — was swelling

(O! how my spirit would rejoice,

And leap within me at the cry)

The battle-cry of Victory!

The rain came down upon my head

Unshelter’d — and the heavy wind

Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.

It was but man, I thought, who shed

Laurels upon me: and the rush —

The torrent of the chilly air

Gurgled within my ear the crush

Of empires — with the captive’s prayer —

The hum of suitors — and the tone

Of flattery ‘round a sovereign’s throne.

My passions, from that hapless hour,

Usurp’d a tyranny which men

Have deem’d, since I have reach’d to power,

My innate nature — be it so:

But father, there liv’d one who, then,

Then — in my boyhood — when their fire

Burn’d with a still intenser glow,

(For passion must, with youth, expire)

E’en then who knew this iron heart

In woman’s weakness had a part.

I have no words — alas! — to tell

The loveliness of loving well!

Nor would I now attempt to trace

The more than beauty of a face

Whose lineaments, upon my mind,

Are — shadows on th’ unstable wind:

Thus I remember having dwelt

Some page of early lore upon,

With loitering eye, till I have felt

The letters — with their meaning — melt

To fantasies — with none.

O, she was worthy of all love!

Love — as in infancy was mine —

’Twas such as angel minds above

Might envy; her young heart the shrine

On which my every hope and thought

Were incense — then a goodly gift,

For they were childish and upright —

Pure — as her young example taught:

Why did I leave it, and, adrift,

Trust to the fire within, for light?

We grew in age — and love — together,

Roaming the forest, and the wild;

My breast her shield in wintry weather —

And when the friendly sunshine smil’d,

And she would mark the opening skies,

I saw no Heaven — but in her eyes.

Young Love’s first lesson is — the heart:

For ‘mid that sunshine, and those smiles,

When, from our little cares apart,

And laughing at her girlish wiles,

I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,

And pour my spirit out in tears —

There was no need to speak the rest —

No need to quiet any fears

Of her — who ask’d no reason why,

But turn’d on me her quiet eye!

Yet more than worthy of the love

My spirit struggled with, and strove,

When, on the mountain peak, alone,

Ambition lent it a new tone —

I had no being — but in thee:

The world, and all it did contain

In the earth — the air — the sea —

Its joy — its little lot of pain

That was new pleasure — the ideal,

Dim vanities of dreams by night —

And dimmer nothings which were real —

(Shadows — and a more shadowy light!)

Parted upon their misty wings,

And, so, confusedly, became

Thine image, and — a name — a name!

Two separate — yet most intimate things.

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I was ambitious — have you known

The passion, father? You have not:

A cottager, I mark’d a throne

Of half the world as all my own,

And murmur’d at such lowly lot —

But, just like any other dream,

Upon the vapour of the dew

My own had past, did not the beam

Of beauty which did while it thro’

The minute — the hour — the day — oppress

My mind with double loveliness.

We walk’d together on the crown

Of a high mountain which look’d down

Afar from its proud natural towers

Of rock and forest, on the hills —

The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers,

And shouting with a thousand rills.

I spoke to her of power and pride,

But mystically — in such guise

That she might deem it nought beside

The moment’s converse; in her eyes

I read, perhaps too carelessly —

A mingled feeling with my own —

The flush on her bright cheek, to me

Seem’d to become a queenly throne

Too well that I should let it be

Light in the wilderness alone.

I wrapp’d myself in grandeur then,

And donn’d a visionary crown —

Yet it was not that Fantasy

Had thrown her mantle over me —

But that, among the rabble — men,

Lion ambition is chained down —

And crouches to a keeper’s hand —

Not so in deserts where the grand —

The wild — the terrible conspire

With their own breath to fan his fire.

Look ‘round thee now on Samarcand!

Is not she queen of Earth? her pride

Above all cities? in her hand

Their destinies? in all beside

Of glory which the world hath known

Stands she not nobly and alone?

Falling — her veriest stepping-stone

Shall form the pedestal of a throne —

And who her sovereign? Timour — he

Whom the astonished people saw

Striding o’er empires haughtily

A diadem’d outlaw!

O, human love! thou spirit given

On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!

Which fall’st into the soul like rain

Upon the Siroc-wither’d plain,

And, failing in thy power to bless,

But leav’st the heart a wilderness!

Idea! which bindest life around

With music of so strange a sound,

And beauty of so wild a birth —

Farewell! for I have won the Earth.

When Hope, the eagle that tower’d, could see

No cliff beyond him in the sky,

His pinions were bent droopingly —

And homeward turn’d his soften’d eye.

’Twas sunset: when the sun will part

There comes a sullenness of heart

To him who still would look upon

The glory of the summer sun.

That soul will hate the ev’ning mist,

So often lovely, and will list

To the sound of the coming darkness (known

To those whose spirits hearken) as one

Who, in a dream of night, would fly

But cannot from a danger nigh.

What tho’ the moon — the white moon

Shed all the splendour of her noon,

Her smile is chilly, and her beam,

In that time of dreariness, will seem

(So like you gather in your breath)

A portrait taken after death.

And boyhood is a summer sun

Whose waning is the dreariest one —

For all we live to know is known,

And all we seek to keep hath flown —

Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall

With the noon-day beauty — which is all.

I reach’d my home — my home no more

For all had flown who made it so.

I pass’d from out its mossy door,

And, tho’ my tread was soft and low,

A voice came from the threshold stone

Of one whom I had earlier known —

O, I defy thee, Hell, to show

On beds of fire that burn below,

A humbler heart — a deeper woe.

Father, I firmly do believe —

I know — for Death, who comes for me

From regions of the blest afar,

Where there is nothing to deceive,

Hath left his iron gate ajar,

And rays of truth you cannot see

Are flashing thro’ Eternity —

I do believe that Eblis hath

A snare in every human path —

Else how, when in the holy grove

I wandered of the idol, Love,

Who daily scents his snowy wings

With incense of burnt offerings

From the most unpolluted things,

Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven

Above with trellis’d rays from Heaven,

No mote may shun — no tiniest fly —

The lightning of his eagle eye —

How was it that Ambition crept,

Unseen, amid the revels there,

Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt

In the tangles of Love’s very hair?

Timour

The Happiest Day

The Happiest Day (1827)

“The Happiest Day” or, “The Happiest Day, the Happiest Hour” is a six quatrain poem . It was first published as part of in Poe’s first collection Tamerlane and Other Poems. Poe may have written it while serving in the army. The poem discusses a self-pitying loss of youth, though it was written when Poe was about 19.

A nearly identical poem called “Original” written by Poe’s brother William Henry Leonard Poe was first published in the September 15, 1827 issue of the North American. It is believed Poe wrote the poem and sent it to his brother, who then sent it to the magazine. T. O Mabbott felt that the rather tepid value of this slightly edited version of the poem suggests that they were made by William Henry, though perhaps with Edgar’s approval.

The happiest day — the happiest hour

My sear’d and blighted heart hath known,

The highest hope of pride and power,

I feel hath flown.

Of power! said I? yes! such I ween;

But they have vanish’d long, alas!

The visions of my youth have been —

But let them pass.

And, pride, what have I now with thee?

Another brow may even inherit

The venom thou hast pour’d on me

Be still, my spirit!

The happiest day — the happiest hour

Mine eyes shall see — have ever seen,

The brightest glance of pride and power,

I feel — have been:

But were that hope of pride and power

Now offer’d with the pain

Even then I felt — that brightest hour

I would not live again:

For on its wing was dark alloy,

And, as it flutter’d — fell

An essence — powerful to destroy

A soul that knew it well.

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The Lake. To —(1827)

First appearing simply as “The Lake” in Poe’s 1827 collection Tamerlane and Other Poems, the amended title appeared in 1829 collected in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. The poem is a celebration of loneliness and the thoughts inspired by a lake.

For the 1845 collection The Raven and Other Poems, Poe reworked the first line (“In youth’s spring, it was my lot”) to “In spring of youth it was my lot.”

In spring of youth it was my lot

To haunt of the wide world a spot

The which I could not love the less —

So lovely was the loneliness

Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,

And the tall pines that towered around.

But when the Night had thrown her pall

Upon that spot, as upon all,

And the mystic wind went by

Murmuring in melody —

Then — ah then I would awake

To the terror of the lone lake.

Yet that terror was not fright,

But a tremulous delight —

A feeling not the jewelled mine

Could teach or bribe me to define —

Nor Love — although the Love were thine.

Death was in that poisonous wave,

And in its gulf a fitting grave

For him who thence could solace bring

To his lone imagining —

Whose solitary soul could make

An Eden of that dim lake.

To Margaret (1827)

“To Margaret” may be an unfinished poem, never published in Poe’s lifetime. In the original manuscript, dated 1827, Poe cites the references to other, mostly classical works, from each of his lines. The seven-line poem, according to Poe’s notes, refers to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, William Shakespeare, and Alexander Pope.

Who hath seduced thee to this foul revolt

From the pure well of Beauty undefiled?

So banish from true wisdom to prefer

Such squalid wit to honourable rhyme?

To write? To scribble? Nonsense and no more?

I will not write upon this argument

To write is human — not to write divine.

Line 1 Milton Par. Lost Bk. I

3, 4 Cowper’s Task, Book I

5 Shakespeare 6 do. Trolius & Cressida 7 Pope Essay on Man

To Octavia (1827)

An unpublished, untitled manuscript, a date at the bottom of the original copy (“May the 1st, 1827”) appears to have been written by someone other than Poe. The date is questionable for this reason. The poem, which may be incomplete, tells of the speaker’s unrequited love for Octavia being so strong, even “wit, and wine, and friends” can not distract him from it. Every throb of his heart, the narrator says, threatens to make his heart break for Octavia.

When wit, and wine, and friends have met

And laughter crowns the festive hour

In vain I struggle to forget

Still does my heart confess thy power

And fondly turn to thee!

But Octavia, do not strive to rob

My heart of all that soothes its pain

The mournful hope that every throb

Will make it break for thee!

To M——(1828)

Poe toyed with the working title “Alone” before this poem was printed as “To M——” in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. Poe would use the title “Alone” in 1829.

O! I care not that my earthly lot

Hath little of Earth in it,

That years of love have been forgot

In the fever of a minute:

I heed not that the desolate

Are happier, sweet, than I,

But that you meddle with my fate

Who am a passer by.

It is not that my founts of bliss

Are gushing — strange! with tears —

Or that the thrill of a single kiss

Hath palsied many years —

’Tis not that the flowers of twenty springs

Which have wither’d as they rose

Lie dead on my heart-strings

With the weight of an age of snows.

Not that the grass — O! may it thrive!

On my grave is growing or grown —

But that, while I am dead yet alive

I cannot be, lady, alone.

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To the River ——(1828)

First published in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, it was also included in the 1845 collection The Raven and Other Poems.

Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow

Of crystal, wandering water,

Thou art an emblem of the glow

Of beauty — the unhidden heart —

The playful maziness of art

In old Alberto’s daughter;

But when within thy wave she looks —

Which glistens then, and trembles —

Why, then, the prettiest of brooks

Her worshipper resembles;

For in his heart, as in thy stream,

Her image deeply lies —

His heart which trembles at the beam

Of her soul-searching eyes.

Al Aaraaf (1829)

This poem is based on stories from the Qur’an, and tells of the afterlife in the place called Al Aaraaf. Poe included it as the major poem in his 1829 collection Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems.

Part I

O! nothing earthly save the ray

(Thrown back from flowers) of Beauty’s eye,

As in those gardens where the day

Springs from the gems of Circassy —

O! nothing earthly save the thrill

Of melody in woodland rill —

Or (music of the passion-hearted)

Joy’s voice so peacefully departed

That like the murmur in the shell,

Its echo dwelleth and will dwell —

Oh, nothing of the dross of ours —

Yet all the beauty — all the flowers

That list our Love, and deck our bowers —

Adorn yon world afar, afar —

The wandering star.

’Twas a sweet time for Nesace — for there

Her world lay lolling on the golden air,

Near four bright suns — a temporary rest —

An oasis in desert of the blest.

Away — away —‘mid seas of rays that roll

Empyrean splendor o’er th’ unchained soul —

The soul that scarce (the billows are so dense)

Can struggle to its destin’d eminence —

To distant spheres, from time to time, she rode

And late to ours, the favor’d one of God —

But, now, the ruler of an anchor’d realm,

She throws aside the sceptre — leaves the helm,

And, amid incense and high spiritual hymns,

Laves in quadruple light her angel limbs.

Now happiest, loveliest in yon lovely Earth,

Whence sprang the “Idea of Beauty” into birth,

(Falling in wreaths thro’ many a startled star,

Like woman’s hair ‘mid pearls, until, afar,

It lit on hills Achaian, and there dwelt)

She looked into Infinity — and knelt.

Rich clouds, for canopies, about her curled —

Fit emblems of the model of her world —

Seen but in beauty — not impeding sight

Of other beauty glittering thro’ the light —

A wreath that twined each starry form around,

And all the opal’d air in color bound.

All hurriedly she knelt upon a bed

Of flowers: of lilies such as rear’d the head

On the fair Capo Deucato, and sprang

So eagerly around about to hang

Upon the flying footsteps of — deep pride —

Of her who lov’d a mortal — and so died.

The Sephalica, budding with young bees,

Upreared its purple stem around her knees:—

And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnam’d —

Inmate of highest stars, where erst it sham’d

All other loveliness:— its honied dew

(The fabled nectar that the heathen knew)

Deliriously sweet, was dropp’d from Heaven,

And fell on gardens of the unforgiven

In Trebizond — and on a sunny flower

So like its own above that, to this hour,

It still remaineth, torturing the bee

With madness, and unwonted reverie:

In Heaven, and all its environs, the leaf

And blossom of the fairy plant in grief

Disconsolate linger — grief that hangs her head,

Repenting follies that full long have Red,

Heaving her white breast to the balmy air,

Like guilty beauty, chasten’d and more fair:

Nyctanthes too, as sacred as the light

She fears to perfume, perfuming the night:

And Clytia, pondering between many a sun,

While pettish tears adown her petals run:

And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth,

And died, ere scarce exalted into birth,

Bursting its odorous heart in spirit to wing

Its way to Heaven, from garden of a king:

And Valisnerian lotus, thither flown”

From struggling with the waters of the Rhone:

And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante!

Isola d’oro! — Fior di Levante!

And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever

With Indian Cupid down the holy river —

Fair flowers, and fairy! to whose care is given

To bear the Goddess’ song, in odors, up to Heaven:

“Spirit! that dwellest where,

In the deep sky,

The terrible and fair,

In beauty vie!

Beyond the line of blue —

The boundary of the star

Which turneth at the view

Of thy barrier and thy bar —

Of the barrier overgone

By the comets who were cast

From their pride and from their throne

To be drudges till the last —

To be carriers of fire

(The red fire of their heart)

With speed that may not tire

And with pain that shall not part —

Who livest — that we know —

In Eternity — we feel —

But the shadow of whose brow

What spirit shall reveal?

Tho’ the beings whom thy Nesace,

Thy messenger hath known

Have dream’d for thy Infinity

A model of their own —

Thy will is done, O God!

The star hath ridden high

Thro’ many a tempest, but she rode

Beneath thy burning eye;

And here, in thought, to thee —

In thought that can alone

Ascend thy empire and so be

A partner of thy throne —

By winged Fantasy,

My embassy is given,

Till secrecy shall knowledge be

In the environs of Heaven.”

She ceas’d — and buried then her burning cheek

Abash’d, amid the lilies there, to seek

A shelter from the fervor of His eye;

For the stars trembled at the Deity.

She stirr’d not — breath’d not — for a voice was there

How solemnly pervading the calm air!

A sound of silence on the startled ear

Which dreamy poets name “the music of the sphere.”

Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call

“Silence”— which is the merest word of all.

All Nature speaks, and ev’n ideal things

Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings —

But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high

The eternal voice of God is passing by,

And the red winds are withering in the sky:—

“What tho ‘in worlds which sightless cycles run,

Linked to a little system, and one sun —

Where all my love is folly and the crowd

Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud,

The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath —

(Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?)

What tho’ in worlds which own a single sun

The sands of Time grow dimmer as they run,

Yet thine is my resplendency, so given

To bear my secrets thro’ the upper Heaven!

Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly,

With all thy train, athwart the moony sky —

Apart — like fire-flies in Sicilian night,

And wing to other worlds another light!

Divulge the secrets of thy embassy

To the proud orbs that twinkle — and so be

To ev’ry heart a barrier and a ban

Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!”

Up rose the maiden in the yellow night,

The single-mooned eve! — on Earth we plight

Our faith to one love — and one moon adore —

The birth-place of young Beauty had no more.

As sprang that yellow star from downy hours

Up rose the maiden from her shrine of flowers,

And bent o’er sheeny mountains and dim plain

Her way, but left not yet her Therasaean reign.

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Al Aaraaf, Part II

Part II

High on a mountain of enamell’d head —

Such as the drowsy shepherd on his bed

Of giant pasturage lying at his ease,

Raising his heavy eyelid, starts and sees

With many a mutter’d “hope to be forgiven”

What time the moon is quadrated in Heaven —

Of rosy head that, towering far away

Into the sunlit ether, caught the ray

Of sunken suns at eve — at noon of night,

While the moon danc’d with the fair stranger light —

Uprear’d upon such height arose a pile

Of gorgeous columns on th’ unburthen’d air,

Flashing from Parian marble that twin smile

Far down upon the wave that sparkled there,

And nursled the young mountain in its lair.

Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall

Thro’ the ebon air, besilvering the pall

Of their own dissolution, while they die —

Adorning then the dwellings of the sky.

A dome, by linked light from Heaven let down,

Sat gently on these columns as a crown —

A window of one circular diamond, there,

Look’d out above into the purple air,

And rays from God shot down that meteor chain

And hallow’d all the beauty twice again,

Save, when, between th’ empyrean and that ring,

Some eager spirit Flapp’d his dusky wing.

But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen

The dimness of this world: that greyish green

That Nature loves the best Beauty’s grave

Lurk’d in each cornice, round each architrave —

And every sculptur’d cherub thereabout

That from his marble dwelling peered out,

Seem’d earthly in the shadow of his niche —

Achaian statues in a world so rich!

Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis —

From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss

Of beautiful Gomorrah! O, the wave

Is now upon thee — but too late to save!

Sound loves to revel in a summer night:

Witness the murmur of the grey twilight

That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco,

Of many a wild star-gazer long ago —

That stealeth ever on the ear of him

Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim,

And sees the darkness coming as a cloud —

Is not its form — its voice — most palpable and loud?

But what is this? — it cometh, and it brings

A music with it —’tis the rush of wings —

A pause — and then a sweeping, falling strain

And Nesace is in her halls again.

From the wild energy of wanton haste

Her cheeks were flushing, and her lips apart;

And zone that clung around her gentle waist

Had burst beneath the heaving of her heart.

Within the centre of that hall to breathe,

She paused and panted, Zanthe! all beneath,

The fairy light that kiss’d her golden hair

And long’d to rest, yet could but sparkle there.

Young flowers were whispering in melody

To happy flowers that night — and tree to tree;

Fountains were gushing music as they fell

In many a star-lit grove, or moon-lit dell;

Yet silence came upon material things —

Fair flowers, bright waterfalls and angel wings —

And sound alone that from the spirit sprang

Bore burthen to the charm the maiden sang:

“‘Neath the blue-bell or streamer —

Or tufted wild spray

That keeps, from the dreamer,

The moonbeam away —

Bright beings! that ponder,

With half closing eyes,

On the stars which your wonder

Hath drawn from the skies,

Till they glance thro’ the shade, and

Come down to your brow

Like — eyes of the maiden

Who calls on you now —

Arise! from your dreaming

In violet bowers,

To duty beseeming

These star-litten hours —

And shake from your tresses

Encumber’d with dew

The breath of those kisses

That cumber them too —

(O! how, without you, Love!

Could angels be blest?)

Those kisses of true Love

That lull’d ye to rest!

Up! — shake from your wing

Each hindering thing:

The dew of the night —

It would weigh down your flight

And true love caresses —

O, leave them apart!

They are light on the tresses,

But lead on the heart.

Ligeia! Ligeia!

My beautiful one!

Whose harshest idea

Will to melody run,

O! is it thy will

On the breezes to toss?

Or, capriciously still,

Like the lone Albatros,

Incumbent on night

(As she on the air)

To keep watch with delight

On the harmony there?

Ligeia! wherever

Thy image may be,

No magic shall sever

Thy music from thee.

Thou hast bound many eyes

In a dreamy sleep —

But the strains still arise

Which thy vigilance keep —

The sound of the rain,

Which leaps down to the flower —

And dances again

In the rhythm of the shower —

The murmur that springs

From the growing of grass

Are the music of things —

But are modell’d, alas! —

Away, then, my dearest,

Oh! hie thee away

To the springs that lie clearest

Beneath the moon-ray —

To lone lake that smiles,

In its dream of deep rest,

At the many star-isles

That enjewel its breast —

Where wild flowers, creeping,

Have mingled their shade,

On its margin is sleeping

Full many a maid —

Some have left the cool glade, and

Have slept with the bee —

Arouse them, my maiden,

On moorland and lea —

Go! breathe on their slumber,

All softly in ear,

Thy musical number

They slumbered to hear —

For what can awaken

An angel so soon,

Whose sleep hath been taken

Beneath the cold moon,

As the spell which no slumber

Of witchery may test,

The rhythmical number

Which lull’d him to rest?”

Spirits in wing, and angels to the view,

A thousand seraphs burst th’ Empyrean thro’,

Young dreams still hovering on their drowsy flight —

Seraphs in all but “Knowledge,” the keen light

That fell, refracted, thro’ thy bounds, afar,

O Death! from eye of God upon that star:

Sweet was that error — sweeter still that death —

Sweet was that error — even with us the breath

Of Science dims the mirror of our joy —

To them ’twere the Simoom, and would destroy —

For what (to them) availeth it to know

That Truth is Falsehood — or that Bliss is Woe?

Sweet was their death — with them to die was rife

With the last ecstasy of satiate life —

Beyond that death no immortality —

But sleep that pondereth and is not “to be’! —

And there — oh! may my weary spirit dwell —

Apart from Heaven’s Eternity — and yet how far from Hell!

What guilty spirit, in what shrubbery dim,

Heard not the stirring summons of that hymn?

But two: they fell: for Heaven no grace imparts

To those who hear not for their beating hearts.

A maiden-angel and her seraph-lover —

O! where (and ye may seek the wide skies over)

Was Love, the blind, near sober Duty known?

Unguided Love hath fallen —‘mid “tears of perfect moan.”

He was a goodly spirit — he who fell:

A wanderer by moss-y-mantled well —

A gazer on the lights that shine above —

A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love:

What wonder? for each star is eye-like there,

And looks so sweetly down on Beauty’s hair —

And they, and ev’ry mossy spring were holy

To his love-haunted heart and melancholy.

The night had found (to him a night of woe)

Upon a mountain crag, young Angelo —

Beetling it bends athwart the solemn sky,

And scowls on starry worlds that down beneath it lie.

Here sat he with his love — his dark eye bent

With eagle gaze along the firmament:

Now turn’d it upon her — but ever then

It trembled to the orb of EARTH again.

“Ianthe, dearest, see — how dim that ray!

How lovely ’tis to look so far away!

She seem’d not thus upon that autumn eve

I left her gorgeous halls — nor mourn’d to leave.

That eve — that eve — I should remember well —

The sun-ray dropp’d in Lemnos, with a spell

On th’ arabesque carving of a gilded hall

Wherein I sate, and on the draperied wall —

And on my eyelids — O the heavy light!

How drowsily it weigh’d them into night!

On flowers, before, and mist, and love they ran

With Persian Saadi in his Gulistan:

But O that light! — I slumber’d — Death, the while,

Stole o’er my senses in that lovely isle

So softly that no single silken hair

Awoke that slept — or knew that he was there.

“The last spot of Earth’s orb I trod upon

Was a proud temple call’d the Parthenon;

More beauty clung around her column’d wall

Than ev’n thy glowing bosom beats withal,

And when old Time my wing did disenthral

Thence sprang I— as the eagle from his tower,

And years I left behind me in an hour.

What time upon her airy bounds I hung,

One half the garden of her globe was flung

Unrolling as a chart unto my view —

Tenantless cities of the desert too!

Ianthe, beauty crowded on me then,

And half I wish’d to be again of men.”

“My Angelo! and why of them to be?

A brighter dwelling-place is here for thee —

And greener fields than in yon world above,

And woman’s loveliness — and passionate love.”

“But, list, Ianthe! when the air so soft

Fail’d, as my pennon’d spirit leapt aloft,

Perhaps my brain grew dizzy — but the world

I left so late was into chaos hurl’d —

Sprang from her station, on the winds apart.

And roll’d, a flame, the fiery Heaven athwart.

Methought, my sweet one, then I ceased to soar

And fell — not swiftly as I rose before,

But with a downward, tremulous motion thro’

Light, brazen rays, this golden star unto!

Nor long the measure of my falling hours,

For nearest of all stars was thine to ours —

Dread star! that came, amid a night of mirth,

A red Daedalion on the timid Earth.”

“We came — and to thy Earth — but not to us

Be given our lady’s bidding to discuss:

We came, my love; around, above, below,

Gay fire-fly of the night we come and go,

Nor ask a reason save the angel-nod

She grants to us, as granted by her God —

But, Angelo, than thine grey Time unfurl’d

Never his fairy wing O’er fairier world!

Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes

Alone could see the phantom in the skies,

When first Al Aaraaf knew her course to be

Headlong thitherward o’er the starry sea —

But when its glory swell’d upon the sky,

As glowing Beauty’s bust beneath man’s eye,

We paused before the heritage of men,

And thy star trembled — as doth Beauty then!”

Thus, in discourse, the lovers whiled away

The night that waned and waned and brought no day.

They fell: for Heaven to them no hope imparts

Who hear not for the beating of their hearts.

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Alone

Alone (1829)

“Alone” is a 22-line poem, originally written in 1829 and left untitled and unpublished during his lifetime. The original manuscript was signed “E. A. Poe” and dated March 17, 1829. In February of that year, Poe’s foster mother Francis Allan had died. In September 1875, the poem, which had been in the possession of a family in Baltimore, was published with its title in Scribner’s Monthly. The editor, E. L. Didier, also reproduced a facsimile of the manuscript, though he admitted he added the date himself. The poem is now often included in anthologies.

“Alone” is often interpreted as autobiographical, expressing the author’s feelings of isolation and inner torment. Poet Daniel Hoffman believed “Alone” was evidence that “Poe really was a haunted man.” The poem, however, is an introspective about Poe’s youth, written when he was only 20 years old.

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were; I have not seen

As others saw; I could not bring

My passions from a common spring.

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow; I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone;

And all I loved, I loved alone.

Then — in my childhood, in the dawn

Of a most stormy life — was drawn

From every depth of good and ill

The mystery which binds me still:

From the torrent, or the fountain,

From the red cliff of the mountain,

From the sun that round me rolled

In its autumn tint of gold,

From the lightning in the sky

As it passed me flying by,

From the thunder and the storm,

And the cloud that took the form

(When the rest of Heaven was blue)

Of a demon in my view.

the thunder and the storm

An Acrostic (1829)

An unpublished 9-line poem written circa 1829 for Poe’s cousin Elizabeth Rebecca Herring (the acrostic is her first name, spelled out by the first letter of each line). It was never published in Poe’s lifetime. James H. Whitty discovered the poem and included it in his 1911 anthology of Poe’s works under the title “From an Album.” It was also published in Thomas Ollive Mabbott’s definitive Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe in 1969 as “An Acrostic.”

The poem mentions “Endymion,” possibly referring to an 1818 poem by John Keats with that name. The “L. E. L.” in the third line may be Letitia Elizabeth Landon, an English poet known for signing her work with those initials. “Zantippe” in line four is actually Xanthippe, wife of Socrates. The spelling of the name was changed to fit the acrostic.

Elizabeth it is in vain you say

“Love not”— thou sayest it in so sweet a way:

In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.

Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:

Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,

Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.

Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

To cure his love — was cured of all beside —

His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

Elizabeth (1829)

Believed to have been written in 1829, “Elizabeth” was never published in Poe’s lifetime. It was written for his Baltimore cousin, Elizabeth Rebecca Herring. Poe also wrote “An Acrostic” to her as well as the poem that would become “To F——s S. O——d.”

Elizabeth, it surely is most fit

[Logic and common usage so commanding]

In thy own book that first thy name be writ,

Zeno and other sages notwithstanding;

And I have other reasons for so doing

Besides my innate love of contradiction;

Each poet — if a poet — in pursuing

The muses thro’ their bowers of Truth or Fiction,

Has studied very little of his part,

Read nothing, written less — in short’s a fool

Endued with neither soul, nor sense, nor art,

Being ignorant of one important rule,

Employed in even the theses of the school —

Called — I forget the heathenish Greek name

[Called anything, its meaning is the same]

“Always write first things uppermost in the heart.”

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Fairy-Land (1829)

Originally titled “Heaven,” “Fairy-Land” was written while Poe was at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Poe first offered the poem to Nathaniel Parker Willis, who wrote in an edition of “The Editor’s Table” of the American Monthly of how he threw the submission into the fire and joyfully watched it burn. Nonetheless, it was soon published in the September 1829 issue of The Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette. The journal’s owner and editor John Neal introduced the poem and others by Poe as “nonsense”. He did, however, admit that the work showed great promise in the author. His introduction read, “If E. A. P. of Baltimore — whose lines about ‘Heaven,’ though he professes to regard them as altogether superior to any thing in the whole range of American poetry, save two or three trifles referred to, are, though nonsense, rather exquisite nonsense — would but do himself justice, might make a beautiful and perhaps magnificent poem. There is a good deal to justify such a hope.” It was first collected in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems in 1829. In that collection, Poe dedicated “Tamerlane” to Neal.

Robert Pinsky, who held the title of Poet Laureate of the United States from 1997-2000, said “Fairy-Land” was one of his favorite poems.

Dim vales — and shadowy floods —

And cloudy-looking woods,

Whose forms we can’t discover

For the tears that drip all over!

Huge moons there wax and wane —

Again — again — again —

Every moment of the night —

Forever changing places —

And they put out the star-light

With the breath from their pale faces.

About twelve by the moon-dial,

One more filmy than the rest

(A kind which, upon trial,

They have found to be the best)

Comes down — still down — and down,

With its centre on the crown

Of a mountain’s eminence,

While its wide circumference

In easy drapery falls

Over hamlets, over halls,

Wherever they may be —

O’er the strange woods — o’er the sea —

Over spirits on the wing —

Over every drowsy thing —

And buries them up quite

In a labyrinth of light —

And then, how deep! — O, deep!

Is the passion of their sleep.

In the morning they arise,

And their moony covering

Is soaring in the skies,

With the tempests as they toss,

Like — almost anything —

Or a yellow Albatross.

They use that moon no more

For the same end as before —

Videlicet, a tent —

Which I think extravagant:

Its atomies, however,

Into a shower dissever,

Of which those butterflies

Of Earth, who seek the skies,

And so come down again,

(Never-contented things!)

Have brought a specimen

Upon their quivering wings.

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Romance

Romance (1829)

“Romance” first appeared as “Preface” in the 1829 collection Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems then, in 1831, as “Introduction” in Poems By Edgar A. Poe. It took the title “Romance” in the February 25, 1843 issue of the Philadelphia Saturday Museum. The early versions made some allusion to alcohol with lines like, “drunkenness of the soul” and “the glories of the bowl.” In the poem, the speaker refers to some exotic bird that has been with him his whole life. He also says, “I could not love except where Death / Was mingling his with Beauty’s breath,” a line often termed autobiographical as many of the women in Poe’s love life were ill (an early love Jane Stanard died of tuberculosis, as did his wife Virginia; also, his later love Sarah Helen Whitman had a weak heart, etc.).

Romance, who loves to nod and sing,

With drowsy head and folded wing,

Among the green leaves as they shake

Far down within some shadowy lake,

To me a painted paroquet

Hath been — a most familiar bird —

Taught me my alphabet to say —

To lisp my very earliest word

While in the wild wood I did lie,

A child — with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years

So shake the very Heaven on high

With tumult as they thunder by,

I have no time for idle cares

Through gazing on the unquiet sky.

And when an hour with calmer wings

Its down upon my spirit flings —

That little time with lyre and rhyme

To while away — forbidden things!

My heart would feel to be a crime

Unless it trembled with the strings.

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Sonnet — To Science (1829)

“To Science”, or “Sonnet - To Science”, is a traditional 14-line English sonnet which says that science is the enemy of the poet because it takes away the mysteries of the world. Poe was concerned with the recent influx of modern science and social science and how it potentially undermined spiritual beliefs.

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!

Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.

Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,

Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?

How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,

Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering

To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,

Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?

Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?

And driven the Hamadryad from the wood

To seek a shelter in some happier star?

Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,

The Elfin from the green grass, and from me

The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

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To ——(1829)

This title refers to two poems carrying the same name. One begins with the lines “The bowers whereat, in dreams, I see.” The other begins “Should my early life seem”. Both first appeared collected in the 1829 Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. The first, consisting of 12 lines, was reprinted in the September 20, 1845, issue of the Broadway Journal and deals with the speaker’s loss which leaves him with “a funeral mind”. The poem, despite is many reprintings, never had any significant revisions. The second “To ——” was republished in the December 1829 issue of the Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette after being cut from 40 lines to 13. The narrator of this poem equates breaking with his love as one of several failures.

The bowers whereat, in dreams, I see

The wantonest singing birds,

Are lips — and all thy melody

Of lip-begotten words —

Thine eyes, in Heaven of heart enshrined,

Then desolately fall,

O God! on my funereal mind

Like starlight on a pall —

Thy heart — thy heart! — I wake and sigh,

And sleep to dream till day

Of the truth that gold can never buy —

Of the baubles that it may.

To ——(1829)

This, another of several poems by Poe addressed to an unnamed person, begins with the line “Not long ago, the writer of these lines . . . ” It was later renamed “To Marie Louise” for Marie Louise Shew, a woman who helped Poe’s wife as she was dying.

Not long ago, the writer of these lines,

In the mad pride of intellectuality,

Maintained “the power of words”— denied that ever

A thought arose within the human brain

Beyond the utterance of the human tongue:

And now, as if in mockery of that boast,

Two words — two foreign soft dissyllables —

Italian tones, made only to be murmured

By angels dreaming in the moonlit “dew

That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill,”

Have stirred from out the abysses of his heart,

Unthought-like thoughts that are the souls of thought,

Richer, far wilder, far diviner visions

Than even seraph harper, Israfel,

(Who has “the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures,”)

Could hope to utter. And I! my spells are broken.

The pen falls powerless from my shivering hand.

With thy dear name as text, though bidden by thee,

I cannot write — I cannot speak or think —

Alas, I cannot feel; for ’tis not feeling,

This standing motionless upon the golden

Threshold of the wide-open gate of dreams.

Gazing, entranced, adown the gorgeous vista,

And thrilling as I see, upon the right,

Upon the left, and all the way along,

Amid empurpled vapors, far away

To where the prospect terminates — thee only.

To Isaac Lea (1829)

“To Isaac Lea” is an unfinished poem, presumed written in May of 1829. Only four lines are known to exist. It seems to come from a letter Poe wrote to Isaac Lea, noted as a publishing partner in Philadelphia who was interested in natural history, especially conchology. Poe would attach his name to The Conchologist’s First Book ten years later.

It was my choice or chance or curse

To adopt the cause for better or worse

And with my worldly goods & wit

And soul & body worship it ——

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A Pæan (1831)

“A Pæan” is the original title of the poem that would become “Lenore”. It was first published as part of an early collection in 1831 with only 11 quatrains and it did not mention the name Lenore. The name was not added until it was published as “Lenore” in February 1843 in The Pioneer. This original version of the poem is so dissimilar from “Lenore” that it is often considered an entirely different poem. Both are usually collected separately in anthologies.

How shall the burial rite be read?

The solemn song be sung?

The requiem for the loveliest dead,

That ever died so young?

Her friends are gazing on her,

And on her gaudy bier,

And weep! — oh! to dishonor

Dead beauty with a tear!

They loved her for her wealth —

And they hated her for her pride —

But she grew in feeble health,

And they love her — that she died.

They tell me (while they speak

Of her “costly broider’d pall”)

That my voice is growing weak —

That I should not sing at all —

Or that my tone should be

Tun’d to such solemn song

So mournfully — so mournfully,

That the dead may feel no wrong.

But she is gone above,

With young Hope at her side,

And I am drunk with love

Of the dead, who is my bride. —

Of the dead — dead who lies

All perfum’d there,

With the death upon her eyes,

And the life upon her hair.

Thus on the coffin loud and long

I strike — the murmur sent

Through the grey chambers to my song,

Shall be the accompaniment.

Thou died’st in thy life’s June —

But thou did’st not die too fair:

Thou did’st not die too soon,

Nor with too calm an air.

From more than fiends on earth,

Thy life and love are riven,

To join the untainted mirth

Of more than thrones in heaven —

Therefore, to thee this night

I will no requiem raise,

But waft thee on thy flight,

With a Pæan of old days.

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Written while Poe was at West Point, “Israfel” is a poem in eight stanzas of varying lengths that was first published in April 1831 in Poems of Edgar A. Poe. It was re-worked and republished for the August 1836 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger. In an introduction to the poem, Poe says that Israfel is described in the Koran as an angel whose heart is a lute and who has “the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.” His song quiets the stars, the poem says, while the Earth-bound poet is limited in his own “music.” Poe’s friend Thomas Holley Chivers said “Israfel” comes the closest to matching Poe’s ideal of the art of poetry. Hervey Allen likened Poe himself to Israfel and titled his 1934 biography Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe.

In Heaven a spirit doth dwell

“Whose heart-strings are a lute”;

None sing so wildly well

As the angel Israfel,

And the giddy stars (so legends tell),

Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell

Of his voice, all mute.

Tottering above

In her highest noon,

The enamored moon

Blushes with love,

While, to listen, the red levin

(With the rapid Pleiads, even,

Which were seven,)

Pauses in Heaven.

And they say (the starry choir

And the other listening things)

That Israfeli’s fire

Is owing to that lyre

By which he sits and sings —

The trembling living wire

Of those unusual strings.

But the skies that angel trod,

Where deep thoughts are a duty —

Where Love’s a grown-up God —

Where the Houri glances are

Imbued with all the beauty

Which we worship in a star.

Therefore thou art not wrong,

Israfeli, who despisest

An unimpassioned song;

To thee the laurels belong,

Best bard, because the wisest!

Merrily live, and long!

The ecstasies above

With thy burning measures suit —

Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,

With the fervor of thy lute —

Well may the stars be mute!

Yes, Heaven is thine; but this

Is a world of sweets and sours;

Our flowers are merely — flowers,

And the shadow of thy perfect bliss

Is the sunshine of ours.

If I could dwell

Where Israfel

Hath dwelt, and he where I,

He might not sing so wildly well

A mortal melody,

While a bolder note than this might swell

From my lyre within the sky.

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In its first publication in 1831, “The City in the Sea” was published as “The Doomed City” before being renamed in 1845. It presents a personified Death sitting on the throne of a “strange city.”

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne

In a strange city lying alone

Far down within the dim West,

Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best

Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines and palaces and towers

(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)

Resemble nothing that is ours.

Around, by lifting winds forgot,

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters he.

No rays from the holy heaven come down

On the long night-time of that town;

But light from out the lurid sea

Streams up the turrets silently —

Gleams up the pinnacles far and free —

Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —

Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —

Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers

Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers —

Up many and many a marvellous shrine

Whose wreathed friezes intertwine

The viol, the violet, and the vine.

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters lie.

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in air,

While from a proud tower in the town

Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves

Yawn level with the luminous waves;

But not the riches there that lie

In each idol’s diamond eye —

Not the gaily-jewelled dead

Tempt the waters from their bed;

For no ripples curl, alas!

Along that wilderness of glass —

No swellings tell that winds may be

Upon some far-off happier sea —

No heavings hint that winds have been

On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!

The wave — there is a movement there!

As if the towers had thrust aside,

In slightly sinking, the dull tide —

As if their tops had feebly given

A void within the filmy Heaven.

The waves have now a redder glow —

The hours are breathing faint and low —

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence,

Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,

Shall do it reverence.

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The Sleeper (1831)

The poem that would become “The Sleeper” went through many revised versions. First, in the 1831 collection Poems of Edgar A. Poe, it appeared with 74 lines as “Irene.” It was 60 lines when it was printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier on May 22, 1841. Poe considered it one of his best compositions, according to a note he sent to fellow author James Russell Lowell in 1844. Like many of Poe’s works, the poem focuses on the death of a beautiful woman, a death which the mourning narrator struggles to deal with while considering the nature of death and life. Some lines seem to echo the poem “Christabel” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poet known to have had a heavy influence on Poe’s poetry.

Poe praised “The Sleeper” as a “superior” poem. He wrote to an admirer: “In the higher qualities of poetry, it is better than ‘The Raven’— but there is not one man in a million who could be brought to agree with me in this opinion.”

At midnight, in the month of June,

I stand beneath the mystic moon.

An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,

Exhales from out her golden rim,

And, softly dripping, drop by drop,

Upon the quiet mountain top,

Steals drowsily and musically

Into the universal valley.

The rosemary nods upon the grave;

The lily lolls upon the wave;

Wrapping the fog about its breast,

The ruin molders into rest;

Looking like Lethe, see! the lake

A conscious slumber seems to take,

And would not, for the world, awake.

All Beauty sleeps! — and lo! where lies

Irene, with her Destinies!

O, lady bright! can it be right —

This window open to the night?

The wanton airs, from the tree-top,

Laughingly through the lattice drop —

The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,

Flit through thy chamber in and out,

And wave the curtain canopy

So fitfully — so fearfully —

Above the closed and fringed lid

‘Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,

That, o’er the floor and down the wall,

Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!

Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?

Why and what art thou dreaming here?

Sure thou art come O’er far-off seas,

A wonder to these garden trees!

Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress,

Strange, above all, thy length of tress,

And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,

Which is enduring, so be deep!

Heaven have her in its sacred keep!

This chamber changed for one more holy,

This bed for one more melancholy,

I pray to God that she may lie

For ever with unopened eye,

While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep

As it is lasting, so be deep!

Soft may the worms about her creep!

Far in the forest, dim and old,

For her may some tall vault unfold —

Some vault that oft has flung its black

And winged panels fluttering back,

Triumphant, o’er the crested palls,

Of her grand family funerals —

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,

Against whose portal she hath thrown,

In childhood, many an idle stone —

Some tomb from out whose sounding door

She ne’er shall force an echo more,

Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!

It was the dead who groaned within.

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headpiece

The Valley of Unrest (1831)

Though first published as “The Valley Nis” in Poems by Edgar A. Poe in 1831, this poem evolved into the version “The Valley of Unrest” now anthologized. In its original version, the speaker asks if all things lovely are far away, and that the valley is part Satan, part angel, and a large part broken heart. It mentions a woman named “Helen,” which may actually refer to Jane Stanard, one of Poe’s first loves and the mother of a friend.

The poem was renamed “The Valley of Unrest” for the April 1845 issue of the American Review. This version of the poem is shorter and quite different from its predecessor, and there is no mention of “Helen”.

Once it smiled a silent dell

Where the people did not dwell;

They had gone unto the wars,

Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,

Nightly, from their azure towers,

To keep watch above the flowers,

In the midst of which all day

The red sunlight lazily lay.

Now each visitor shall confess

The sad valley’s restlessness.

Nothing there is motionless —

Nothing save the airs that brood

Over the magic solitude.

Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees

That palpitate like the chill seas

Around the misty Hebrides!

Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven

That rustle through the unquiet Heaven

Uneasily, from morn till even,

Over the violets there that lie

In myriad types of the human eye —

Over the lilies there that wave

And weep above a nameless grave!

They wave:— from out their fragrant tops

Eternal dews come down in drops.

They weep:— from off their delicate stems

Perennial tears descend in gems.

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To Helen (1831)

Helen, thy beauty is to me

Like those Nicean barks of yore,

That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,

The weary, wayworn wanderer bore

To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,

Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,

Thy Naiad airs have brought me home

To the glory that was Greece

And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche

How statue-like I see thee stand,

The agate lamp within thy hand!

Ah, Psyche, from the regions which

Are Holy Land!

Enigma (1833)

First printed in the February 2, 1833, issue of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, “Enigma” is a riddle that hints at 11 authors. Line two, for example, references Homer and the ninth refers to Alexander Pope. It was signed only with “P.”, though Thomas Ollive Mabbott attributed the poem to Poe - and solved the riddles. See the page on eapoe.org for more.

The noblest name in Allegory’s page,

The hand that traced inexorable rage;

A pleasing moralist whose page refined,

Displays the deepest knowledge of the mind;

A tender poet of a foreign tongue,

(Indited in the language that he sung.)

A bard of brilliant but unlicensed page

At once the shame and glory of our age,

The prince of harmony and stirling sense,

The ancient dramatist of eminence,

The bard that paints imagination’s powers,

And him whose song revives departed hours,

Once more an ancient tragic bard recall,

In boldness of design surpassing all.

These names when rightly read, a name [make] known

Which gathers all their glories in its own.

Fanny (1833)

First published in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter on May 18, 1833, the poem laments the death of a young love. It was originally signed only as “TAMERLANE.”

THE dying swan by northern lakes

Sing’s [Sings] its wild death song, sweet and clear,

And as the solemn music breaks

O’er hill and glen dissolves in air;

Thus musical thy soft voice came,

Thus trembled on thy tongue my name.

Like sunburst through the ebon cloud,

Which veils the solemn midnight sky,

Piercing cold evening’s sable shroud,

Thus came the first glance of that eye;

But like the adamantine rock,

My spirit met and braved the shock.

Let memory the boy recall

Who laid his heart upon thy shrine,

When far away his footsteps fall,

Think that he deem’d thy charms divine;

A victim on love’s alter [altar] slain,

By witching eyes which looked disdain.

Serenade (1833)

This serenade is directed at the beauty of untouched nature, as well as an unnamed lover. It was first printed in the April 20, 1833, issue of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter with the name “E. A. Poe.” The poem was never collected in any of Poe’s anthologies during his lifetime and was re-discovered by John C. French in 1917.

So sweet the hour, so calm the time,

I feel it more than half a crime,

When Nature sleeps and stars are mute,

To mar the silence ev’n with lute.

At rest on ocean’s brilliant dyes

An image of Elysium lies:

Seven Pleiades entranced in Heaven,

Form in the deep another seven:

Endymion nodding from above

Sees in the sea a second love.

Within the valleys dim and brown,

And on the spectral mountain’s crown,

The wearied light is dying down,

And earth, and stars, and sea, and sky

Are redolent of sleep, as I

Am redolent of thee and thine

Enthralling love, my Adeline.

But list, O list — so soft and low

Thy lover’s voice tonight shall flow,

That, scarce awake, thy soul shall deem

My words the music of a dream.

Thus, while no single sound too rude

Upon thy slumber shall intrude,

Our thoughts, our souls — O God above!

In every deed shall mingle, love.

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The Coliseum (1833)

“The Coliseum” explores Rome as a past glory that still exists in imagination. Poe submitted the poem to a contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, which offered a prize of $25 to the winner. The judges chose a poem submitted by editor John Hill Hewitt under the pseudonym “Henry Wilton”. Poe was outraged by what he considered nepotism; Hewitt later claimed that the two had a fistfight in the streets of Baltimore, though no evidence proves the event.

Despite the controversy, “The Coliseum” was published by the Visiter in its October 26, 1833, issue. It was later incorporated into Poe’s unfinished drama Politian.

In a July 1844 letter to fellow author James Russell Lowell, Poe put “The Coliseum” as one of his six best poems.

Type of the antique Rome! Rich reliquary

Of lofty contemplation left to Time

By buried centuries of pomp and power!

At length — at length — after so many days

Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst,

(Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie,)

I kneel, an altered and an humble man,

Amid thy shadows, and so drink within

My very soul thy grandeur, gloom, and glory!

Vastness! and Age! and Memories of Eld!

Silence! and Desolation! and dim Night!

I feel ye now — I feel ye in your strength —

O spells more sure than e’er Judaean king

Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane!

O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee

Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!

Here, where a hero fell, a column falls!

Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold,

A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat!

Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair

Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle!

Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled,

Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home,

Lit by the wan light of the horned moon,

The swift and silent lizard of the stones!

But stay! these walls — these ivy-clad arcades —

These moldering plinths — these sad and blackened shafts —

These vague entablatures — this crumbling frieze —

These shattered cornices — this wreck — this ruin —

These stones — alas! these grey stones — are they all —

All of the famed, and the colossal left

By the corrosive Hours to Fate and me?

“Not all”— the Echoes answer me —“not all!

Prophetic sounds and loud, arise forever

From us, and from all Ruin, unto the wise,

As melody from Memnon to the Sun.

We rule the hearts of mightiest men — we rule

With a despotic sway all giant minds.

We are not impotent — we pallid stones.

Not all our power is gone — not all our fame —

Not all the magic of our high renown —

Not all the wonder that encircles us —

Not all the mysteries that in us lie —

Not all the memories that hang upon

And cling around about us as a garment,

Clothing us in a robe of more than glory.”

To ——(1833)

This poem begins “Sleep on, sleep on, another hour” and first appeared in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter on May 11, 1833. It was signed “TAMERLANE” (just as the poem “Fanny,” which would be printed in the same periodical one week later) and addressed to an anonymous woman. It is essentially a lullaby.

Sleep on, sleep on, another hour —

I would not break so calm a sleep,

To wake to sunshine and to show’r,

To smile and weep.

Sleep on, sleep on, like sculptured thing,

Majestic, beautiful art thou;

Sure seraph shields thee with his wing

And fans thy brow —

We would not deem thee child of earth,

For, O, angelic, is thy form!

But, that in heav’n thou had’st thy birth,

Where comes no storm

To mar the bright, the perfect flow’r,

But all is beautiful and still —

And golden sands proclaim the hour

Which brings no ill.

Sleep on, sleep on, some fairy dream

Perchance is woven in thy sleep —

But, O, thy spirit, calm, serene,

Must wake to weep.

To One in Paradise (1833)

“To One in Paradise” was first published without a title as part of the short story “The Visionary” (later renamed “The Assignation”). It evolved into “To Ianthe in Heaven” and then into “To One Beloved” before being named “To One in Paradise” in the February 25, 1843 Saturday Museum.

Modernist poet William Carlos Williams considered “To One In Paradise” one of his most preferred poems.

The poem inspired a song composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan. “To One In Paradise” was published posthumously in 1904 and written for a tenor voice with piano.

Thou wast all that to me, love,

For which my soul did pine —

A green isle in the sea, love,

A fountain and a shrine,

All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,

And all the flowers were mine.

Ah, dream too bright to last!

Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise

But to be overcast!

A voice from out the Future cries,

“On! on!”— but o’er the Past

(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies

Mute, motionless, aghast!

For, alas! alas! me

The light of Life is o’er!

“No more — no more — no more-”

(Such language holds the solemn sea

To the sands upon the shore)

Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree

Or the stricken eagle soar!

And all my days are trances,

And all my nightly dreams

Are where thy grey eye glances,

And where thy footstep gleams —

In what ethereal dances,

By what eternal streams.

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Hymn (1835)

This 16-line poem was sung by the title character in Poe’s short story Morella, first published in April 1835 in the Southern Literary Messenger. It was later published as a stand-alone poem as “A Catholic Hymn” in the August 16, 1845 issue of the Broadway Journal. The poem addresses the Mother of God, thanking her for hearing her prayers and pleading for a bright future. When it was included in the collection The Raven and Other Poems it was lumped into one large stanza. In a copy of that collection he sent to Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe crossed out the word “Catholic.”

Choral composer Jonathan Adams included “Hymn” as part of his Three Songs from Edgar Allan Poe written for chorus and piano in 1993.

At morn — at noon — at twilight dim —

Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!

In joy and woe — in good and ill —

Mother of God, be with me still!

When the hours flew brightly by,

And not a cloud obscured the sky,

My soul, lest it should truant be,

Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;

Now, when storms of Fate o’ercast

Darkly my Present and my Past,

Let my Future radiant shine

With sweet hopes of thee and thine!

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To F——s S. O——d (1835 / 1845)

Originally a poem called “To Elizabeth,” dedicated to Poe’s cousin Elizabeth Herring and written in an album of hers. It was then published in a revised version in the September 1835 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger as “Lines Written in an Album” and apparently addressed to Eliza White. The poem in this version began, “Eliza! let they generous heart / From its present pathway part not.” White was the then 18-year old daughter of Thomas Willis White, Poe’s employer while he worked at the Messenger. Poe may have considered pursuing a relationship with her before his marriage to his cousin Virginia. One story suggests that Virginia’s mother Maria expedited Poe’s marriage to Virginia in order to prevent Poe’s involvement with Eliza White. T. W. White’s apprentice in old age would later say that Poe and Eliza were nothing more than friends.

The poem was renamed to the ambiguous “To —” in the August 1839 issue of Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine. With minor revisions, it was finally renamed in honor of Frances Sargent Osgood and published in the 1845 collection The Raven and Other Poems.

The speaker asks the addressee, “Thou wouldst be loved?” and suggest she stay on her current path to achieve that goal.

Thou wouldst be loved? — then let thy heart

From its present pathway part not!

Being everything which now thou art,

Be nothing which thou art not.

So with the world thy gentle ways,

Thy grace, thy more than beauty,

Shall be an endless theme of praise,

And love — a simple duty.

Spiritual Song (1836)

A poem, most likely incomplete, that was found in Poe’s desk at the offices of the Southern Literary Messenger in 1908. The manuscript is believed to date back to 1836; only three lines are known.

Hark, echo! — Hark; echo!

'Tis the sound

Of archangels, in happiness wrapt

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Bridal Ballad (1837)

First published simply as “Ballad” in the January 1837 edition of the Southern Literary Messenger, it was later retitled as “Bridal Ballad” when it was printed in the July 31, 1831 edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The poem is unusual for Poe because it is written in the voice of a woman, specifically a recently-married bride. Despite her reassurances that she is “happy,” the poem has a somber tone as it recounts a previous love who has died. In marrying, she has broken her vow to this previous lover to love him eternally.

Poe biographer Daniel Hoffman says that “Bridal Ballad” is guilty of “one of the most unfortunate rhymes in American poetry this side of Thomas Holley Chivers.” He is referring to the name of the bride’s dead lover, “D’Elormie,” which he calls “patently a forced rhyme” for “o’er me” and “before me” in the previous lines Aldous Huxley made the same observation, calling the rhyme “ludicrous” and “horribly vulgar.”

The poem is one of the only works by Poe to be written in the voice of a woman. See also the humorous tale “A Predicament.”

The ring is on my hand,

And the wreath is on my brow;

Satin and jewels grand

Are all at my command,

And I am happy now.

And my lord he loves me well;

But, when first he breathed his vow,

I felt my bosom swell —

For the words rang as a knell,

And the voice seemed his who fell

In the battle down the dell,

And who is happy now.

But he spoke to re-assure me,

And he kissed my pallid brow,

While a reverie came o’er me,

And to the church-yard bore me,

And I sighed to him before me,

Thinking him dead D’Elormie,

“Oh, I am happy now!”

And thus the words were spoken,

And this the plighted vow,

And, though my faith be broken,

And, though my heart be broken,

Here is a ring, as token

That I am happy now!

Would God I could awaken!

For I dream I know not how!

And my soul is sorely shaken

Lest an evil step be taken —

Lest the dead who is forsaken

May not be happy now.

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Sonnet — To Zante (1837)

A Shakespearean sonnet, it was first published in the January 1837 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger. The poem praises the beauty of the island Zante. The last two lines, written in Italian, are also used in Poe’s earlier poem “Al Aaraaf.”

Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers,

Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take!

How many memories of what radiant hours

At sight of thee and thine at once awake!

How many scenes of what departed bliss!

How many thoughts of what entombed hopes!

How many visions of a maiden that is

No more — no more upon thy verdant slopes!

No more! alas, that magical sad sound

Transforming all! Thy charms shall please no more —

Thy memory no more! Accursed ground

Henceforth I hold thy flower-enameled shore,

O hyacinthine isle! O purple Zante!

“Isola d’oro! Fior di Levante!”

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Silence (1839)

Not to be confused with Poe’s short story, “Silence: A Fable,” “Silence-A Sonnet” was first published on January 4, 1840, in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier. After some revision, it was republished in the Broadway Journal on July 26, 1845. The poem compares the sea and the shore to the body and the soul. There is a death of the body that is silence, the speaker says, that should not be mourned. He does, however, warn against the silent death of the soul.

There are some qualities — some incorporate things,

That have a double life, which thus is made

A type of that twin entity which springs

From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.

There is a two-fold Silence — sea and shore —

Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,

Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,

Some human memories and tearful lore,

Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”

He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!

No power hath he of evil in himself;

But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)

Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,

That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod

No foot of man,) commend thyself to God!

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The Haunted Palace (1839)

The 48-line poem was first released in the April 1839 issue of Nathan Brooks' American Museum magazine. It was eventually incorporated into "The Fall of the House of Usher" as a poem written by Roderick Usher.

In the greenest of our valleys

By good angels tenanted,

Once a fair and stately palace —

Radiant palace — reared its head.

In the monarch Thought’s dominion —

It stood there!

Never seraph spread a pinion

Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,

On its roof did float and flow,

(This — all this — was in the olden

Time long ago,)

And every gentle air that dallied,

In that sweet day,

Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,

A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,

Through two luminous windows, saw

Spirits moving musically,

To a lute’s well-tuned law,

Round about a throne where, sitting

(Porphyrogene!)

In state his glory well-befitting,

The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing

Was the fair palace door,

Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,

And sparkling evermore,

A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty

Was but to sing,

In voices of surpassing beauty,

The wit and wisdom of their king.

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But evil things, in robes of sorrow,

Assailed the monarch’s high estate.

(Ah, let us mourn! — for never morrow

Shall dawn upon him desolate!)

And round about his home the glory

That blushed and bloomed,

Is but a dim-remembered story

Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,

Through the red-litten windows see

Vast forms, that move fantastically

To a discordant melody,

While, like a ghastly rapid river,

Through the pale door

A hideous throng rush out forever

And laugh — but smile no more.

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Eulalie (1843)

“Eulalie” was first published in 1845 in American Review: A Whig Journal and is about a man who overcomes his sadness by marrying the beautiful Eulalie.

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I dwelt alone

In a world of moan,

And my soul was a stagnant tide,

Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride —

Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.

Ah, less — less bright

The stars of the night

Than the eyes of the radiant girl!

That the vapor can make

With the moon-tints of purple and pearl,

Can vie with the modest Eulalie’s most unregarded curl —

Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie’s most humble and careless curl.

Now Doubt — now Pain

Come never again,

For her soul gives me sigh for sigh,

And all day long

Shines, bright and strong,

Astarte within the sky,

While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye —

While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.

Lenore (title)

Lenore

Lenore (1843)

Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll! — a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy de Vere, hast thou no tear? — weep now or nevermore!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read — the funeral song be sung! —
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young —
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

“Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her — that she died!
How shall the ritual, then, be read? — the requiem how be sung
By you — by yours, the evil eye — by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?”

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong.
The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride.
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes
The life still there, upon her hair — the death upon her eyes.

“Avaunt! avaunt! from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven —
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven —
From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven!
Let no bell toll, then — lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth!
And I! — to-night my heart is light! — no dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!”

Lenore

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The Conqueror Worm (1843)

First published as a separate poem in 1843, “The Conqueror Worm” was later incorporated into the text of Poe’s short story “Ligeia.” The poems seems to imply that all life is a worthless drama that inevitably leads to death.

Lo! ’tis a gala night

Within the lonesome latter years!

An angel throng, bewinged, bedight

In veils, and drowned in tears,

Sit in a theatre, to see

A play of hopes and fears,

While the orchestra breathes fitfully

The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,

Mutter and mumble low,

And hither and thither fly —

Mere puppets they, who come and go

At bidding of vast formless things

That shift the scenery to and fro,

Flapping from out their Condor wings

Invisible Woe!

That motley drama — oh, be sure

It shall not be forgot!

With its Phantom chased for evermore,

By a crowd that seize it not,

Through a circle that ever returneth in

To the self-same spot,

And much of Madness, and more of Sin,

And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout

A crawling shape intrude!

A blood-red thing that writhes from out

The scenic solitude!

It writhes! — it writhes! — with mortal pangs

The mimes become its food,

And seraphs sob at vermin fangs

In human gore imbued.

Out — out are the lights — out all!

And, over each quivering form,

The curtain, a funeral pall,

Comes down with the rush of a storm,

While the angels, all pallid and wan,

Uprising, unveiling, affirm

That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”

And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

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Lines on Joe Locke (1843)

“Lines on Joe Locke” was a short, two stanza poem written to make fun of a commanding officer during Poe’s time at West Point. Poe was known for his funny verses on staff and faculty at the academy. Lieutenant Locke was either generally not well-liked, or Poe had a more personal vendetta with him. The poem teases that Locke “was never known to lie” in bed while roll was being called, and he was “well known to report” (i.e. cite cadets for discipline purposes).

As for Locke, he is all in my eye,

May the d — l right soon for his soul call.

He never was known to lie --

In bed at reveille "roll call."

John Locke was a notable name;

Joe locke is a greater; in short,

The former was well known to fame,

But the latter's well known "to report."

Dream-Land (1844)

First published in the June 1844 issue of Graham’s Magazine, “Dream-Land” (also called “Dreamland”) was the only poem Poe published that year. It was quickly republished in a June 1845 edition of the Broadway Journal.

This lyric poem consists of five stanzas, with the first and last being nearly identical. The dream-voyager arrives in a place beyond time and space and decides to stay there. This place is odd yet majestic, with “mountains toppling evermore into seas without a shore.” Even so, it is a “peaceful, soothing region” and is a hidden treasure like El Dorado. Poe biographer Arthur Hobson Quinn called it “one of [Poe’s ] finest creations”, with each phrase contributing to one effect: a human traveler wandering between life and death.

The seventh line of the poem is typically pushed slightly to the left of the other lines’ indentation.

By a route obscure and lonely,

Haunted by ill angels only,

Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,

On a black throne reigns upright,

I have reached these lands but newly

From an ultimate dim Thule —

From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,

Out of SPACE— out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,

And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,

With forms that no man can discover

For the tears that drip all over;

Mountains toppling evermore

Into seas without a shore;

Seas that restlessly aspire,

Surging, unto skies of fire;

Lakes that endlessly outspread

Their lone waters — lone and dead —

Their still waters — still and chilly

With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread

Their lone waters, lone and dead —

Their sad waters, sad and chilly

With the snows of the lolling lily —

By the mountains — near the river

Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever —

By the grey woods — by the swamp

Where the toad and the newt encamp —

By the dismal tarns and pools

Where dwell the Ghouls —

By each spot the most unholy —

In each nook most melancholy —

There the traveller meets aghast

Sheeted Memories of the Past —

Shrouded forms that start and sigh

As they pass the wanderer by —

White-robed forms of friends long given,

In agony, to the Earth — and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion

’Tis a peaceful, soothing region —

For the spirit that walks in shadow

’Tis — oh, ’tis an Eldorado!

But the traveller, travelling through it,

May not — dare not openly view it!

Never its mysteries are exposed

To the weak human eye unclosed;

So wills its King, who hath forbid

The uplifting of the fringed lid;

And thus the sad Soul that here passes

Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,

Haunted by ill angels only,

Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,

On a black throne reigns upright,

I have wandered home but newly

From this ultimate dim Thule.

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Epigram for Wall Street (1845)

Printed in the New York Evening Mirror on January 23, 1845, the poem is generally accepted as being written by Poe, though it was published anonymously.

I’ll tell you a plan for gaining wealth,

Better than banking, trade or leases —

Take a bank note and fold it up,

And then you will find your money in creases!

This wonderful plan, without danger or loss,

Keeps your cash in your hands, where nothing can trouble it;

And every time that you fold it across,

’Tis as plain as the light of the day that you double it!

Impromptu. To Kate Carol (1845)

Kate Carol was a pseudonym for Frances Sargent Osgood, a woman with whom Poe exchanged love notes published in journals. Poe was married at the time, yet his friendship with Osgood was very public. This four line poem, written with an almost juvenile tone, compares the woman’s beautiful thoughts with her beautiful eyes.

The poem, which consists of four lines, was published in the Broadway Journal on April 26, 1845. It was unsigned but Poe biographer and critic T.O. Mabbott assigns it as Poe’s without hesitation. Osgood copied the poem and gave it to her friend Elizabeth Oakes Smith with the title “To the Sinless Child.” This copy is now preserved in the library of the University of Virginia.

When from your gems of thought I turn

To those pure orbs, your heart to learn,

I scarce know which to prize most high —

The bright i-dea, or the bright dear-eye.

The Divine Right of Kings (1845)

“The Divine Right of Kings” is attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, though not fully proven. It appeared in Graham’s Magazine in October 1845. The “King” of the title is Ellen King, possibly representing Frances Sargent Osgood, to whom the writer pledges his devotion. It was first identified as Poe’s in an article on November 21, 1915, using the poem’s signature of “P.” as evidence.

The only king by right divine

Is Ellen King, and were she mine

I’d strive for liberty no more,

But hug the glorious chains I wore.

Her bosom is an ivory throne,

Where tyrant virtue reigns alone;

No subject vice dare interfere,

To check the power that governs here.

O! would she deign to rule my fate,

I’d worship Kings and kingly state,

And hold this maxim all life long,

The King — my King — can do no wrong.

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The Raven (1845)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —

Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —

Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,

“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door —

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; —

This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”— here I opened wide the door; —

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore —

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; —

’Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore —

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning — little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door —

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing further then he uttered — not a feather then he fluttered —

Till I scarcely more than muttered, “other friends have flown before —

On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore —

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never — nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,

But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee — by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite — respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! — prophet still, if bird or devil! —

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted —

On this home by horror haunted — tell me truly, I implore —

Is there — is there balm in Gilead? — tell me — tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil — prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us — by that God we both adore —

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore —

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting —

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken! — quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted — nevermore!

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To F——(1845)

The poem that begins “Beloved! amid the earnest woes . . . ” was published by the Broadway Journal twice in 1845 - once in the April issue then cut down to four lines in the September 6 issue with the more revealing title “To Frances.” Referring to Frances S. Osgood, the speaker discusses the chaos and woes of his life, and how they are calmed by dreams of this woman he is addressing.

It was actually a re-working of “To Mary,” first published in the Southern Literary Messenger’s July 1835 issue. It was also revised into “To One Departed,” printed in Graham’s Magazine, March 1842, before it was ever addressed to Frances Osgood.

Beloved! amid the earnest woes

That crowd around my earthly path —

(Drear path, alas! where grows

Not even one lonely rose)—

My soul at least a solace hath

In dreams of thee, and therein knows

An Eden of bland repose.

And thus thy memory is to me

Like some enchanted far-off isle

In some tumultuous sea —

Some ocean throbbing far and free

With storms — but where meanwhile

Serenest skies continually

Just o’er that one bright island smile.

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A Valentine (1846)

First published in the New York Evening Mirror’s February 21, 1846 issue, “A Valentine” was written specifically for Frances Sargent Osgood, whose name is hidden within the lines of the poem. In its first publication, it had the title “To Her Whose Name Is Written Below.” To find the name, take the first letter of the first line, then the second letter of the second line, then the third letter of the third line, and so on. Before its publication, it was presented at a private literary salon at the home of Anne Lynch Botta on February 14, 1846. Though Poe was not in attendance, it was a very public revelation of his affection for Osgood.

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,

Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,

Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies

Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.

Search narrowly the lines! — they hold a treasure

Divine — a talisman — an amulet

That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure —

The words — the syllables! Do not forget

The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor

And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

Which one might not undo without a sabre,

If one could merely comprehend the plot.

Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering

Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus

Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing

Of poets, by poets — as the name is a poet’s, too,

Its letters, although naturally lying

Like the knight Pinto — Mendez Ferdinando —

Still form a synonym for Truth — Cease trying!

You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

A Valentine

Beloved Physician (1847)

“The Beloved Physician” was written around April 1847 for Mary-Louise Shew, a nurse who also inspired Poe’s more famous poem, “The Bells”. The poem was originally ten stanzas long, although a version with nine stanzas was supposedly prepared by Poe for publication. It was never printed during his lifetime, and it now appears to be lost. Shew was able to recall about a tenth of a poem in a letter to editor John W. Ingham in 1875; these fragments were published in 1909, and appear to be all that remains of the piece.

The pulse beats ten and intermits;

God nerve the soul that ne’er forgets

In calm or storm, by night or day,

Its steady toil, its loyalty.

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

The pulse beats ten and intermits;

God shield the soul that ne’er forgets.

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

The pulse beats ten and intermits;

God guide the soul that ne’er forgets.

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ] so tired, so weary,

The soft head bows, the sweet eyes close,

The faithful heart yields to repose.

Deep in Earth (1847)

“Deep in Earth” is a couplet, presumably part of an unfinished poem Poe was writing in 1847. In January of that year, Poe’s wife Virginia had died in New York of tuberculosis. It is assumed that the poem was inspired by her death. It is difficult to discern, however, if Poe had intended the completed poem to be published or if it was personal.

Poe scribbled the couplet onto a manuscript copy of his poem “Eulalie.” That poem seems autobiographical, referring to his joy upon marriage. The significance of the couplet implies that he has gone back into a state of loneliness similar to before his marriage.

Deep in earth my love is lying

And I must weep alone.

To Marie Louise (1847)

Written in 1847 for Marie Louise Shew, voluntary nurse of Poe’s wife Virginia, it was not published until March 1848 in Columbian Magazine as “To ——.” Poe never pursued a romantic relationship with Shew, and the poem has no strong romantic overtones. It discusses the writer’s inability to write, distracted by the thought of “thee.” The poem also references an earlier poem of Poe, “Israfel.”

Not long ago, the writer of these lines,

In the mad pride of intellectuality,

Maintained “the power of words”— denied that ever

A thought arose within the human brain

Beyond the utterance of the human tongue:

And now, as if in mockery of that boast,

Two words — two foreign soft dissyllables —

Italian tones, made only to be murmured

By angels dreaming in the moonlit “dew

That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill,”

Have stirred from out the abysses of his heart,

Unthought-like thoughts that are the souls of thought,

Richer, far wilder, far diviner visions

Than even seraph harper, Israfel,

(Who has “the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures,”)

Could hope to utter. And I! my spells are broken.

The pen falls powerless from my shivering hand.

With thy dear name as text, though bidden by thee,

I cannot write — I cannot speak or think —

Alas, I cannot feel; for ’tis not feeling,

This standing motionless upon the golden

Threshold of the wide-open gate of dreams.

Gazing, entranced, adown the gorgeous vista,

And thrilling as I see, upon the right,

Upon the left, and all the way along,

Amid empurpled vapors, far away

To where the prospect terminates — thee only.

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To Miss Louise Olivia Hunter (1847)

Never published in Poe’s lifetime, it was found as a manuscript dated February 14, 1847. It was included in the 1969 anthology edited by Thomas Olive Mabbott. The “Unknown Poe” anthology edited by Raymond Foye titles it “To Louise Oliver Hunter.”

According to the Baltimore Poe Society, Hunter was a college student who entered a poetry contest judged by Poe in 1845. Hunter won, and Poe read her poem at a commencement ceremony on July 11, 1845. Poe’s poem may have been written as part of one of Anne Lynch’s annual Valentine’s Day parties, though the poem contains no romantic or particularly personal overtones. The poem says the narrator attempts to leave but can not, as he is “spelled” by art. He compares this attraction to a snake beguiling a bird from a tree.

Though I turn, I fly not —

I cannot depart;

I would try, but try not

To release my heart.

And my hopes are dying

While, on dreams relying,

I am spelled by art.

Thus, the bright snake coiling

’Neath the forest tree

Wins the bird, beguiling,

To come down and see:

Like that bird the lover

Round his fate will hover

Till the blow is over

And he sinks — like me.

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To M. L. S——(1847)

Poe wrote this poem to Marie Louise Shew, who helped Poe’s wife Virginia as she was dying. The original manuscript was sent directly to her, dated February 14, 1847. A revised version was printed in Home Journal’s March 13, 1847, issue.

Of all who hail thy presence as the morning —

Of all to whom thine absence is the night —

The blotting utterly from out high heaven

The sacred sun — of all who, weeping, bless thee

Hourly for hope — for life — ah! above all,

For the resurrection of deep-buried faith

In Truth — in Virtue — in Humanity —

Of all who, on Despair’s unhallowed bed

Lying down to die, have suddenly arisen

At thy soft-murmured words, “Let there be light!”

At the soft-murmured words that were fulfilled

In the seraphic glancing of thine eyes —

Of all who owe thee most — whose gratitude

Nearest resembles worship — oh, remember

The truest — the most fervently devoted,

And think that these weak lines are written by him —

By him who, as he pens them, thrills to think

His spirit is communing with an angel’s.

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Ulalume (1847)

Much like a few of Poe's other poems (such as "The Raven", "Annabel Lee", and "Lenore"), "Ulalume" focuses on the narrator's loss of a beautiful woman due to her untimely death. Poe originally wrote the poem as an elocution piece and, as such, the poem is known for its focus on sound. Additionally, it makes many allusions, especially to mythology, and the identity of Ulalume herself, if a real person, has been questioned.

The skies they were ashen and sober;

The leaves they were crisped and sere —

The leaves they were withering and sere;

It was night in the lonesome October

Of my most immemorial year;

It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,

In the misty mid region of Weir —

It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,

In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,

Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul —

Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.

There were days when my heart was volcanic

As the scoriac rivers that roll —

As the lavas that restlessly roll

Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek

In the ultimate climes of the pole —

That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek

In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,

But our thoughts they were palsied and sere —

Our memories were treacherous and sere —

For we knew not the month was October,

And we marked not the night of the year —

(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)

We noted not the dim lake of Auber —

(Though once we had journeyed down here),

Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,

Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Astarte

And now, as the night was senescent,

And star-dials pointed to morn —

As the star-dials hinted of morn —

At the end of our path a liquescent

And nebulous lustre was born,

Out of which a miraculous crescent

Arose with a duplicate horn —

Astarte’s bediamonded crescent

Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said —“She is warmer than Dian:

She rolls through an ether of sighs —

She revels in a region of sighs:

She has seen that the tears are not dry on

These cheeks, where the worm never dies,

And has come past the stars of the Lion,

To point us the path to the skies —

To the Lethean peace of the skies —

Come up, in despite of the Lion,

To shine on us with her bright eyes —

Come up through the lair of the Lion,

With love in her luminous eyes.”

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,

Said —“Sadly this star I mistrust —

Her pallor I strangely mistrust:—

Oh, hasten! — oh, let us not linger!

Oh, fly! — let us fly! — for we must.”

In terror she spoke, letting sink her

Wings until they trailed in the dust —

In agony sobbed, letting sink her

Plumes till they trailed in the dust —

Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied —“This is nothing but dreaming:

Let us on by this tremulous light!

Let us bathe in this crystalline light!

Its Sybilic splendor is beaming

With Hope and in Beauty to-night:—

See! — it flickers up the sky through the night!

Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,

And be sure it will lead us aright —

We safely may trust to a gleaming

That cannot but guide us aright,

Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

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Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,

And tempted her out of her gloom —

And conquered her scruples and gloom;

And we passed to the end of the vista,

But were stopped by the door of a tomb —

By the door of a legended tomb;

And I said —“What is written, sweet sister,

On the door of this legended tomb?”

She replied —“Ulalume — Ulalume —

’Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober

As the leaves that were crisped and sere —

As the leaves that were withering and sere —

And I cried —“It was surely October

On this very night of last year

That I journeyed — I journeyed down here —

That I brought a dread burden down here —

On this night of all nights in the year,

Ah, what demon has tempted me here?

Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber —

This misty mid region of Weir —

Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,

This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

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An Enigma (1848)

A riddle poem in a modified sonnet form, “An Enigma” was published in March 1848 in the Union Magazine of Literature and Art under its original simple title “Sonnet.” Its new title was attached by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Its lines conceal an anagram with the name Sarah Anna Lewis (also known as “Stella”). Lewis was an amateur poet who met Poe shortly after the death of his wife Virginia while he lived in Fordham, New York. Lewis’s husband paid Poe $100 to write a review of Sarah’s work. That review appeared in the September 1848 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger. Marie Louise Shew (Virginia’s one-time volunteer nurse, of sorts) later said that Poe called Lewis a “fat, gaudily-dressed woman.” Poe biographer Arthur Hobson Quinn called “An Enigma” “one of Poe’s feeblest poems”.

“Seldom we find,” says Solomon Don Dunce,

“Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.

Through all the flimsy things we see at once

As easily as through a Naples bonnet —

Trash of all trash! — how can a lady don it?

Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff —

Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff

Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.”

And, veritably, Sol is right enough.

The general tuckermanities are arrant

Bubbles — ephemeral and so transparent —

But this is, now — you may depend upon it —

Stable, opaque, immortal — all by dint

Of the dear names that he concealed within ‘t.

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Eldorado (1848)

A short poem referencing the mythical El Dorado. A traveler asks a “shade” where to find the legendary city of gold and is told to “ride, boldly ride.”

Gaily bedight,

A gallant knight,

In sunshine and in shadow,

Had journeyed long,

Singing a song,

In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old —

This knight so bold —

And o’er his heart a shadow

Fell as he found

No spot of ground

That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength

Failed him at length,

He met a pilgrim shadow —

“Shadow,” said he,

“Where can it be —

This land of Eldorado?”

“Over the Mountains

Of the Moon,

Down the Valley of the Shadow,

Ride, boldly ride,”

The shade replied —

“If you seek for Eldorado!”

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Evangeline (1848)

“Evangeline” was included at the end of Poe’s 1848’s essay “The Rationale of Verse.” It was first published in the November 1848 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger.

Do tell when shall we make common sense men out of the owl-eyed pundits
Out of The Frog-faced stupid old God-born Pundits who lost in a fog-bank
Strut about all along shore there somewhere close by the Down East
Frog Duck Pond munching of pea nuts and pumpkins and buried in big-wigs
Why ask who ever yet saw money made out of a fat old
Jew or downright upright nutmegs out of a pine-knot

Lines on Ale (1848)

A simple 8-line poem, “Lines on Ale” may have been written by Poe to pay his drinking bill. It was discovered at the Washington Tavern in Lowell, Massachusetts where it was written. The original copy hung on the wall of the tavern until about 1920.

The poem depicts a joyful narrator who carelessly lets time go by as he asks for another drink of ale, saying he will drain another glass. He enjoys the “hilarious visions” and “queerest fancies” that enter his brain while drinking.

Fill with mingled cream and amber

I will drain that glass again.

Such hilarious visions clamber

Through the chamber of my brain —

Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies

Come to life and fade away;

What care I how time advances?

I am drinking ale today

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The Bells (1848)

First published after Poe’s death, “The Bells” is a heavily onomatopoeic poem known for its repetition.

I

  Hear the sledges with the bells —

Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

  How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

  In the icy air of night!

  While the stars that oversprinkle

  All the heavens, seem to twinkle

 With a crystalline delight;

Keeping time, time, time,

 In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

 From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells —

From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

II

  Hear the mellow wedding bells,

Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

  Through the balmy air of night

  How they ring out their delight!

From the molten-golden notes,

And an in tune,

What a liquid ditty floats

To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats

On the moon!

  Oh, from out the sounding cells,

What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!

How it swells!

How it dwells

On the Future! how it tells

Of the rapture that impels

  To the swinging and the ringing

Of the bells, bells, bells,

  Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,

Bells, bells, bells —

To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

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III

  Hear the loud alarum bells —

Brazen bells!

What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

  In the startled ear of night

How they scream out their affright!

  Too much horrified to speak,

  They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune,

In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,

In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,

  Leaping higher, higher, higher,

With a desperate desire,

  And a resolute endeavor,

  Now — now to sit or never,

By the side of the pale-faced moon.

   Oh, the bells, bells, bells!

   What a tale their terror tells

Of Despair!

 How they clang, and clash, and roar!

 What a horror they outpour

   On the bosom of the palpitating air!

   Yet the ear it fully knows,

By the twanging,

And the clanging,

   How the danger ebbs and flows:

   Yet the ear distinctly tells,

In the jangling,

And the wrangling,

   How the danger sinks and swells,

By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells —

Of the bells —

   Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,

Bells, bells, bells —

  In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

IV

  Hear the tolling of the bells —

Iron Bells!

What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!

  In the silence of the night,

  How we shiver with affright

At the melancholy menace of their tone!

  For every sound that floats

  From the rust within their throats

 Is a groan.

  And the people — ah, the people —

  They that dwell up in the steeple,

All Alone

  And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,

In that muffled monotone,

  Feel a glory in so rolling

On the human heart a stone —

  They are neither man nor woman —

  They are neither brute nor human —

They are Ghouls:

And their king it is who tolls;

And he rolls, rolls, rolls,

Rolls

  A paean from the bells!

  And his merry bosom swells

With the paean of the bells!

  And he dances, and he yells;

  Keeping time, time, time,

  In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the paean of the bells —

Of the bells:

  Keeping time, time, time,

  In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the throbbing of the bells —

  Of the bells, bells, bells —

To the sobbing of the bells;

  Keeping time, time, time,

As he knells, knells, knells,

  In a happy Runic rhyme,

To the rolling of the bells —

  Of the bells, bells, bells:

To the tolling of the bells,

  Of the bells, bells, bells, bells —

Bells, bells, bells —

To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

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To Helen (1848)

The original manuscript was sent to Sarah Helen Whitman in 1848. It was published as “To ——” in the Union Magazine’s November issue that year. It became the second of Poe’s “To Helen” poems when published as “To Helen” in the October 10, 1849 issue of the New York Daily Tribune.

I saw thee once — once only — years ago:

I must not say how many — but not many.

It was a July midnight; and from out

A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,

Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,

There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,

With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber,

Upon the upturned faces of a thousand

Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,

Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe —

Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses

That gave out, in return for the love-light,

Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death —

Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses

That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted

By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.

Clad all in white, upon a violet bank

I saw thee half reclining; while the moon

Fell on the upturn’d faces of the roses,

And on thine own, upturn’d — alas, in sorrow!

Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight —

Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow,)

That bade me pause before that garden-gate,

To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?

No footstep stirred: the hated world an slept,

Save only thee and me. (Oh, Heaven! — oh, God!

How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)

Save only thee and me. I paused — I looked —

And in an instant all things disappeared.

(Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)

The pearly lustre of the moon went out:

The mossy banks and the meandering paths,

The happy flowers and the repining trees,

Were seen no more: the very roses’ odors

Died in the arms of the adoring airs.

All — all expired save thee — save less than thou:

Save only the divine light in thine eyes —

Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.

I saw but them — they were the world to me!

I saw but them — saw only them for hours,

Saw only them until the moon went down.

What wild heart-histories seemed to he enwritten

Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!

How dark a woe, yet how sublime a hope!

How silently serene a sea of pride!

How daring an ambition; yet how deep —

How fathomless a capacity for love!

But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,

Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;

And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees

Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained;

They would not go — they never yet have gone;

Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,

They have not left me (as my hopes have) since;

They follow me — they lead me through the years.

They are my ministers — yet I their slave.

Their office is to illumine and enkindle —

My duty, to be saved by their bright light,

And purified in their electric fire,

And sanctified in their elysian fire.

They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),

And are far up in Heaven — the stars I kneel to

In the sad, silent watches of my night;

While even in the meridian glare of day

I see them still — two sweetly scintillant

Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!

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A Dream Within a Dream (1849)

“A Dream Within A Dream” was first published in 1849, the year of Poe’s death, and asks if all life is really a dream.

Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow —

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand —

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep — while I weep!

O God! can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp?

O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

the pitiless wave

headpiece

Annabel Lee (1849)

The last complete poem written by Poe, it was published shortly after his death in 1849. The speaker of the poem talks about a lost love, Annabel Lee, and may have been based on Poe’s own relationship with his wife Virginia, though that is disputed.

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea;

But we loved with a love that was more than love —

I and my Annabel Lee;

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsman came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,

Went envying her and me —

Yes! — that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we —

Of many far wiser than we —

And neither the angels in heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling — my darling — my life and my bride,

In the sepulchre there by the sea,

In her tomb by the sounding sea.

For Annie (1849)

“For Annie” was written for Nancy Richmond (whom Poe called Annie) of Lowell, Massachusetts. Richmond was a married woman and Poe developed a strong platonic, though complicated, relationship with her. The poem was first set to be published on April 28, 1849 in the journal Flag of our Union, which Poe said was a “paper for which sheer necessity compels me to write.” Fearing its publication there would consign it “to the tomb of the Capulets,” he sent it to Nathaniel Parker Willis for publication in the Home Journal on the same day as Flag of Our Union. The poem talks about an illness from which Richmond helped Poe recover. It speaks about “the fever called ‘Living’” that has been conquered, ending his “moaning and groaning” and his “sighing and sobbing.” In a letter dated March 23, 1849, Poe sent the poem he wrote to Richmond saying, “I think the lines ‘For Annie’ (those I now send) much the best I have ever written.”

Richmond would officially change her name to Annie after her husband’s death in 1873.

Thank Heaven! the crisis —

The danger is past,

And the lingering illness

Is over at last —

And the fever called “Living”

Is conquered at last.

Sadly, I know

I am shorn of my strength,

And no muscle I move

As I lie at full length —

But no matter!-I feel

I am better at length.

And I rest so composedly,

Now, in my bed

That any beholder

Might fancy me dead —

Might start at beholding me,

Thinking me dead.

The moaning and groaning,

The sighing and sobbing,

Are quieted now,

With that horrible throbbing

At heart:— ah, that horrible,

Horrible throbbing!

The sickness — the nausea —

The pitiless pain —

Have ceased, with the fever

That maddened my brain —

With the fever called “Living”

That burned in my brain.

And oh! of all tortures

That torture the worst

Has abated — the terrible

Torture of thirst

For the naphthaline river

Of Passion accurst:—

I have drunk of a water

That quenches all thirst:—

Of a water that flows,

With a lullaby sound,

From a spring but a very few

Feet under ground —

From a cavern not very far

Down under ground.

And ah! let it never

Be foolishly said

That my room it is gloomy

And narrow my bed;

For man never slept

In a different bed —

And, to sleep, you must slumber

In just such a bed.

My tantalized spirit

Here blandly reposes,

Forgetting, or never

Regretting its roses —

Its old agitations

Of myrtles and roses:

For now, while so quietly

Lying, it fancies

A holier odor

About it, of pansies —

A rosemary odor,

Commingled with pansies —

With rue and the beautiful

Puritan pansies.

And so it lies happily,

Bathing in many

A dream of the truth

And the beauty of Annie —

Drowned in a bath

Of the tresses of Annie.

She tenderly kissed me,

She fondly caressed,

And then I fell gently

To sleep on her breast —

Deeply to sleep

From the heaven of her breast.

When the light was extinguished,

She covered me warm,

And she prayed to the angels

To keep me from harm —

To the queen of the angels

To shield me from harm.

And I lie so composedly,

Now, in my bed,

(Knowing her love)

That you fancy me dead —

And I rest so contentedly,

Now, in my bed,

(With her love at my breast)

That you fancy me dead —

That you shudder to look at me,

Thinking me dead.

But my heart it is brighter

Than all of the many

Stars in the sky,

For it sparkles with Annie —

It glows with the light

Of the love of my Annie —

With the thought of the light

Of the eyes of my Annie.

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To My Mother headpiece

To My Mother (1849)

A heartful sonnet written to Poe’s mother-in-law and aunt Maria Clemm, “To My Mother” says that the mother of the woman he loved is more important than his own mother. It was first published on July 7, 1849 in Flag of Our Union. It has alternately been published as “Sonnet to My Mother.”

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,

The angels, whispering to one another,

Can find, among their burning terms of love,

None so devotional as that of “Mother,”

Therefore by that dear name I long have called you —

You who are more than mother unto me,

And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you

In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.

My mother — my own mother, who died early,

Was but the mother of myself; but you

Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,

And thus are dearer than the mother I knew

By that infinity with which my wife

Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

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decorated title 'Preface and Dedication to Volume of 1845'

dedication

decorated title 'Notes to Al Aaraaf'

decorated title 'Scenes from Politian'

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Finis (ornament)

This web edition published by:

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005