The Complete poems of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe


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.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59