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


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.

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