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

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.

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