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!
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53