Text: Abijah M. Ide, Jr. to Edgar Allan Poe — October 1, 1843


South Attleboro’ Mass., Oct. 1, 1843.

My Dear Sir, — You must give me credit for a proper degree of moral courage, in thus presuming to write to the Peter McPrawler [[sic]] of Graham’s Magazine.

I am no author; that is, in the eyes of the world. Yet I claim a place in the great family of Poets; having “done something in the dark “ which will bear comparison with the production of the celebrated Bobby Button. It is rather a bashful piece of business, to introduce one’s self to a stranger, and by letter; but I will write frankly and freely, and you must pardon the personal pronoun.

I am eighteen; and

This have I learned, that to my hand,

Is given the labor of the land:

My foot must tread the furrowed ground,

And stand when harvest-time comes round:

To me is given the laborer’s care —

In autumn, mine the laborer’s share.

I borrow these lines from a Poem, which I have written this summer, for the double purpose of showing you the life I lead, and the verse I write. I have not studied the art of Poetry, and all the education that others have given me, I have received from the “Schoolmasters and Schoolma’ams “ of our District School. I write because I cannot help it. I am poor, but am not foolish enough to expect wealth for my words, or vain enough to be in a hurry to get into print, and get for myself the name and fame of the Poet. I can wait.

I want but one thing: — an acquaintance and fellowship with other Poets. Men are brothers, and man must, if he be a Poet, have some to cherish and love. Now there are not in the regions around about Old Attleboro’ ten men who know Poetry from prose. — Not one who has any sympathy with the hopes and dreams of the poet’s heart. This utter loneliness and complete want of some in whom to confide such secrets as a Poet has, has driven me to seek friends among strangers.

You now understand my position, and why I have written to you; and if you will give me your hand in friendship, you will make one heart glad. Upon the next page I copy a few lines from some poems, that I have lately written and, I shall value your opinion of their merit, higher than that of others. The following lines are from a poem, entitled “One Year” which is unfinished.

As cometh gladness to the heart, when grief

Hath dwelt a season, came the Spring to earth,

To the imprisoned waters with relief,

And to the forests with the songs of mirth:

The south winds breathed upon the drifted snow —

It vanished from the valley & the hill:

The soft rains fell. —

Swift was the river’s flow

And loud and glad the murmur of the rills

Upon the bosom of the silent gale

Came back the robin to his native tree;

And merry songsters sang in every vale

Unwritten music of the pure and free.

The succeeding twelve lines are the conclusion of “Life, a Poem.”

As the life which hath been given

For a season to us here; —

The breath we draw at morn and even —

What have men, they hold so dear?

They will part with earthly treasure,

Wealth and station, honor, fame,

Every source of pride and pleasure

That the tongue of man can name.

What men cherish, they will offer,

What man loveth he will give:

Labor, strive, endure and suffer,

For the liberty to live!

This last Poem contains eighty-four lines. But after all, this cutting a stanza out of the middle of a poem, is like sending a brick as a specimen of a house, and “I will no more of it.”

Write to me I pray, as you would to a brother, and if you will give me liberty, at some future time I will send you copies of some of my pieces. Meanwhile, I have work to do, that makes the hand hard and the face brown.

Yours very truly
A. M. Ide Jr.  

Edgar A. Poe.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - A. M. Ide, Jr. to Poe (RCL453)