Last Update: Feb. 4, 2000         Navigation:   Main Menu    Poe's Misc
[Text: Edgar Allan Poe, "[Excerpts from Milton]," manuscript, undated but possibly @1829, 1 page, 2 sides.]


[column 1:]

Yet some there are that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key
That opes the palace of Eternity.

                                             A spirit pure
As treads the spangled pavement of the sky
The gentle Philadel.

Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles
That like to rich and various gems inlay
The unadorned bosom of the deep.

                         But first I must put off
These my sky-robes.

On sands and shores, and desert wildernesses.

What chance good lady, hath bereft you thus?
Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth.

In such a scant allowance of starlight

And thou shalt be our star of Arcady
Or Tyrian Cynosure.

By the gaily-circling glass
We can see how minutes pass
By the hollow cask are told
How the waning night grows old.

All I hope of mortal man
Is to love me while he can

               See! here be all the pleasures
That Fancy can beget on youthful thoughts.

Losing youth is losing all.

The heart is wiser than the schools
The senses always revison call

No sighs nor murmured but of gentle love
Whose woes delight, what must his pleasures then?

Thrice upon thy fingers tip
Thrice upon thy ruby lip.

And yet more med'cinal is it than that Moly
Which Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave

[column 2:]

When day never shuts his eye
Up in the broad fields of the sky.

And from thence can soar as soon
To the corners of the moon.

Taught by virtue you may climb
Higher than the sphery chime
Or if virtue feeble were
Heaven itself would stoop to her.

May thy brimmed waves for this
Thy full tribute never miss
May thy billows roll ashore
The beryl, and the golden ore

He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept — nor welter to the parching wind
Without the mead of some melodious tear.

Were it not better done as others use
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair ?

Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
That last infirmity of noble mind
To score delight, and live laborious days

Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood.

What power ? what spell ? what mighty force is not
Your learned hands can loose this Gordian Knot !
Hymns devout, and holy psalms
Singing everlastingly.

What needs my Shakespeare for his sacred bones
An age of labor in a pile of stones
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-y-pointing pyramid?

Who would not sing for Lycidas? He knew
Himself to sing.



[column 1:]

O nightingale that on yon bloomy spray
Warblest at eve when all the woods are still !

Donna leggiadra, il cui bel nome honora
L'herbosa val di Rheno, e il nobil varco,
Bene è colui d'ogni valore scarco
Qual tuo spirto gentil non innamora.

Fair lady whose harmonious name the Rhine
Thro' all her grassy vale delights to hear
But were indeed the wretch who could forbear
To love a spirit elegant as thine.

Amor lo volse, ed io a l'altrui peso
Seppi ch'Amor cosa mai volse indarno.

So love has will'd, and oftimes Love has shown
That what he wills he never wills in vain.

Questa è lingua di cui si vanta amore.

This is the language in which Love delights.

Parole adorne di lingua piu d'una,
E'l cantar che di mezzo l'hemispero.
Traviar ben può la faticosa Luna.

Words exquisite, of idioms more than one,
And song, whose fascinating power might bind
And from her sphere draw down the lab'ring moon.

Madonna, a voi del mio cuor l'humil dono
Farò divoto; io certo a prove tante
L'hebbi fedele, intrepido, costante
De pensieri leggiadro, accorto, e buono.

To thee dear lady with an humble sigh
Let me devote my heart which I have found
By certain proofs not few, intrepid sound
Good and addicted to conceptions high.

Quanto rugge il gran mondo, e scocca il tuono
S'arma di se, e d'intero diamante.

When tempests shake the world & fire the sky
It rest in adamant self-wrapp'd around.

[column 2:]

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth
Stolen on his wing my 3 and 20th year !

Lift not thy spear against the Muses bower
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus when temple & tower
Went to the ground: And the repeated air
Of sad Electra's poet had the power
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.

That would have made Quintillian stare & gasp

Rail'd at Latona's twin-born progeny
Which after held the sun and moon in fee.

License they mean when they cry "Liberty."

Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
Than his Casella, whom he wooed to sing
Met in the milder shades of Purgatory.

Meekly thou didst resign this earthly load
of death called life.

But as Faith pointed with her golden rod
Followed thee up to joy and bliss forever.
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old.

                             Till Favonius re-inspire
The frozen Earth, and clothe in fresh attire
The lily and rose that neither sow'd nor spun.

The better part with Mary & with Ruth
Chosen thou hast.

The breaking of that Parliament
Broke him — as that dishonest victory
At Cheronæa fatal to liberty
Killed with report that old man eloquent.

[This one-page document is reprinted here, with permission, from the collection of the Poe Foundation in Richmond, Virginia.]

[Mabbott comments that these notes are probably from about 1829 (Poems, 1969, p. xxvi, note 6) though without explanation. Presumably, he thinks Poe made them while preparing "Al Aaraaf," which contains references to Comus. These extracts appear to have been first printed by Thomas P. Haviland in "How Well Did Poe Know Milton?," PMLA, September 1954, pp. 841-860. Haviland states that Mabbott, in 1954, set the date of the manuscript as 1831-1834 (Haviland, p. 844).]

[In 1866, Lambert A. Wilmer recalled that "On Literary subjects Poe held some singularly heterodox opinions. As for Milton, Shakspeare, and the whole array of illustrious British poets, he professed to hold them in great contempt" (L. A. Wilmer, "Recollections of Edgar A. Poe," Baltimore Daily Commercial, May 23, 1866, vol. I, no. 200., p. 1, col. 5. Reprinted in Mabbott, 1941, p. 31.). Mabbott comments, "Poe may have inveighed against the faults of Shakespeare and Milton, but many references in his works show he admired them for all that" (Mabbott, "notes to 'Wilmer's Recollections of Edgar A. Poe," Merlin, Together with Recollections of Edgar A. Poe, New York: Scholar's Facsimiles & Reprints, 1941, p. 28).]

[The page has been folded in half horizontally, then in half vertically, then in half vertically again, so the page is divided by folds into eight rectangular segments of equal size. Poe may have carried this in a pocket. It is possible that he may have used it as part of one of his lectures, along with his excerpts from Shakespeare.]

[Sources for the quotations:

Front page ("Comus," "Lycidas," etc.):

1 - "Yet some there are . . . "   "Comus," lines 12-14.

2 - "A spirit pure . . ."  "Comus," (scene I)

3 - "Imperial rule of all . . ."   "Comus,"  lines 21-23.

4 - "But first I must put off . . . "  "Comus," lines 82-83.

5 - "On sands and shores . . . "  "Comus," line 229.

6 - "What chance good lady . . . "  "Comus," lines 277-278.

7 - "In such a scant . . . "  "Comus," line 308

8 - "And thou shalt be . . ."  "Comus,"  line 341-342

9 - "By the gaily-circling . . . "   "Comus," line ??

10 - "All I hope of mortal . . . "   "Comus," line ??

11 - "See! here be all the . . ."  "Comus"   lines 669-

12 - "Losing youth is losing all" Comus ("Song -- By A. Man) (in scene I)

13 - "The heart is wiser than . . ."

14 - "Nor sighs nor murmurs but . . ."

15 - "Thrice upon thy fingers tip . . ."    "Comus," lines 914-915

16 - "And yet more med'cinal is it . . ."    "Comus," lines 636-637

17 - "And from thence can soar . . ."    "Comus," lines 1016-1017

18 - "Taught by virtue you may . . . "    "Comus," lines 1020-1023

19 - "May thy brimmed waves . . ."    "Comus," lines 924-925 and 932-933

20 - "He must not float upon . . ."    "Lycidas," line ??

21 - "Were it not better done . . ."     "Lycidas," lines 67-69

22 - "Fame is the spur that the . . ."     "Lycidas," lines 70-72

23 - "Henceforth thou are the . . ."     "Lycidas," lines 183-185

24 - "What power ? what spell ? . . ."    "At a Vacation Exercise," lines 89-90

25 - "Hymns devout, and holy . . ."    "At a Solemn Music," lines 15-16

26 - "What needs my Shakespeare . . ."    "On Shakespeare," lines 1-4

27 - "Who would not sing for . . ."    "Lycidas," lines 10-11

Back page (Sonnets):

1 - "O nightingale . . . "  "[Sonnet I: On the Nightingale]," lines 1-2.

2 - "Donna leggiadra, il . . . "  "[Sonnet II, in Italian: Donna Leggiadra]," lines 1-4.

3 - "Fair Lady whose . . . "   translation by William Cowper of lines above.

4 - "Guardi ciascun a gli . . . "   "[Sonnet II, in Italian: Donna Leggiadra]," lines 11-12.

5 - "Ah then -- turn each . . . "   translation by William Cowper of lines above.

6 - "Amor lo volse, ed io . . ."    "[Sonnet III, in Italian: Qual in colle aspro]," lines 11-12.

7 - "So love a spirit elegant . . ."   translation by William Cowper of lines above.

8 - "Questa e lingua di . . ."    "[Canzone, in Italian: Ridonsi donne e giovani]," line 15.

9 - "This is the language in . . ."   translation by William Cowper of lines above.

10 - "Parole adorne di lingua . . ."    "[Sonnet IV, in Italian: Parole adorne di lingua]," lines 10-12.

11 - "Words exquisite, of idioms . . ."   translation by William Cowper of lines above.

12 - "Madonna a voi del mio . . ."    "[Sonnet VI, in Italian: Giovanne piano, e semplicetto]," lines 3-6.

13 - "To thee dear lady with . . ."   translation by William Cowper of lines above.

14 - "Quando rugge il gran . . ."    "[Sonnet VI, in Italian: Giovanne piano, e semplicetto]," lines 7-8.

15 - "When tempests shake . . ."   translation by William Cowper of lines above.

16 - "How soon hath Time . . ."    "[Sonnet VII: How Soon hath Time]," lines 1-2.

17 - "Lift not thy spear against . . ."    "[Sonnet VIII: Captain or Colonel, or Knight]," lines 9-14.

18 - "That would have made . . ."    "[Sonnet XI: A Book was writ of late]," line 11.

19 - "Rail'd at Latona's twin-born . . . "    "[Sonnet XII: I did but prompt the age to quit]," lines 6-7.

20 - "Dante shall give Fame . . ."    "[Sonnet XIII: Harry whose tuneful and well measur'd]," lines 12-14.

21 - "Meekly thou didst resign . . ."    "[Sonnet XIV: When Faith and Love which parted]," lines 3-4.

22 - "But as Faith pointed . . . "    "[Sonnet XIV: When Faith and Love which parted]," lines 7-8.

23 - "Till Favonius re-inspire . . . "    "[Sonnet XX: Lawrence of vertuous Father]," lines 6-8.

24 - "The better part with Mary . . ."   "[Sonnet IX: Lady that in the prime]," lines 5-6.

25 - "The breaking of that . . . "    "[Sonnet X: Daughter to that good Earl]," lines 5-8.]

~~~ End of Text ~~~

[S:0 - MS]