Text: Charles W. Kent (notes) Robert A. Stewart (variants) (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Notes to Israfel,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VII: Poems (1902), p. 172-175


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[page 172, continued:]

ISRAFEL.

Page 47.

1831; SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER, AUGUST, 1836; GRAHAMS MAGAZINE, OCTOBER, 1841; PHILADELPHIA SATURDAY MUSEUM, MARCH 4, 1843; 1845; BROADWAY JOURNAL, II. 3.

Text, 1845.

The earliest version (1831) reads as follows: —

ISRAFEL.(1)

I.

In Heaven a spirit doth dwell

Whose heart-strings are a lute —

None sing so wild — so well

As the angel Israfel —

And the giddy stars are mute. [page 173:]

II.

Tottering above

In her highest noon

The enamoured moon

Blushes with love —

While, to listen, the red levin

Pauses in Heaven.

III.

And they say (the starry choir

And all the listening things)

That Israfeli’s fire

Is owing to that lyre

With those unusual strings.

IV.

But the Heavens that angel trod

Where deep thoughts are a duty —

Where Love is a grown god —

Where Houri glances are —

Stay! turn thine eyes afar! —

Imbued with all the beauty

Which we worship in yon star.

V.

Thou art not, therefore, wrong

Israfeli, who despisest

An unimpassion’d song:

To thee the laurels belong

Best bard, — because the wisest.

VI.

The extacies above

With thy burning measures suit —

Thy grief — if any — thy love

With the fervor of thy lute —

Well may the stars be mute! [page 174:]

VII.

Yes, Heaven is thine: but this

Is a world of sweets and sours:

Our flowers are merely — flowers,

And the shadow of thy bliss

Is the sunshine of ours.

VIII.

If I did dwell where Israfel

Hath dwelt, and he where I,

He would not sing one half as well —

One half so passionately,

While a stormier note than this would swell

From my lyre within the sky.

Variations of Southern Literary Messenger from above.

I. 2 lute — (:) II. 2 noon (noon,) IV. 4 are — (o. d.) 5 (omit), 7yon (a) V. 5 bard, — (—) VIII. 6 While a stormier (And a loftier).

Variations of Graham’ s Magazine from the text.

Note. Israfel (Israfel, or Israfeli) sweetest (most musical).

II. 6-9 With . . . Heaven (Pauses in Heaven, | With the rapid Pleiads, even | Which were seven.) III. 4 owing to (due unto) 6 The (That) 6 wire (lyre) 7 Of (With) IV. 1 skies (Heavens) 3 Lovers (Love is) 3 grown-up (grown) 6 star. (—) After 6 insert: The more lovely, the more far! V. 1 Therefore, thou art not (Thou art not, therefore,) 3 song; (.) VI. 4 fervour (fervor) 4 lute — (.) VII. 2 sours; (—) 3 flowers, (;) 4 perfect (o.) VIII. 1 could (did) 4 well (well,) 5 (One half so passionately,) 7 sky. (!) [page 175:]

Variations of the Broadway Journal from the text.

IV. 1 Where (And) 3 grown-up (o. h.) 3 God — (,) 4 Where (And) a duty — (,) V. 1 Thou art not, therefore VI. 4 fervour (fervor).

EDITORS NOTE.

This is among the best of Poe’s poems. The last verse is the clearest. — Cf. Al Aaraaf;

all the beauty

Which we worship in a star.

Prof. Woodberry (Poems, 181) remarks that the phrase, “whose heartstrings are a lute,” was not in the original motto derived by Poe from Moore’s “Lalla Rookh,” but was interpolated, as in the text.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 172:]

1.  And the angel Israfel, who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Notes to Israfel)