Text: Charles W. Kent (notes) Robert A. Stewart (variants) (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Notes to Lenore,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VII: Poems (1902), pp. 182-187


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[page 182, continued:]

LENORE.

Page 53.

THE PIONEER, FEBRUARY, 1843; PHILADELPHIA SATURDAY MUSEUM, MARCH 4, 1843; 1845; BROADWAY JOURNAL, II. 6. | A PÆAN, 1831; SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER, JANUARY, 1836.

Text, 1845.

The earliest version is 1831, and runs as follows: —

A PÆAN.

I.

How shall the burial rite be read?

The solemn song be sung?

The requiem for the loveliest dead,

That ever died so young?

II.

Her friends are gazing on her,

And on her gaudy bier,

And weep! — oh! to dishonor

Dead beauty with a tear!

III.

They loved her for her wealth —

And they hated her for her pride —

But she grew in feeble health,

And they love her — that she died. [page 183:]

IV.

They tell me (while they speak

Of her “costly broider’d pall”)

That my voice is growing weak —

That I should not sing at all —

V.

Or that my tone should be

Tun’d to such solemn song

So mournfully — so mournfully,

VI.

That the dead may feel no wrong.

But she is gone above,

With young Hope at her side, And I am drunk with love

Of the dead, who is my bride. —

VII.

Of the dead — dead who lies

All perfum’d there,

With the death upon her eyes,

And the life upon her hair.

VIII.

Thus on the coffin loud and long

I strike — the murmur sent

Through the gray chambers to my song,

Shall be the accompaniment.

IX

Thou died’st in thy life’s June —

But thou didst not die too fair

Thou did’st not die too soon,

Nor with too calm an air. [page 184:]

X

From more than fiends on earth,

Thy life and love are riven,

To join the untainted mirth

Of more than thrones in heaven —

XI.

Therefore, to thee this night

I will no requiem raise,

But waft thee on thy flight

With a Paean of old days.

The following are the variations of the Southern Literary Messenger from above.

II. 4 Dead (Her) VI. 4 bride. — (.) VII. 1 dead vjho (dead — who) 2 perfum”d there (motionless) 4 her hair (each tress) VIII. omit, IX. 1, 2 In June she died — in June | Of life — beloved, and fair; | 3 Thou didst (But she did) X. 2 Thy life and love are (Helen, thy soul is) 3 untainted (all-hallowed).

Stanzas not numbered in Southern Literary Messenger.

The Pioneer version (1843) is as follows: —

LENORE.

Ah, broken is the golden bowl!

The spirit flown forever!

Let the bell toll! — A saintly soul

Glides down the Stygian river!

And let the burial rite be read —

The funeral song be sung —

A dirge for the most lovely dead

That ever died so young!

And, Guy De Vere,

Hast thou no tear?

Weep now or nevermore! [page 185:]

See, on yon drear

And rigid bier,

Low lies thy love Lenore!

 

“Yon heir, whose cheeks of pallid hue

With tears are streaming wet,

Sees only, through

Their crocodile dew,

A vacant coronet —

False friends! ye loved her for her Wealth

And hated her for pride,

And, when she fell in feeble health,

Ye blessed her — that she died.

How shall the ritual, then, be read?

The requiem how be sung

For her most wrong’d of all the dead

That ever died so young?”

 

Peccavimus!

But rave not thus!

And let the solemn song

Go up to God so mournfully that she may feel no wrong!

The sweet Lenore

Hath “gone before”

With young hope at her side,

And thou art wild

For the dear child

That should have been thy bride —

For her, the fair

And debonair,

That now so lowly lies —

The life still there

Upon her hair,

The death upon her eyes.

 

“Avaunt! — to-night

My heart is light —

No dirge will I upraise, [page 186:]

But waft the angel on her flight

With a Pagan of old days!

Let no bell toll!

Lest her sweet soul,

Amid its hallow’d mirth,

Should catch the note

As it doth float

Up from the damned earth —

To friends above, from fiends below,

Th’ indignant ghost is riven —

From grief and moan

‘To a gold throne

Beside the King of Heaven!”

The following are the variations of Broadway Journal from 1845:

I. 2 river; (,) IV. 7 grief (moan).

The Lorimer Graham variations of the text from 1845 not seen or not adopted by Griswold, are as follows:

Substitute for IV.:

“Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise.

“But waft the angel on her flight with a paean of old days!

“Let no bell toll! — lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,

‘’Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damne’d Earth.

“To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven —

“From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven —

“From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven.’ ”

Note. — Mrs. S. H. Whitman, in “Edgar Poe and his Critics,” asserts, without further evidence, that in a version of “Lenore” published in Russell’s Magazine, the name “Helen” occurs instead of “Lenore.” — ED. [page 187:]

Col. T. W. Higginson (“Short Studies of American Authors,” p. 15) remarks: “Never in American literature, I think, was such a fountain of melody flung into the air as when ‘Lenore’ first appeared in ‘The Pioneer;.’ and never did fountain so drop downward as when Poe re-arranged it in its present form. The irregular measure had a beauty as original as that of ‘Christabel;’ and the lines had an ever-varying cadence of their own, until their author himself took them and cramped them into couplets. What a change from

Peccavimus!

But rave not thus!

And let the solemn song

Go up to God so mournfully that she may feel no wrong!

to the amended version portioned off in regular lengths.”

EDITORS NOTE.

The innocent Lenore — the queenliest dead — was done to death by slanderous eyes and tongues. Lenore has gone to Heaven, taking with her hope, leaving her lover wild for her who should have been his bride. This merits no dirge but a paean. This lyric of grief has again for its theme the death of a beautiful young woman.

Poe’s fondness for the name is shown by its recurrence in “The Raven,” and in “Eleonora,” one of the best of his prose-poems.

 


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Notes:

In a letter from J. H. Ingram to S. H. Whitman, August 3, 1874, Ingram writes “The early version of ‘The [[A]] Paean,’ is in Russell’s Magazine (from S. Literary Messenger) as also is the ‘The Valley of Nis.’” (Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 201). In an earlier letter, Mrs. Whitman wrote to Ingram, Feb. 19, 1874: “The printed matter consisted simply of a page copied from Poe’s article on autographs — where printed, I have forgotten, & some pages from Russell’s Mag. sent me, years ago, by Mr. Davidson, containing versions of some of the earlier poems” (Poe’s Helen Remembers, 30). Davidson had written to Mrs. Whitman on April 23, 1858, including pages from his defense of Poe from the November 1857 issue of Russell’s Magazine (ms letter in the Ingram Collection, U. VA, item 88). The poems noted, however, do not appear to have been printed in that article. — JAS


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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 Lenore)