Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (and E. A. Poe), “Al Aaraaf,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 92-127 (This material is protected by copyright)


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­[page 92:]

AL AARAAF

In May 1829 Poe wrote to Isaac Lea, of the publishers Carey, Lea & Carey:

I send you, for your tenderest consideration, a poem . . .

Its title is “Al Aaraaf” — from the Al Aaraaf of the Arabians, a medium between Heaven & Hell where men suffer no punishment, but yet do not attain that tranquil & even happiness which they suppose to be the characteristic of heavenly enjoyment . . .

I have placed this “Al Aaraaf” in the celebrated star discovered by Tycho Brahe which appeared & disappeared so suddenly — It is represented as a messenger star of the Deity, &, at the time of its discovery by Tycho, as on an embassy to our world. One of the peculiarities of Al Aaraaf is that, even after death, those who make choice of the star as their residence do not enjoy immortality — but, after a second life of high excitement, sink into forgetfulness, & death — This idea is taken from Job — “I would not live always — let me alone” . . . I have imagined some well known characters of the age of the star’s appearance, as transferred to Al Aaraaf — viz Michael Angelo — and others — of these Michael Angelo as yet, alone appears.

“Al Aaraaf” is the most difficult of Poe’s poems, as well as the longest. A. H. Quinn (p. 161) remarked well that Poe was not trying primarily to present his story clearly, but experimenting “in the translation of feeling into harmony . . . neither words nor feeling alone, but a blending of both.” Many lovers of poetry have read it with pleasure, for the sake of those “happy and melodious passages” in which, J. H. Ingram pointed out, “it abounds.”(1) Poe himself wrote to John Neal, sometime in October or November 1829: “Al Aaraaf has some good poetry and much extravagance which I have not had time to throw away.”

The poem as a whole has baffled so many readers — including such sympathetic lovers of Poe as E. C. Stedman and Charles W. Kent(2) — that it may be well to say at once that it has a definite, if ­[page 93:] not a well-told, story. This students of Poe have discovered — though hardly at first reading — to be not past finding out. The following scenario tells the story in plain prose.

PLOT

Part I. The ethereal beauty of the “wandering star” is described (1-15). The ruling angel Nesace bathes in the light of four suns (16-29) and prepares to pray (30-41). Her silent, hence spiritual, prayers are borne to heaven by the odors of the many flowers catalogued by the poet (42-81). The prayer expresses the angels’ obedience to God in seeking only beauty, not truth, which belongs to a higher heaven. His form is unknown, although man is made in His image in being intellectual (82-117). Nesace awaits in silence a divine command, through the music of the spheres, to visit other stars (133-150), which she prepares to obey (151-158).

Part II. A temple on a mountain is described (1-39), which Nesace enters (40-59) to sing a charm that summons her subjects (60-67). She invokes Ligeia, the music of Nature, to arouse the sleeping population of Al Aaraaf (68-155). The spirits assemble (156-173), save for two lovers (174-181). One of these, Angelo, on earth Michelangelo Buonarroti,(3) looks at his native planet (182-197) and tells his beloved Ianthe that he half wishes to return there (198-226). Ianthe (probably from another planet) says that the beauty of their present home and love should compensate him (227-230). Angelo seems to think that Earth was destroyed just after he left it (231-244), but Ianthe explains that it merely trembled (245-260). Ignoring Nesace’s orders, the inattentive lovers sleep forever (261-264).

The action definitely takes place in 1574, the year in which Tycho’s star faded from the ken of humanity, but Poe’s locale is ­[page 94:] a place that is not meant to fit into any system of cosmology save one that he imagined.

This, of course, is merely the story on the surface, like the “Arguments” which old-time authors sometimes provided for their epics. Poe’s poem is not primarily didactic or allegorical, for it surely has no carefully planned and consistent parallel meanings such as we seek in Dante or Spenser.

Nevertheless, it is not intended to be wholly without a message. Few will disagree with Vincent Buranelli, who calls Poe’s Al Aaraaf a dream world, the spiritual home of the poet, where the Platonic idea of absolute beauty is known directly instead of through earth’s imperfections.(4) Floyd Stovall argues, I think convincingly, that in “Al Aaraaf” Poe shadows forth a doctrine of poetry to which he adhered to the end.(5) The divine is known through beauty and power, best understood through the imagination.

To sum up briefly: Beauty is the sole object of poetry. Nesace is Beauty, Ligeia is Harmony, and through them the Will of God, or Truth, is imaginatively communicated to us, who are lacking in the complete knowledge given only to angels. True passion is too mundane for true poetry, and the intrusion of even the noble passion of love is fatal to the human spirits of Al Aaraaf. The poet also rejects an anthropomorphic idea of God, emphasizes His vastness and power (not merely in minor things like tempests), and His omnipresence. The doctrine at least verges on pantheism; spirit fills happy flowers, and even inanimate sculptures have flown in spirit to the new star.

Much of this appears again fancifully in the story of “The Fall of the House of Usher” in 1839. It has also been remarked that “Al Aaraaf” in a way foreshadows Eureka of 1848, but there Poe attempted to make his ideas conform to current scientific ideas, as he understood them. ­[page 95:]

SOURCES

When on May 29, 1829, Poe wrote John Allan to ask for money to subsidize the publication of his poem, he said that he no longer was a follower of Byron. It is plain enough that he now had two masters, an incongruous pair, John Milton and Thomas Moore. Poe’s poem has the obscurity of the first and more than the diffuseness of the second. The echoes are numerous from each, and the notes below might be increased by the citation of less striking parallels. These probably are not all unconscious; Poe was not yet so worried about such borrowings as he became later on. But he less often imitated Moore’s verses in Lalla Rookh and Loves of the Angels than he versified Moore’s footnotes. His own footnotes are modeled on those of Moore, and like them are sometimes more entertaining than the verses they accompany.

Poe also seems to have had in mind Vergil’s Georgics, IV, 221-227, where it is said that God pervades all things, earth, sea, and sky — that from Him men and animals draw life, and that when they die, He remakes their spirits — that there is no annihilation, but “they mount up each into his own order of star, and take their appointed seat in the heavens.” The direct quotation is from the motto used by Sarah Helen Whitman for a version of her poem “To Arcturus” in Graham’s Magazine for June 1850. In that poem she says that Poe chose

Thee, bright Arcturus! for our spirit home —

Our trysting star, where, while on earth’s cold clime,

Our mingling souls might meet in dreams sublime.

This is clearly based on some of Poe’s romantic fancies in conversing with his “Helen of a thousand dreams.” She removed the lines from later versions of the poem.

Poe presumably consulted Sale’s English version of the Koran, first published in 1734 and cited frequently by Moore in Lalla Rookh. The seventh chapter is called “Al Ârâf” and reads in part:

And between the blessed and the damned there shall be a veil; and men shall stand on al Araf, who shall know everyone of them by their marks; and shall call unto the inhabitants of paradise, saying, Peace be upon you; yet they shall not enter therein, although they earnestly desire it. And when they ­[page 96:] shall turn their eyes towards the companions of hell fire, they shall say, O Lord, place us not with the ungodly people!

Sale comments at length in his “Preliminary Discourse” and says there is

a wall or partition . . . between (Heaven) and Hell . . . They call it al Orf . . . in the plural al Araf, from . . . arafa . . . to distinguish between things or to part them; some . . . give another reason for the . . . name, because, say they, those who stand on this partition will know and distinguish the blessed from the damned . . . and others say the word . . . intends anything . . . high raised or elevated . . . The Mahometan writers . . . differ as to the persons . . . on al Araf. Some imagine it to be a sort of limbo, for the patriarchs and prophets, or for the martyrs, and those . . . most eminent for sanctity, among whom they say there will be also angels in the form of men. Others place here such whose good and evil works are so equal that they exactly counterpoise each other, and therefore deserve neither reward nor punishment and will, on the last day be admitted to paradise, after they perform an act of adoration, which will . . . make the scale of their good works to overbalance.

The italics are mine, and show what little Poe adopted. Poe’s Al Aaraaf is very different from what he found in Sale — it is not a wall between heaven and hell; it is not a place of sorrow, but contentment; its inhabitants are almost wholly amoral.

Poe also seems to have read up (probably in an encyclopedia) on Tycho Brahe and his new star. Tycho first noticed it on November 11, 1572, and published a book about it, De Nova Stella (Copenhagen, 1573). The star appeared near a rectangle of four stars in the constellation of Cassiopeia. It was already brighter (some thought) than Venus, and was at first white, then yellow, then red, and lastly of a leaden hue. It was visible for sixteen months, until in 1574 it faded away completely from human sight. The nova caused great excitement and, especially in its red phase, terror. Tycho, like almost all the old astronomers, was also an astrologer, and regarded it as of bad omen. Some of his contemporaries thought it a warning of the end of the world.

All this Poe treated almost as freely as he did his sources in the Koran and Sale. He takes from the historical record dates of the new star’s visit, its location in Cassiopeia, its colors, and the fear it aroused. The rest is almost(6) a pure fancy, as the introductory ­[page 97:] sonnet should warn us. The notion that the nova was guided by a spirit is pretty surely taken from an idea entertained by Sir Isaac Newton that comets were so directed. But Tycho, who took much interest in comets, did not believe his nova was one.

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Poe presumably composed “Al Aaraaf” while in the army. He turned up with it in Baltimore, and William Gwynn inserted an “Extract from ‘Al Aaraaf’ an Unpublished Poem” in his paper, the Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser, of May 18, 1829. Poe also submitted the manuscript to William Wirt, who read it at a sitting and wrote him a polite letter on May 11, 1829. Obviously the biographer of Patrick Henry was baffled by the poem. He assured the young author that he was himself of too old-fashioned taste to appreciate it, but that it would please the younger sort; Wirt called the notes “useful.” He recommended Poe to Robert Walsh, editor of the American Quarterly Review in Philadelphia, and to Joseph Hopkinson, who had written the lyrics of “Hail Columbia” in Washington’s time (1798).

Apparently Poe was recommended also to Isaac Lea of the firm of Carey, Lea & Carey, and wrote him a long letter (undated but docketed as answered on May 27), with a copy of the poem. Poe’s description of the plot of the poem is quoted above, but the following belongs here: “I send you parts 1rst, 2d, & 3d. I have reasons for wishing not to publish the 4th at present — for its character depends in a measure upon the success or failure of the others.” This passage led Quinn, whose handling of “Al Aaraaf” is generally admirable, to say (p. 144), “This shows that we do not have all of ‘Al Aaraaf.’ ” While Poe’s syntax is not clear, surely the fourth part to which he refers is something not yet written. The reference to a third part may be explained by the fact that, in the poem as it stands, Part II is much longer than Part I; there are breaks at II, 156, and II, 174, either one of which may have marked the beginning of a new part. Hence I believe none of “Al Aaraaf” is lost. ­[page 98:]

The upshot of it all, which may be followed in Poe’s correspondence, was that the Philadelphia publishers offered to bring the book out, if a guarantee of a hundred dollars were forthcoming; Poe tried to get the money from John Allan, who rebuffed him, not unexpectedly; and Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems was finally issued, without subsidy, very late in 1829 by Hatch and Dunning in Baltimore.

“Al Aaraaf,” from which a few lines, as we have seen, had been published in May 1829, was revised carefully before its appearance in book form late in the year. Poe made a few changes, almost all abortive, for the edition of 1831. In 1845 he sent as copy to the printers of The Raven and Other Poems a slightly revised version of the 1829 volume; a very few new changes were made in proof. The text printed in The Raven . . . was essentially the final version, though three or four special alterations were made for a reading of the poem in October 1845 and in illustrating meter in “The Rationale of Verse” about 1847.

My text is based on the text in The Raven and Other Poems (1845). I have added two accents (I, 114 and II, 20) and three or four minor corrections of spelling in Poe’s notes. Poe’s inconsistent spelling of words like “favo[u]r” has not been changed, nor have slightly incorrect forms of words found in his known sources. Poe marked his notes with printer’s signs, but I have used superscript numbers in parentheses. The copy of the Baltimore Gazette I have used is in the Maryland Historical Society; that of the Saturday Museum at the University of North Carolina; and that of the Portland Advertiser in the Library of Congress.

In addition to the texts mentioned in the list below, Poe made brief quotations from “Al Aaraaf” in the tale “Siope” (the first version of “Silence — A Fable”), published in the Baltimore Book for 1838; and in a review of Thomas Ward’s Passaic in Graham’s Magazine for March 1843. These show no verbal variations from our text.

 

TEXTS

(A) Baltimore Gazette, May 18, 1829 (extracts); (B) Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette, December 1829 (1:296-297), extracts; (C) Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, ­[page 99:] and Minor Poems (1829), pp. 13-38; (D) letter to John Neal, December 29, 1829 (extract, not in the fragment of the letter at the University of Texas), first published in Portland Daily Advertiser, April 26, 1850; (E) Poems (1831), pp. 83-108; (F) Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843 (extracts in H. B. Hirst’s sketch of Poe); (G) Graham’s Magazine for February 1845 (27-51), extract in J. R. Lowell’s sketch of Poe; (H) Broadway Journal, May 24, 1845 (1:330), extract in a review of William W. Lord’s Poems; (J) manuscript changes in Elizabeth Herring’s copy of Al Aaraaf . . . made in 1845 as printer’s copy for K; (J2) another set of manuscript changes made for Poe’s reading at Boston, October 16, 1845; (K) The Raven and Other Poems (1845) pp. 56-73; (L) manuscript fragment of “The Rationale of Verse” seen in the collection of Oliver Barrett (extract); (M) Southern Literary Messenger, October 1848 (14:585), extract in “The Rationale of Verse”; (N) manuscript of “A Reviewer Reviewed” owned by H. Bradley Martin (extracts); (P) Works (1850), II, 78-95; (Q) Works (1850), II, 235 (extract in “The Rationale of Verse”).

The extracts of A consist of II, 194-201, 214-220, 237-260 and footnotes 28 and 29; of B, I, 126-132 and II, 11-39; of D, I, 128-129; of F, I, 66-67, 70-79, 82-101, 126-129, and II, 20-21, 24-27, 52-55, 56-59, 68-135; of G, II, 100-111; of H, I, 50-56; of L, M, Q, II, 253-256; of N, II, 20-21 and 172-173.

The text followed is that of Poe’s volume of 1845 (K).

[[v]]

[[n]]

AL AARAAF (1) [K]

PART I

 

[[v]]

O! nothing earthly save the ray

(Thrown back from flowers) of Beauty’s eye,

As in those gardens where the day

[[n]]

Springs from the gems of Circassy —

5

O! nothing earthly save the thrill ­[page 100:]

Of melody in woodland rill —

Or (music of the passion-hearted)

Joy’s voice so peacefully departed

That like the murmur in the shell,

10

Its echo dwelleth and will dwell —

[[v]]

Oh, nothing of the dross of ours —

Yet all the beauty — all the flowers

That list our Love, and deck our bowers —

Adorn yon world afar, afar —

[[v]]

15

The wandering star.

 

[[n]]

’Twas a sweet time for Nesace — for there

[[n]]

Her world lay lolling on the golden air,

Near four bright suns — a temporary rest —

[[v]]

An oasis in desert of the blest.

20

Away — away — ’mid seas of rays that roll

Empyrean splendor o’er th’ unchained soul —

The soul that scarce (the billows are so dense)

Can struggle to its destin’d eminence —

To distant spheres, from time to time, she rode,

25

And late to ours, the favour’d one of God —

[[n]]

But, now, the ruler of an anchor’d realm,

She throws aside the sceptre — leaves the helm,

And, amid incense and high spiritual hymns,

Laves in quadruple light her angel limbs.

 

30

Now happiest, loveliest in yon lovely Earth,

[[n]]

Whence sprang the “Idea of Beauty” into birth,

(Falling in wreaths thro’ many a startled star,

Like woman’s hair ’mid pearls, until, afar,

[[v]]

[[n]]

It lit on hills Achaian, and there dwelt)

35

She look’d into Infinity — and knelt.

Rich clouds, for canopies, about her curled —

Fit emblems of the model of her world —

Seen but in beauty — not impeding sight ­[page 101:]

Of other beauty glittering thro’ the light —

40

A wreath that twined each starry form around,

And all the opal’d air in color bound.

 

[[n]]

All hurriedly she knelt upon a bed

[[v]]

Of flowers: of lilies such as rear’d the head

[[n]]

(2) On the fair Capo Deucato, and sprang

45

So eagerly around about to hang

[[n]]

Upon the flying footsteps of — deep pride —

[[n]]

(3) Of her who lov’d a mortal — and so died.

[[n]]

The Sephalica, budding with young bees,

Uprear’d its purple stem around her knees:

[[v]]

[[n]]

50

(4) And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnam’d —

Inmate of highest stars, where erst it sham’d

All other loveliness: its honied dew

(The fabled nectar that the heathen knew)

Deliriously sweet, was dropp’d from Heaven,

[[n]]

55

And fell on gardens of the unforgiven

In Trebizond — and on a sunny flower

So like its own above that, to this hour,

It still remaineth, torturing the bee

With madness, and unwonted reverie:

60

In Heaven, and all its environs, the leaf

And blossom of the fairy plant, in grief

[[v]]

Disconsolate linger — grief that hangs her head,

Repenting follies that full long have fled,

Heaving her white breast to the balmy air,

65

Like guilty beauty, chasten’d, and more fair: ­[page 102:]

[[n]]

Nyctanthes too, as sacred as the light

She fears to perfume, perfuming the night:

(5) And Clytia pondering between many a sun,

While pettish tears adown her petals run:

70

(6) And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth —

And died, ere scarce exalted into birth,

Bursting its odorous heart in spirit to wing

Its way to Heaven, from garden of a king:

(7) And Valisnerian lotus thither flown

75

From struggling with the waters of the Rhone:

[[n]]

(8) And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante!

[[v]]

Isola d’oro! — Fior di Levante!

(9) And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever

With Indian Cupid down the holy river —

80

Fair flowers, and fairy! to whose care is given

(10) To bear the Goddess’ song, in odors, up to Heaven:

“Spirit! that dwellest where,

In the deep sky,

The terrible and fair,

85

In beauty vie!

Beyond the line of blue —

The boundary of the star

[[v]]

Which turneth at the view ­[page 103:]

Of thy barrier and thy bar —

[[n]]

90

Of the barrier overgone

By the comets who were cast

From their pride, and from their throne

To be drudges till the last —

To be carriers of fire

[[v]]

95

(The red fire of their heart)

With speed that may not tire

And with pain that shall not part —

[[n]]

Who livest — that we know —

In Eternity — we feel —

[[n]]

100

But the shadow of whose brow

What spirit shall reveal?

Tho’ the beings whom thy Nesace,

Thy messenger hath known

[[v]]

[[n]]

Have dream’d for thy Infinity

[[v]]

105

(11) A model of their own —

[[n]]

Thy will is done, Oh, God!

The star hath ridden high

Thro’ many a tempest, but she rode ­[page 104:]

Beneath thy burning eye;

110

And here, in thought, to thee —

In thought that can alone

[[n]]

Ascend thy empire and so be

A partner of thy throne —

[[v]]

(12) By wingéd Fantasy,

[[n]]

115

My embassy is given,

Till secrecy shall knowledge be

In the environs of Heaven.”

 

[[n]]

She ceas’d — and buried then her burning cheek

Abash’d, amid the lilies there, to seek

120

A shelter from the fervour of His eye;

For the stars trembled at the Deity.

She stirr’d not — breath’d not — for a voice was there

[[n]]

How solemnly pervading the calm air!

A sound of silence on the startled ear

[[n]]

125

Which dreamy poets name “the music of the sphere.”

[[v]]

Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call

[[v]]

[[n]]

“Silence” — which is the merest word of all.

[[v]]

All Nature speaks, and ev’n ideal things

Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings —

[[v]]

130

But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high

[[v]]

The eternal voice of God is passing by,

And the red winds are withering in the sky!

 

(13) “What tho’ in worlds which sightless cycles run,

Link’d to a little system, and one sun —

135

Where all my love is folly and the crowd

Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud, ­[page 105:]

The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath —

(Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?)

What tho’ in worlds which own a single sun

[[n]]

140

The sands of Time grow dimmer as they run,

Yet thine is my resplendency, so given

To bear my secrets thro’ the upper Heaven.

[[n]]

Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly,

With all thy train, athwart the moony sky —

145

(14) Apart — like fire-flies in Sicilian night,

And wing to other worlds another light!

Divulge the secrets of thy embassy

To the proud orbs that twinkle — and so be

To ev’ry heart a barrier and a ban

[[n]]

150

Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!”

 

Up rose the maiden in the yellow night,

The single-mooned eve! — on Earth we plight

Our faith to one love — and one moon adore —

The birth-place of young Beauty had no more.

155

As sprang that yellow star from downy hours

Up rose the maiden from her shrine of flowers,

And bent o’er sheeny mountain and dim plain

(15) Her way — but left not yet her Therasæan reign.

 

PART II

 

[[n]]

High on a mountain of enamell’d head —

[[n]]

Such as the drowsy shepherd on his bed

Of giant pasturage lying at his ease,

Raising his heavy eyelid, starts and sees,

5

With many a mutter’d “hope to be forgiven”

What time the moon is quadrated in Heaven —[page 106:]

Of rosy head, that towering far away

Into the sunlit ether, caught the ray

Of sunken suns at eve — at noon of night,

[[n]]

10

While the moon danc’d with the fair stranger light —

Uprear’d upon such height arose a pile

[[v]]

Of gorgeous columns on th’ unburthen’d air,

[[n]]

Flashing from Parian marble that twin smile

Far down upon the wave that sparkled there,

15

And nursled the young mountain in its lair.

(16) Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall

[[n]]

Thro’ the ebon air, besilvering the pall

Of their own dissolution, while they die —

Adorning then the dwellings of the sky.

[[v]]

[[n]]

20

A dome, by linkéd light from Heaven let down,

Sat gently on these columns as a crown —

A window of one circular diamond, there,

[[v]]

Look’d out above into the purple air,

And rays from God shot down that meteor chain

25

And hallow’d all the beauty twice again,

Save when, between th’ Empyrean and that ring,

Some eager spirit flapp’d his dusky wing.

But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen

[[n]]

The dimness of this world: that greyish green

30

That Nature loves the best for Beauty’s grave

[[n]]

Lurk’d in each cornice, round each architrave —

And every sculptur’d cherub thereabout

That from his marble dwelling peeréd out,

Seem’d earthly in the shadow of his niche —

[[n]]

35

Achaian statues in a world so rich? ­[page 107:]

[[n]]

(17) Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis —

[[v]]

From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss

[[v]]

[[n]]

(18) Of beautiful Gomorrah! O, the wave

Is now upon thee — but too late to save!

 

[[v]]

[[n]]

40

Sound loves to revel in a summer night:

Witness the murmur of the grey twilight

[[n]]

(19) That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco,

Of many a wild star-gazer long ago —

That stealeth ever on the ear of him

45

Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim.

And sees the darkness coming as a cloud —

(20) Is not its form — its voice — most palpable and loud?

 

But what is this? — it cometh — and it brings

A music with it — ’tis the rush of wings —

50

A pause — and then a sweeping, falIing strain

And Nesace is in her halls again. ­[page 108:]

From the wild energy of wanton haste

[[v]]

Her cheeks were flushing, and her lips apart;

[[v]]

[[n]]

And zone that clung around her gentle waist

55

Had burst beneath the heaving of her heart.

[[v]]

Within the centre of that hall to breathe

[[n]]

She paus’d and panted, Zanthe! all beneath,

[[v]]

The fairy light that kiss’d her golden hair

And long’d to rest, yet could but sparkle there!

 

[[n]]

60

(21) Young flowers were whispering in melody

To happy flowers that night — and tree to tree;

Fountains were gushing music as they fell

In many a star-lit grove, or moon-lit dell;

Yet silence came upon material things —

65

Fair flowers, bright waterfalls and angel wings —

And sound alone that from the spirit sprang

[[n]]

Bore burthen to the charm the maiden sang:

“ ‘Neath blue-bell or streamer —

Or tufted wild spray

70

That keeps, from the dreamer,

[[n]]

(22) The moonbeam away —

[[n]]

Bright beings! that ponder,

With half closing eyes,

On the stars which your wonder

75

Hath drawn from the skies,

Till they glance thro’ the shade, and

[[v]]

Come down to your brow

Like — eyes of the maiden

Who calls on you now —

[[n]]

80

Arise! from your dreaming

In violet bowers, ­[page 109:]

To duty beseeming

These star-litten hours —

And shake from your tresses

[[n]]

85

Encumber’d with dew

The breath of those kisses

That cumber them too —

[[n]]

(O! how, without you, Love!

Could angels be blest?)

90

Those kisses of true love

That lull’d ye to rest!

[[v]]

Up! — shake from your wing

[[v]]

Each hindering thing:

The dew of the night —

[[v]]

95

It would weigh down your flight;

And true love caresses —

O! leave them apart!

They are light on the tresses,

[[v]]

But lead on the heart.

 

[[n]]

100

Ligeia! Ligeia!

My beautiful one!

Whose harshest idea

Will to melody run,

[[v]]

O! is it thy will

105

On the breezes to toss?

Or, capriciously still,

(23) Like the lone Albatross,

[[n]]

Incumbent on night

(As she on the air)

110

To keep watch with delight

On the harmony there?

 

[[n]]

Ligeia! wherever ­[page 110:]

[[v]]

Thy image may be,

No magic shall sever

115

Thy music from thee.

Thou hast bound many eyes

[[v]]

In a dreamy sleep —

But the strains still arise

Which thy vigilance keep —

120

The sound of the rain

[[v]]

Which leaps down to the flower,

And dances again

In the rhythm of the shower —

[[n]]

(24) The murmur that springs

125

From the growing of grass

Are the music of things —

[[n]]

But are modell’d, alas! —

Away, then my dearest,

O! hie thee away

130

To springs that lie clearest

Beneath the moon-ray —

[[n]]

To lone lake that smiles,

In its dream of deep rest,

[[v]]

[[n]]

At the many star-isles

135

That enjewel its breast —

Where wild flowers, creeping,

Have mingled their shade,

On its margin is sleeping

Full many a maid —

140

Some have left the cool glade, and

(25) Have slept with the bee —

Arouse them my maiden,

On moorland and lea — ­[page 111:]

Go! breathe on their slumber,

145

All softly in ear,

The musical number

They slumber’d to hear —

For what can awaken

An angel so soon

150

Whose sleep hath been taken

Beneath the cold moon,

As the spell which no slumber

Of witchery may test,

The rhythmical number

155

Which lull’d him to rest?”

 

Spirits in wing, and angels to the view,

A thousand seraphs burst th’ Empyrean thro’,

Young dreams still hovering on their drowsy flight —

[[n]]

Seraphs in all but “Knowledge,” the keen light

160

That fell, refracted, thro’ thy bounds, afar

[[n]]

O Death! from eye of God upon that star:

Sweet was that error — sweeter still that death —

Sweet was that error — ev’n with us the breath

Of Science dims the mirror of our joy —

[[n]]

165

To them ’twere the Simoon, and would destroy —

For what (to them) availeth it to know

[[n]]

That Truth is Falsehood — or that Bliss is Woe?

Sweet was their death — with them to die was rife

With the last ecstasy of satiate life —

170

Beyond that death no immortality

[[n]]

But sleep that pondereth and is not “to be” —

[[n]]

And there — oh! may my weary spirit dwell —

(26) Apart from Heaven’s Eternity — and yet how far from Hell! ­[page 112:]

What guilty spirit, in what shrubbery dim,

175

Heard not the stirring summons of that hymn?

[[n]]

But two: they fell: for Heaven no grace imparts

To those who hear not for their beating hearts.

A maiden-angel and her seraph-lover —

O! where (and ye may seek the wide skies over)

180

Was Love, the blind, near sober Duty known?

[[n]]

(27) Unguided Love hath fallen — ’mid “tears of perfect moan.”

 

He was a goodly spirit — he who fell:

[[v]]

A wanderer by moss-y-mantled well —

A gazer on the lights that shine above —

185

A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love:

What wonder? for each star is eye-like there,

And looks so sweetly down on Beauty’s hair —

And they, and ev’ry mossy spring were holy

To his love-haunted heart and melancholy.

190

The night had found (to him a night of wo)

[[n]]

Upon a mountain crag, young Angelo —

Beetling it bends athwart the solemn sky,

And scowls on starry worlds that down beneath it lie.

Here sate he with his love — his dark eye bent

195

With eagle gaze along the firmament:

[[v]]

Now turn’d it upon her — but ever then

[[v]]

[[n]]

It trembled to the orb of EARTH again. ­[page 113:]

[[n]]

“Ianthe, dearest, see! how dim that ray!

How lovely ’tis to look so far away!

200

She seem’d not thus upon that autumn eve

[[v]]

[[n]]

I left her gorgeous halls — nor mourn’d to leave.

That eve — that eve — I should remember well —

[[n]]

The sun-ray dropp’d, in Lemnos, with a spell

On th’ Arabesque carving of a gilded hall

[[v]]

205

Wherein I sate, and on the draperied wall —

And on my eye-lids — O the heavy light!

How drowsily it weigh’d them into night!

On flowers, before, and mist, and love they ran

[[n]]

With Persian Saadi in his Gulistan:

[[n]]

210

But O that light! — I slumber’d — Death, the while,

Stole o’er my senses in that lovely isle

So softly that no single silken hair

[[v]]

Awoke that slept — or knew that he was there.

 

[[v]]

The last spot of Earth’s orb I trod upon

[[v]]

215

(28) Was a proud temple call’d the Parthenon —

[[v]]

More beauty clung around her column’d wall

[[v]]

(29) Than ev’n thy glowing bosom beats withal,

And when old Time my wing did disenthral

[[v]]

[[n]]

Thence sprang I — as the eagle from his tower,

220

And years I left behind me in an hour.

What time upon her airy bounds I hung

[[n]]

One half the garden of her globe was flung

Unrolling as a chart unto my view —

Tenantless cities of the desert too!

225

Ianthe, beauty crowded on me then,

[[v]]

And half I wish’d to be again of men.” ­[page 114:]

“My Angelo! and why of them to be?

A brighter dwelling-place is here for thee —

And greener fields than in yon world above,

230

And woman’s loveliness — and passionate love.”

 

“But, list, Ianthe! when the air so soft

(30) Fail’d, as my pennon’d spirit leapt aloft,

Perhaps my brain grew dizzy — but the world

I left so late was into chaos hurl’d —

235

Sprang from her station, on the winds apart,

And roll’d, a flame, the fiery Heaven athwart.

[[v]]

Methought, my sweet one, then I ceased to soar

And fell — not swiftly as I rose before,

But with a downward, tremulous motion thro’

240

Light, brazen rays, this golden star unto!

Nor long the measure of my falling hours,

For nearest of all stars was thine to ours —

[[v]]

Dread star! that came, amid a night of mirth,

[[n]]

A red Dædalion on the timid Earth.

 

[[v]]

245

“We came — and to thy Earth — but not to us

Be given our lady’s bidding to discuss:

We came, my love; around, above, below,

Gay fire-fly of the night we come and go,

Nor ask a reason save the angel-nod

[[v]]

250

She grants to us, as granted by her God —

[[v]]

But, Angelo, than thine grey Time unfurl’d

Never his fairy wing o’er fairier world!

[[v]]

[[n]]

Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes

Alone could see the phantom in the skies, ­[page 115:]

[[v]]

[[n]]

255

When first Al Aaraaf knew her course to be

[[v]]

Headlong thitherward o’er the starry sea —

But when its glory swell’d upon the sky,

As glowing Beauty’s bust beneath man’s eye,

We paus’d before the heritage of men,

[[v]]

260

And thy star trembled — as doth Beauty then!”

 

Thus, in discourse, the lovers whiled away

[[n]]

The night that waned and waned and brought no day.

They fell: for Heaven to them no hope imparts

Who hear not for the beating of their hearts.

[1829-1845]

 


[[Poe’s Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear near the bottom of page 99:]

(1)  A star was discovered by Tycho Brahe which appeared suddenly in the heavens — attained, in a few days, a brilliancy surpassing that of Jupiter — then as suddenly disappeared, and has never been seen since. [Poe’s note]

[The following footnotes appear near the bottom of page 101:]

(2)  On Santa Maura — olim Deucadia. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(3)  Sappho. [Poe’s note]

(4)  This flower is much noticed by Lewenhoeck and Tournefort. The bee, finding upon its blossom, becomes intoxicated. [Poe’s note]

[The following footnotes appear near the bottom of page 102:]

(5)  Clytia — The Chrysanthemum Peruvianum, or, to employ a better-known term, the turnsol — which turns continually towards the sun, covers itself, like Peru, the country from which it comes, with dewy clouds which cool and refresh its flowers during the most violent heat of the day. — B. de St. Pierre. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(6)  There is cultivated in the king’s garden at Paris, a species of serpentine aloes without prickles, whose large and beautiful flower exhales a strong odour of the vanilla, during the time of its expansion, which is very short. It does not blow till towards the month of July — you then perceive it gradually open its petals — expand them — fade and die. — St. Pierre. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(7)  There is found, in the Rhone, a beautiful lily of the Valisnerian kind. Its stem will stretch to the length of three or four feet — thus preserving its head above water in the swellings of the river. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(8)  The Hyacinth. [Poe’s note]

(9)  It is a fiction of the Indians, that Cupid was first seen floating in one of these down the river Ganges — and that he still loves the cradle of his childhood. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(10)  And golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of the saints. — Rev[.] St. John. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnotes appear near the bottom of page 103:]

(11)  The Humanitarians held that God was to be understood as having really a human form. — Vide Clarke’s Sermons, vol. I, page 26, fol. edit.

The drift of Milton’s argument, leads him to employ language which would appear, at first sight, to verge upon their doctrine; but it will be seen immediately, that he guards himself against the charge of having adopted one of the most ignorant errors of the dark ages of the church. — Dr. Sumner’s Notes on Milton’s Christian Doctrine.

This opinion, in spite of many testimonies to the contrary, could never have been very general. Audeus, a Syrian of Mesopotamia, was condemned for the opinion, as heretical. He lived in the beginning of the fourth century. His disciples were called Anthropomorphites. — Vide Du Pin.

Among Milton’s minor poems are these lines: —

Dicite sacrorum præsides nemorum Deæ, &c.

Quis ille primus cujus ex imagine

Natura solers finxit humanum genus?

Eternus, incorruptus, æquævus polo,

Unusque et universus exemplar Dei. — And afterwards,

Non cui profundum Cæcitas lumen dedit

Dircæus augur vidit hunc alto sinu,&c. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 104:]

(12)  Seltsamen Tochter Jovis

Seinem Schosskinde

Der Phantasie. — Goethe. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(13)  Sightless — too small to be seen — Legge. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnotes appear near the bottom of page 105:]

(14)  I have often noticed a peculiar movement of the fire-flies: — they will collect in a body and fly off, from a common centre, into innumerable radii. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(15)  Therasæa, or Therasea, the island mentioned by Seneca, which, in a moment, arose from the sea to the eyes of astonished mariners. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 106:]

(16)  Some star which, from the ruin’d roof

Of shak’d Olympus, by mischance, did fall. — Milton [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 107:]

(17)  Voltaire, in speaking of Persepolis, says, “Je connois bien 1’admiration qu’inspirent ces ruines — mais un palais erigé an pied d’une chaine des rockers steril — speut il être on chef d’œuvre des arts!” [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(18)  “Oh! the wave” — Ula Deguisi is the Turkish appellation; but, on its own shores, it is called Bahar Loth, or Almotanah. There were undoubtedly more than two cities engulphed in the “dead sea.” In the valley of Siddim were five — Adrah, Zeboin, Zoar, Sodom and Gomorrah. Stephen of Byzantium mentions eight, and Strabo thirteen, (engulphed) — but the last is out of all reason.

It is said, (Tacitus, Strabo, Josephus, Daniel of St. Saba, Nan, Maundrell, Troilo, D’Arvieux) that after an excessive drought, the vestiges of columns, walls, &c. are seen above the surface. At any season, such remains may be discovered by looking down into the transparent lake, and at such distances as would argue the existence of many settlements in the space now usurped by the ‘Asphaltites.’ [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(19)  Eyraco — Chaldea. [Poe’s note]

(20)  I have often thought I could distinctly hear the sound of the darkness as it stole over the horizon. [Poe’s note]

[The following footnotes appear near the bottom of page 108:]

(21)  Fairies use flowers for their charactery. — Merry Wives of Windsor. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(22)  In Scripture is this passage — “The sun shall not harm thee by day, nor the moon by night.” It is perhaps not generally known that the moon, in Egypt, has the effect of producing blindness to those who sleep with the face exposed to its rays, to which circumstance the passage evidently alludes. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 109:]

(23)  The Albatross is said to sleep on the wing. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 110:]

(24)  I met with this idea in an old English tale, which I am now unable to obtain and quote from memory: — “The verie essence and, as it were, springeheade and origine of all musiche is the verie pleasaunte sounde which the trees of the forest do make when they growe.” [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 110, running to the bottom of page 111:]

(25)  The wild bee will not sleep in the shade if there be moonlight.

The rhyme in this verse, as in one about sixty lines before, has an appearance ­[page 111:] of affectation. It is, however, imitated from Sir W. Scott, or rather from Claud Halcro — in whose mouth I admired its effect:

O! were there an island,

Tho’ ever so wild

Where woman might smile, and

No man be beguil’d, &c. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 111, running to the bottom of page 112:]

(26)  With the Arabians there is a medium between Heaven and Hell, where men ­[page 112:] suffer no punishment, but yet do not attain that tranquil and even happiness which they suppose to be characteristic of heavenly enjoyment.

Un no rompido sueno —

Un dia puro — allegre — libre

Quiera —

Libre de amor — de zelo —

De odio — de esperanza — de rezelo. — Luis Ponce de Leon.

Sorrow is not excluded from “Al Aaraaf,” but it is that sorrow which the living love to cherish for the dead, and which, in some minds, resembles the delirium of opium. The passionate excitement of Love and the buoyancy of spirit attendant upon intoxication are its less holy pleasures — the price of which, to those souls who make choice of “Al Aaraaf” as their residence after life, is final death and annihilation. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(27)  There be tears of perfect moan

Wept for thee in Helicon. — Milton. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnotes appear near the bottom of page 113:]

(28)  It was entire in 1687 — the most elevated spot in Athens. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

(29)  Shadowing more beauty in their airy brows

Than have the white breasts of the Queen of Love. — Marlowe. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 114:]

(30)  Pennon — for pinion. — Milton. [Poe’s note]   [[n]]

 


VARIANTS

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 99:]

Introductory Note:  Al Aaraaf, among the Arabians, a medium between Heaven and Hell, is supposed to be located in the celebrated star discovered by Tycho Brahe, which burst forth in one night upon the eyes of the world, and disappeared as suddenly. — Michael Angelo is represented as transferred to this star, and speaking to the “lady of his unearthly love” of the regions he had left. (A)

A star was discovered by Tycho Brahe which burst forth, in a moment, with a splendor surpassing that of Jupiter — then gradually faded away and became invisible to the naked eye. (C, E)

1-15  Twenty-nine lines, substituted in 1831 (E), are given below at pages 159-160 as “Mysterious Star.”

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 100:]

11  Oh / With (C); Ah! (J)

15  wandering / Messenger (J2)

19  An oasis / A garden-spot (C, E, J)

34  Achaian / Archaian (C)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 101:]

43  rear’d / rear (C, E)

50  misnam’d / misnamed (C, E)

50-56  These lines are condensed thus in H:

————— a gemmy flower,

Inmate of highest stars, where erst it shamed

All other loveliness: — ’twas dropped from Heaven

And fell on gardens of the unforgiven

In Trebizond.

62  head / he (broken type E)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 102:]

77  Isola / I sola (misprint C)

82-101  These lines have a special title: SPIRITS INVOCATION (F)

88  Which / That (F)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 103:]

95  red fire / fire (E)

105  dream’d / dreamed (E)

105 Note 11  Sumner’s / Summers’ (misprint E); two errors in all old texts, Andeus and anthropmorphites are corrected editorially.

[The following variants appears at the bottom of page 104:]

114  wingéd / wing’d (E)

114 Note 12  Goethe / Göethe (K) corrected from C and E

126  Before this — Silence is the voice of God — (B)

127  merest / veriest (F)

128  All / Here (B, C, E, F), There (D); ev’n / even (D, F)

130  thus, in / in the (B)

131  passing / moving (B)

[The following variant appears at the bottom of page 105:]

145 Note 14  fire-flies / firefly (C, E)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 106:]

12  unburthen’d / unburthened (B)

20  dome / so first written, changed to chain, then changed back to dome (N); linkéd [accent added from F, since Poe’s intention is clearly a dissyllable] / linked in all texts save F

23  Look’d / Looked (E)

27  his / a (B)

31  Lurk’d / Lurked (B)

32  every / ev’ry (C, E)

33  peeréd / ventured (B, C); peered (E)

34  Seemed / Seemed (B)

35  Achaian / Archaian (B, C)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 107:]

36 Note 17  In C Poe added at end: Voila les argumens de M. Voltaire! He omitted the whole note in E

37  the / thy (E, J)

37-39  There are seven lines in B:

From Balbec and the stilly, clear abyss

Of beautiful Gomorrah! — oh! the wave

Is now upon thee — but too late to save!

Far down within the crystal of the lake

Thy swollen pillars tremble — and so quake

The hearts of many wanderers who look in

Thy luridness of beauty — and of sin.

38  Of / Too (E, J)

40  in / near (C, E, changed in J)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 108:]

53  cheeks were / cheek was (C, E, F)

54  around / about (F)

56  that / this (F)

58  fairy / brilliant (F)

77  Come / And come (F)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 108:]

92  wing / wings (F)

93  Each hindering thing / All hindering things (F)

95  would / will (F)

99  lead / hang (C, E)

104  O! / Say (F, G)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 110:]

113  Thy / Thine (F)

117  In a / In a deep (F)

121  Which / That (F)

134  many / myriad (F)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 112:]

183  moss-y-mantled / mossy-mantled (E)

196  turn’d / turned (A)

197  the orb of Earth / one constant star (A, C, E)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 113:]

201  mourn’d / mourun’d (misprint E)

205  draperied / drapried (C, E)

213  he / it (C, E)

214  Earth’s / her (A)

215  proud temple call’d the / fair temple called (A)

215 Note 28  spot / building (A)

216  column’d / columned (A)

217  ev’n / even (A)

219  sprang / sprung (A)

226  wish’d / wished (E)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 114:]

237  my sweet one / Ianthe (A); ceased / ceas’d (A, C, E)

243  a / their (A)

245  and to thy earth / my Angelo (A)

250  grants to us, as granted / gives to us as given (A)

251  Angelo, than thine / truly, Angelo (A)

253  angel / seraph (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 114:]

255  Al Aaraaf knew her course / Tophet-Nour knew her course (J2); the phantom’s course was found (L, M, Q)

256  thitherward / hitherward (L, M, Q)

260  This line, the last in A, is followed by MARLOW which has been taken for a signature, but was merely misplaced by the printer from the end of note 29.

 


[page 115, continued:]

NOTES

Title:  Al is the Arabic definite article. Aaraaf is the way some scholars in Poe’s day transliterated what usually is now written Ârâf. It is trochaic in II, 255, but Poe’s pronunciation is not recorded. Whether his idea of placing his spirit home in the star was entirely his own is not quite certain.

Part I

4  Circassy, or Circassia, the region of the Caucasus whence came the blonde beauties so much admired in Turkey, was also believed to be rich in precious stones. See also the opening of the 1831 version of “Al Aaraaf,” I, 14.

16  Nesace (Nēsakē) means “lady of an island” (nēsos) and, although not actually recorded from any ancient text, is a possible form. A learned colleague points out such parallels as skiakos (shadowy) and Korinthiakos. Moore remarks in a note on his Loves of the Angels that “a belief that the stars are either spirits. or the vehicles of spirits, was common to all the religions and heresies of the East.” Nesace is the presiding spirit of a star; her realm is compared to an island (Therasaea) in “Al Aaraaf,” I, 158. It is just possible that a pun on Latin necesse may also be intended. Older suggestions, that Nesace is “a form of Nausicaa” or “an anagram of Seneca,” may now be dismissed; neither had any point.

17-30  The “four bright suns” and “quadruple light” (line 29) refer to the rectangle of four stars in Cassiopeia near which Tycho’s nova appeared. Poe’s heavenly body is treated here as if it were a planet and (in line 30) is actually called “yon lovely Earth.” ­[page 116:]

26-27  The metaphor is of Al Aaraaf as a ship anchored, at rest and not traveling, the captain of which, Nesace, ceases for a time to steer it.

31  The poet here seems to imply that his Al Aaraaf is the home of Plato’s “ideal” beauty.

34  “Achaian,” from Achaea in the Peloponnesus, is used for “Hellenic.” In the edition of 1829 the word, here and at II, 85, is spelled “Archaian.” That word means ancient and may have been the poet’s intention.

42-47  Poe uses the familiar legend that the lyric poet Sappho leapt into the sea for love of Phaon, told in Ovid’s fifteenth Epistle, translated by Alexander Pope as “Sappho to Phaon,” and recounted in Thomas Moore’s Evenings in Greece, I, 131ff. and the notes thereon. (Actually the leap from the Leucadian cliff, 114 feet into deep water, was not always fatal. It was made by the lyre player Sappho of Mitylene. The poet, although a resident of Mitylene, was properly Sappho of Eresus, her birthplace. The statements of Suidas in his Lexicon s.v. Sappho. Phaon, are confirmed by the coins of Eresus.)

42-43  Moore (citing William Goodisson, A Historical . . . Essay upon the Islands of Corfu, Leucadia . . . the Ionian Islands, London, 1822) says (lines 147-151) that there are

. . . scented lilies found

Still blooming on that fearful place

As if call’d up by Love, to grace

The immortal spot, o’er which the last

Bright footsteps of his martyr pass’d!

That they sprang up to restrain her seems to be Poe’s own addition to the legend.

44 Note 2:  Santa Maura was the Italian name, used for centuries, of the island off the western coast of Greece called by the ancients from its white cliffs Leucas or Leucadia and now Levkadi. The Italian name for the southern promontory of the island was Capo Ducato; it is now called Akra Deucaton. Poe’s spellings Deucato and Deucadia are obviously possible variants, but his exact source for them has not been found.

46  The “deep pride” lay in self-immolation for love.

47  The poetess Sappho is referred to by Plato and Plutarch as the “tenth muse” and so herself is a goddess. Poe makes allusion in “Israfel” to the seventh of the Pleiades, who lost her immortality by loving a mortal. Clearly Poe, like most of the ancient and modern poets from Ovid to Moore, accepted the fable that the great lyric poetess was the Sappho who leaped from the Leucadian cliff.

48  In a note to Lalla Rookh, Moore quotes Sir William Jones (“Botanical Observations on Select Indian Plants,” in his Works [London, 1807], V, 72f.): “My Pandits assure me that the plant before us (the Nilica) is their Sephalica, thus named because the bees are supposed to sleep on its blossoms.”

50-59  In another note to Lalla Rookh, Moore “quotes” Tournefort: “There is a kind of Rhododendros about Trebizonde, whose flowers the bee feeds ­[page 117:] upon, and the honey thence drives men mad.” Moore’s source is Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708), A Voyage into the Levant (London, 1741), III, 66f. The work of this great French botanist was originally published at Lyons in 1717. Poe’s surely secondary source for the interest of Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), the inventor of the microscope, has not yet been found. The plant is the Azalea pontica; animals feeding upon it go temporarily mad, and honey made from it is poisonous.

55-56  The city of Trebizond (in ancient times Trapezus) and the district on the Black Sea named for it were famous for gardens, but it is regrettable that Poe gave no note on “the unforgiven,” who is admittedly obscure. I think the allusion is to the wily Mithradates Eupator, King of Pontus, whose dominions included Trapezus; he took an interest in magic, had reputedly made himself immune to poisons, and was certainly unforgiven by his archenemies, the Romans, who finally suppressed him in 63 B. C.

66  Moore has a footnote to Lalla Rookh about “The sorrowful nyctanthes, which begins to spread its rich odour after sunset.” The sephalica (see line 48) is, according to Sir William Jones, a species of nyctanthes. Jones also says that Linnaeus designates the sephalica as the “sorrowful nyctanthes.” It is also mentioned in Poe’s “Letter to B—.”

68, 70 Notes 5, 6:  Both notes come almost verbatim from Henry Hunter’s translation of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s Études de la Nature (Studies of Nature, Philadelphia, 1808), II, 71.

74 Note 7:  This is quoted more freely from the same Study (the eleventh), page 146 in the translation. Poe preserves the incorrect spelling of Vallisnerian as he does in his “1002nd Tale of Scheherezade.”

76-77  Poe is here using a passage in Chateaubriand’s Itinéraire de Paris à Jèrusalem, which he read in F. Shoberl’s translation, Travels in Greece, Palestine, Egypt, and Barbary (Philadelphia edition, 1813, p. 62): “I subscribe to its appellations of Isola d’oro and Fior de Levante . . . The hyacinth came from Zante, and . . . this island received its name from the flower.” Poe used the material more fully in 1836 in his sonnet “To Zante.” The Italian phrases mean “Island of gold” and “Flower of the Levant.” See the notes on “To Helen” and on “Irene” for Poe’s references to several stories about hyacinths.

78 Note 9:  Moore has a note on Lalla Rookh: “The Indians feign that Cupid was first seen floating down the Ganges on the Nymphaea Nelumbo. See Pennant.” Thomas Pennant (1726-1798), a Welsh naturalist and antiquarian, used an old-fashioned scientific name but clearly meant the sacred lotus. Poe almost surely also knew a poem by Letitia E. Landon — “Manmadin, the Indian Cupid, riding down the Ganges” — in which she says, “Pillow’d on a lotus flower / . . . Rides he o’er the mountain wave.” Modern authorities write of Manmatha (“confusing”) as an attributive name of Camdeo or Kamadeva (“god of desire”), which is the Indian equivalent of the Greeks’ Eros, the Cupido of the Romans.

81 Note 10:  The slightly inaccurate quotation is from Revelation 5:8. ­[page 118:]

90-95  The comets here are fallen angels, punished by having to carry fire in their hearts. The exact source of the idea in “Al Aaraaf” has not been found.

98-99  Killis Campbell (Poems, page 178) compares Byron’s Manfred, III, iv, 125-126: “Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel; / Thou never shalt possess me, that I know.”

100-101  The question expects a negative answer.

104  Wilbur, Poe (1959), p. 126, thinks Nesace apologizes for poets (perhaps Milton in particular) who meddle with theology and seem to give God a human appearance.

105 Note 11:  Poe quotes the first two paragraphs from Charles R. Sumner’s notes on Milton’s Treatise of Christian Doctrine, I, 22 of the Boston edition (1825). The reference to the sermons of the Reverend Samuel Clarke is given by Sumner from the edition of Clarke’s Works (1738) in four volumes, folio. The Sumner references to Clarke were quoted again by Poe in a review of John Gardiner Calkins Brainard in Graham’s Magazine for February 1842, where Poe remarked that “bestowing upon Deity a human form is . . . low and most unideal.”

Audaeus, a Mesopotamian by birth, founded his sect in Syria about A. D. 338. He died during the reign of Valentinian I. Louis-Ellies DuPin (1657-1719) was a Frenchman who wrote most voluminously on ancient and modern history. I doubt that Poe used him at first hand.

Cowper renders the lines from “De idea platonica” thus:

Ye sister powers, who o’er the sacred groves

Preside . . . inform us who is He,

That great original, by nature chosen

To be the archetype of human kind,

Unchangeable, immortal, with the poles

Themselves coëval, one, yet everywhere

An image of the god who gave him being? . . .

 

Never the Theban seer, whose blindness proved

His best illumination, him beheld

In secret vision.

106  Compare “Thy will be done” in the Lord’s Prayer.

112-113  The allusion is to Revelation 3:21: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.”

114 Note 12:  The German is from Goethe’s “Meine Goettin” (written September 15, 1780), lines 7-9. It is given in George Bancroft’s “Life and Genius of Goethe” in the North American Review for October 1824. Bancroft rendered Goethe’s lines rather freely, “Dearest in her father’s eye, / Jove’s own darling, Phantasy.” Poe used the German quotation again in 1842 as a motto on the manuscript title page of his planned collection of stories, PHANTASY-PIECES, See Quinn, p. 338, for a facsimile. ­[page 119:]

115  Here “embassy” means “message,” as in Paradise Lost, III, 658.

118-120  Neither mortals nor angels can bear the effulgence of the countenance of God. The idea is extremely common, and it seems unnecessary to repeat the passages from Moore cited by Killis Campbell, Poems (1917), p. 180, since they are not verbally very much like what Poe wrote. Mahomet himself, Moore remarks, quoting Sale, could not look directly at the angel Gabriel when the latter appeared in his true form.

123ff.  See I Kings 19:11-12: “The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains . . . but the Lord was not in the wind . . . And . . . a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

125  Compare a canceled phrase in “Irenë” (version of 1836): “Like music of another sphere.” The singular in the phrase is unusual, but in a fragment beginning, “If far from me the Fates remove,” Henry Kirke White wrote, “. . . with Plato’s ravish’d ear / I list the music of the sphere.” Poe’s line is an Alexandrine, correct as the second line of an heroic couplet.

127  Killis Campbell (Poems, p. 180) compared this to Byron’s Manfred, III, i, 9-11: “Philosophy / . . . The merest word that ever fooled the ear.”

133 Note 13:  The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (New York, 1895) gives as an obsolete meaning “not appearing to sight; invisible” and cites Macbeth, I, vii, 23: “The sightless couriers of the air.” Edward Legge (1767-1827), Bishop of Oxford, who published a sermon or two, is probably the man Poe had in mind.

140  Compare Politian, VI, 41: “The sands of time are changed to golden grains.”

143  The sphere of the fixed stars was sometimes called “crystalline,” a concept to which Poe alludes in “Ulalume,” line 63.

145 Note 14:  Did Poe (as I have done) observe the fireflies after reading a line in Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Sonnets (III, v, 10): “Apart like glowworms on a summer night”? There is no “plagiarism” here, for, surprisingly, Poe is more nearly correct. The mature male glowworm, which alone has wings, has little luminosity.

150  Poe seems to mean that a planet may be incidentally destroyed when God punishes its people; Cowper in The Task, VI, 257, says, “And earth be punished for its tenants’ sake.” See also Pope’s Essay on Man, I, vii, 247ff.:

And if each system in gradation roll,

Alike essential to th’ amazing Whole,

The least confusion but in one, not all

That system only, but the Whole must fall.

Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly,

Planets and stars run lawless thro’ the sky;

Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl’d,

Being on being wreck’d, and world on world;

Heav’n’s whole foundations to their centre nod, ­[page 120:]

And Nature tremble to the throne of God!

All this dread order break — for whom? for thee?

Vile worm! — O madness! pride! impiety!

158 Note 15:  Seneca’s account of the new island is in Questiones naturales, VI, xxi. Actually it was not named as Poe says, but arose near the islands of Thera (Thera or Santorini) and Therasia (Thirasia) in the Cyclades. Pliny, Natural History, IV, xxiii, gives the name of the new island as Automate, Hiera, or Thia.

Part II

1-10  I have received from Dr. Stanley P. Wyatt, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois, analysis of this passage. “Eve” means after the sun has set. The moon is “quadrated” when ninety degrees from the sun. “Noon of night” is when the moon is at the zenith, as may occur at sunset (at sea level) only at the first quarter. “Drowsy” is heavy with sleep.

The shepherd awakens from a nap late in the afternoon; it is deep twilight where he lies, but he sees far off to the northwest (or southwest) a mountain’s peak that catches the light of the sun sinking below the horizon (at sea level) in the west. The most prominent things seen are the two lights, those of the moon and the mountain top. These are like partners in a dignified dance, such as a minuet. The pious shepherd prays whenever he awakes from sleep. No commentator seems to have explained the passage, but it was so understood by Frederick W. Hulme in his illustration for Poe’s Poetical Works (London, 1852), p. 152.

1  Killis Campbell (Poems, p. 182) compared this to Paradise Lost, II, 1-2: “High on a throne . . . which far / Outshone the wealth of Ormus.”

2-4  Compare James Thomson’s Seasons, “Summer,” lines 284-285: “Or drowsy shepherd as he lies reclin’d, / With half-shut eyes, beneath the floating shade . . .” Also compare Milton’s “Elegia,” V, 41-42: “Forte aliquis scopuli recubans in vertice pastor / Roscida cum primo sole rubescit humus,” which Cowper translated, “Now haply says some shepherd, while he views / Recumbent on a rock, the reddening dews.” There is also a pertinent passage in Moore’s Lalla Rookh:

The boy had started from his bed

Of flowers, where he had lain his head,

And down upon the fragrant sod

Kneels.

Moore decorates this with a long note about the Turkish custom of praying wherever one happens to be at the proper time.

10  “The fair stranger light” is the unusual reflection of the rays of the sunken sun, stranger than moonlight.

13  Parian marble from Mount Paros, near Athens, is of the finest kind and was used for the Parthenon.

16 Note 16:  The verses are inaccurately quoted from Milton’s ode “On the Death of a Fair Infant,” lines 43-44. ­[page 121:]

17  Compare “To —” (“The bowers whereat”), line 8: “Like starlight on a pall.”

20  Poe sometimes omitted the accent on “linkèd,” but the word must have two syllables; in the Yankee, December 1829, p. 296, John Neal, in a footnote, sagely remarked, “To say link-ed light would be queer . . . but to say link’d-light would spoil the rhythm.” In his unfinished satiric fantasy of 1849, “A Reviewer Reviewed,” Poe pointed out his own source in Pope’s version of the Iliad, VIII, 25-26: “Let down our golden everlasting chain, / Whose strong embrace holds Heaven and Earth and Main.”

29  Compare “The Domain of Arnheim,” where Poe says, “The chiselled stone has the hue of ages.”

31  Poe probably had in mind Paradise Lost, I, 713-719:

Built like a temple, where pilasters round

Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid

With golden architrave; nor did there want

Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures grav’n,

The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon,

Nor great Alcairo such magnificence

Equal’d in all their glories.

35  On “Achaian” see note on I, 34.

36-37  In his tale, “MS. Found in a Bottle,” Poe writes of “the shadows of fallen columns at Balbec, and Tadmor, and Persepolis.” The three places are among the most famous of ruined cities.

“Tadmor in the wilderness” was one of the cities built by Solomon, according to I Kings 9:18 and II Chronicles 8:4. It is also called Tamar, “place of palms,” and was the classical Palmyra. It was partially destroyed by the Roman Emperor Aurelian in A. D. 272, after the revolt of its queen, Zenobia, who had boldly assumed the purple as Septimia Zenobia Augusta. She is referred to in Poe’s tale, “How to Write a Blackwood Article.”

Persepolis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Persia; the great palace there was burned by Alexander the Great in 330 B. C.

Ba’albek, the “city of the god,” seems to have been a great center of the worship of the Sun from early times. The Greeks called it Heliopolis, and the Romans made it a colony. Two huge temples at the place were finished in the third century of our era. The buildings were much damaged before they were visited by European travelers in the sixteenth century, but in Poe’s day they were in extremely ruinous condition after an earthquake of 1759. In recent times, they have been to some extent restored. In the earliest version of his tale, “Silence — a Fable,” Poe laid the scene at Balbec.

36 Note 17:  The passage inexactly quoted from Voltaire is from the fifth chapter of his Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations (1742). It means, “I know well what admiration those ruins inspire — but can a palace built at the foot of a chain of barren cliffs be a masterpiece of art?”

38f.  This passage was longer in the earliest text, that of The Yankee; it later was the basis of Poe’s poem “The City in the Sea.” ­[page 122:]

38 Note 18:  The long note is abridged from a passage in Chateaubriand’s Itinéraire. American editions of Shoberl’s translation were published at Philadelphia in 1813 and at New York in 1814. Both contain the misprint “deguisi” for “degnisi”; it is at page 264 in the New York edition, at 277 in the Philadelphia one. “Ula degnisi” is Chateaubriand’s own lame Turkish; I have allowed “Deguisi” to stand in our text, since it is what Poe found in Shoberl and shows the source. (See the notes on “Ulalume” for Poe’s possible later use of the word ula.) The Turks, I am told, sometimes speak of Ölü deniz, meaning “Dead Sea,” but more usually call it Lut denizi, “Lot’s sea.” For this, the Arabic form is Bahar Loth, now usually written Bahr Lut (“Sea of Lot”). Another Arabic name for the sea is Al-Buhairah Al-Muntinah, the second element from the root ntn, “to stink.” “Almontanah” is presumably what Chateaubriand thought he heard during his visit.

Siddim (a plural form) means “the large plain.” The towns accepted are Sodom (“burning”), Gomorrah (“sunken”), Zoar (“littleness”), Zeboim (“place of hyenas, gazelles, or roes”), and Admah (variously interpreted as “earth,” “fortress,” or “fruitful place”). Strabo, XVI, ii, 44, mentions the local tradition “that there were once thirteen inhabited cities in that region of which Sodom was the metropolis”; Stephen of Byzantium, s.v. “Sodoma,” mentions ten, not eight.

The authorities named were probably not all consulted by Chateaubriand, let alone Poe, who probably did look up the first and third. The references are (1) Tacitus, Historiae, V, vii; (2) Strabo, Geographia, XVI, ii; (3) Josephus, Bellum judaicum, IV, viii, 4; (4) Daniel, Abbot of St. Saba (a monastery near the Dead Sea), was not an author, but a friend and informant of (5) Michel Nau, Voyage de la Terre Sainte (Paris, 1702), p. 378; (6) Henry Maundrell, A Journey From Aleppo (1697), under date “March 30” (there are several editions of the book); (7) Franz Ferdinand von Troilo, Orientalische Reise (Dresden, 1676), p. 345; (8) the Chevalier Lambert d’Arvieux, Mémoires (Paris, 1735), chapter xxxviii. I have seen only a later translation of this last, and find that the author said he saw the ruins. Lacus Asphaltites is the Latin name of the Dead Sea.

40f.  With the Yankee text compare “Eleonora”: “We called it the River of Silence . . . No murmur arose from its bed . . . we loved to gaze far down within its bosom.”

42  Compare a canceled line in the 1836 text of “Irenë” (“The Sleeper”): “Which stole within the slumberer’s ear.”

42-43  Eyraco is obviously an old-fashioned name for Iraq, which embraces ancient Babylonia and Chaldea. Compare “The Coliseum,” lines 15-16: “O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee / Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!”

54  A zone is a girdle, an emblem of maidenhood.

57  Zanthe, whose name is another that derives from the hyacinth, is merely a woman addressed by the poet.

60 Note 21:  The full reference is to Merry Wives of Windsor, V, v, 77, also ­[page 123:] quoted by Poe in a review of the Poems of William W. Lord, in the Broadway Journal, May 24, 1845.

60-64  Compare E. C. Pinkney’s “To —,” beginning “ ’Twas eve,” lines 19-24:

The low strange hum of herbage growing,

The voice of hidden waters flowing,

Made songs of nature, which the ear

Could scarcely be pronounced to hear;

But noise had furled its subtle wings,

And moved not through material things.

67  “Charm” is from the Latin carmen, which may be a song, lyric poem, or rhymed spell; here Poe means all three.

68f.  Killis Campbell (Poems, p. 185) cites as the probable model an incantation to the spirit of Achilles in the opening scene of Byron’s Deformed Transformed:

Beautiful shadow

Of Thetis’s boy!

Who sleeps in the meadow

Whose grass grows o’er Troy . . .

71  Compare “Dreams,” lines 23-25: “the moon / Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon / Too coldly.”

71 Note 22:  Psalms 121:6 is what Poe has in mind. The full moon is widely credited with dangerous power; our word “lunacy” comes from Luna, the moon. Poe’s source for the moon blindness of Egypt has not yet been found; one supposes that the symptom is of brief duration.

72f.  Compare “The Island of the Fay”: “As thus I mused, with half-shut eyes,” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”: “To look at a star by glances — to view it in a side-long way . . . is to behold the star distinctly . . . its lustre . . . grows dim . . . as we turn our vision fully upon it.”

80-83  Campbell (Poems, p. 186) cites for comparison Byron’s Deformed Transformed, I, 158-161:

Shadows of beauty!

Shadows of power!

Rise to your duty —

This is the hour!

85  Compare “Eleonora”: “dark eye-like violets . . . were ever encumbered with dew.”

88-91  Compare Lambert A. Wilmer, Merlin (1827), III, iv, 42-45:

And O thus forever

Shall true love be blest,

Then lovers be constant,

And fear not the rest.

Wilmer’s play is based on the story of Poe and Elmira Royster.

100  “Ligeia (a Greek word signifying canorous, or high-sounding) is intended as a personification of music,” wrote Henry B. Hirst in the Saturday Museum, ­[page 124:] March 4, 1843, in his sketch of Poe, which certainly had the poet’s own approval. Poe gave the name also to the heroine of his story “Ligeia,” whose speech he wrote was “melody more than mortal.” The word is Homeric, and Vergil mentions Ligea as a nymph in Georgics, IV, 336.

107 Note 23:  Moore in a note to Lalla Rookh says of the albatross, “These birds sleep in the air. They are most common about the Cape of Good Hope.”

108  Compare Paradise Lost, I, 226: “Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air.”

112-113  Compare the opening of Byron’s “Stanzas for Music”:

There be none of Beauty’s daughters

With a magic like thee;

And like music on the waters

Is thy sweet voice to me . . .

124 Note 24:  The tale has not been identified.

124-125  Compare E. C. Pinkney’s lines quoted in note on lines 60-64, above.

127  John Phelps Fruit, Mind and Art of Poe’s Poetry, p. 28, thinks “modell’d” means to be regarded as mundane copies of heavenly realities; if so, the idea is Platonic.

132  Compare “The Sleeper,” lines 13-14: “. . . the lake / A conscious slumber seems to take.”

134  Killis Campbell (Poems, p. 188) compares this to Byron’s Island, II, xi, 14-15: “. . . the studded archipelago, / O’er whose blue bosom rose the starry isles.”

141 Note 25:  Poe quotes the fourth stanza of a song called “Mary,” from Scott’s Pirate, chapter xii. The source of the story about the bees has not been found.

159  Here the poet, who is elsewhere careless about the ranks of heavenly beings, uses “Seraphs” exactly. The four seraphim guard the throne of God, have six wings each, veiling their faces with one pair and their feet with another, and they rejoice in knowledge. These stories go back to a work called The Celestial Hierarchy, ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite but now supposed to date from the fifth century of our era and cited usually as the work of “Pseudo-Dionysius.”

161-171  This passage is admittedly obscure, and has puzzled commentators. “The eye of God” seems to be something different from what is meant in Ezra 5:5. I take it that although death in the form of an eternal sleep was the penalty for love on Al Aaraaf, one should not regret that Angelo and Ianthe found love. It was better than knowledge that would have given them protracted existence without the “last ecstasy of satiate life.” I reject the interpretation that there is a reference here to the death that admitted souls to Al Aaraaf, for Ianthe and Angelo did not encounter that together.

165  The simoom, the destructive wind from Africa, is also mentioned in the 1831 version of “Tamerlane,” line 180; in the tale, “MS. Found in a Bottle”; and in a canceled passage in “Siope” (later called “Silence — a Fable”). ­[page 125:]

167  Compare Gray’s famous phrase in his “Ode on . . . Eton College,” “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise,” and the statement that “Reason is Folly, and Philosophy a Lie” in Poe’s tale, “Loss of Breath.”

171  The reference is to the famous soliloquy, beginning “To be or not to be,” in Hamlet.

172  In “A Reviewer Reviewed” Poe points out the parallel in Moore’s Lalla Rookh: “. . . to dwell / Full in the sight of Paradise / Beholding Heaven, yet feeling Hell.”

173 Note 26:  The quotation is from the Poesias (Madrid, 1790), p. 2, of the great Spanish mystic poet, Fray. Luis Ponce de León (1527-1591). It is abridged cleverly and slightly misquoted by Poe. See Quinn, p. 143. One could translate it: “A dream interrupted, a day pure, happy, free — Seek; free from passion, zeal, hatred, hope, and jealousy.” Poe quoted this passage in his letter to Isaac Lea in 1829.

176-177  These lines are repeated with slight variation as the conclusion of the poem; compare Poe’s letter, October 18, 1848, to Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman: “I could scarcely hear my own voice for the passionate throbbings of my heart.”

181f.  Killis Campbell (Poems, p. 191) thinks that Poe’s model was “The First Angel’s Story” in Moore’s Loves of the Angels (1823). Poe wrote several prose dialogues between angels or happy departed spirits: “The Power of Words,” “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion,” and “The Colloquy of Monos and Una.”

181 Note 27:  Slightly misquoted from Milton’s “Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester,” lines 55-56.

191  Angelo is the spirit of Michelangelo Buonarroti (see above, p. 93) In the temporary paradise on Tycho’s star Angelo enjoys renewed youth.

197  The version of 1829 (see VARIANTS) is here reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, III, i, 60: “I am constant as the northern star.”

198  Ianthe, the heroine, has a name meaning hyacinth. She had never lived on Earth, but presumably had dwelt on some other planet, since a child could hardly be born on Poe’s Al Aaraaf, where passionate love meant destruction. “Ianthe” was the name Byron used for Lady Charlotte Harley when he dedicated Childe Harold to her in 1812; see the discussion of “To One in Paradise.”

201-215  The action is hard to understand, unless we assume that the poet discarded historical truth here as part of Science, something he indicated in his introductory sonnet that he would discard in his poem when he liked. Michelangelo actually died on February 18, 1563/4, at Rome. In the poem, he died in his sleep on the Greek isle of Lemnos (see next note), and his spirit wandered about, visiting beautiful scenes, the last being the Parthenon, whence he winged his way to the Messenger Star, in 1572.

203-204  Lemnos (modern Lemnos), an island off the west coast of Turkey, is the place upon which Vulcan is said to have fallen when hurled from Olympus by Jove. In the text of 1831 Poe put the word “Arabesq” (sic) in ­[page 126:] quotation marks, as inappropriate to a Grecian isle, but in 1574 the island had been under Turkish dominion.

209  Sādi, the bard of Shiraz, a leading poet of Persia, was born about A. D. 1184 and is said to have lived to be 110 years old. Even if these were lunar years, he lived over a century. He was noted for piety, elegance, and wit, and wrote voluminously, his best-known work being the Gulistan, or “Rose Garden,” a medley of prose and verse, which has been often translated. Poe may have known the English version of 1823 by James Ross.

210-214  Killis Campbell (Poems, p. 191) compared these lines to Moore’s Loves of the Angels:

Can you forget how gradual stole

The fresh-awakened breath of soul

Throughout her perfect form?

215 Note 28:  Poe borrows his peculiar phraseology from the Shoberl version of Chateaubriand’s Itinéraire (New York edition, p, 147), where it is said that the Parthenon “existed entire in 1687” — the year during which it was badly damaged by an explosion of the powder stored in it by the Turks, when it was hit by a shot fired by the Venetians besieging Athens.

217 Note 29:  The lines are from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, I, 150f., and were quoted with approval in Poe’s review of Charles Lamb’s Specimens of English Dramatic Poets in the Broadway Journal for November 15, 1845. Poe probably knew an early edition of Lamb’s work, which was first published in 1808, as his quotation is from Lamb’s slightly modernized version from the Marlowe quarto of 1616.

219  Perhaps this is an allusion to the flight of the eagle released from the top of the tower-like pyre of an emperor, in order to carry his spirit to heaven during the ceremonies of his consecration and enrollment (by the Roman Senate’s decree) among the gods.

222-236  Compare in “Hans Pfaall” the entries for April 4-17 for a more gradual but somewhat similar change in the appearance of the earth with increasing distance of the beholder.

232 Note 30:  See Paradise Lost, II, 933: “Flutt’ring his pennons, vain, plumb down he drops.”

244  “Daedalion” is a proper noun formed from the singular neuter form of the adjective derived from Daedalus, the “cunning” artificer of wings, who had a descriptive name. The Messenger Star, Al Aaraaf, was a carefully designed artifact of the Supreme Artist, God. The red phase of Tycho’s star occasioned great terror of the wrath of God.

252f.  Compare here Milton’s Comus, lines 5-6, “. . . this dim spot / which men call Earth,” and Henry Kirke White’s “Lines Written in Wilford Churchyard,” lines 28-31:

. . . if heavenly beings may look down

From where, with cherubim inspired, they sit,

Upon this little dim-discover’d spot,

The earth. ­[page 127:]

255  In the Herring copy of his volume of 1829, from which he read his poem at Boston in 1845 (see p. 559, below). Poe changed the name of his star to “Tophet-Nour,” a word which is a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic, meaning “Light of Hell” or “burning light.”

262  Campbell (Poems, p. 192) compared to this Byron’s “Darkness,” line 6, “Morn came and went — and came, and brought no day.” In “The Fall of the House of Usher” Poe says: “The hours waned and waned away.”

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 92:]

1  Ingram, Edgar Allan Poe; His Life, Letters and Opinions (1885), p. 64.

2  Stedman in Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, X, xx; Kent in Complete Works, ed. Harrison, VII, xvii.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 93:]

3  Poe distinctly says, both in the introduction to the extract from his poem in the Baltimore Gazette of May 18, 1829, and in his letter to Isaac Lea quoted above, that Angelo is the spirit of Michelangelo. The material in the Gazette was first pointed out by the late Kenneth Rede in “Poe Notes,” American Literature (March 1933); the letter to Lea was quoted later in the same year, on the same point, in my “Bibliographical Note” in the facsimile reprint of Poe’s volume of 1829. Prior to 1933 no student of Poe seems even to have guessed a connection of Poe’s hero with the painter-sculptor.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 94:]

4  Edgar Allan Poe (1961), p. 97.

5  See Stovall’s important articles, “An Interpretation of Poe’s ‘Al Aaraaf’ ” and “Poe as a Poet of Ideas;” Studies in English, no. 9 (University of Texas Bulletin, 1929) and no. 11 (1931). The earlier literature is largely synopsized there. Serious students should not neglect John Phelps Fruit, Mind and Art of Poe’s Poetry, pp. 23ff., where Poe’s Platonism is first discussed, and the pioneer work of William B. Cairns, “Some Notes on Poe’s ‘Al Aaraaf,’ ” Modern Philology (May 1915).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 96, running to the bottom of page 97:]

6  There is a correct astronomical passage in “Al Aaraaf;” II, 1-10; however, it ­[page 97:] describes a situation not peculiar to Nesace’s home, but something that can be seen by an untrained observer under proper conditions here on earth.

 


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Notes:

Errata:

- p. 107, in Poe’s footnote 18 (for part II): Tacitus / Tracitus [Typographical error noted by Burton R. Pollin]

- p. 124, in the note to line 165 (of part II): MS. / MS [Typographical error noted by Burton R. Pollin]


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[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Al Aaraaf)