Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (E. A. Poe), “The Visionary (The Assignation),” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 148-169 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 148, continued:]

THE VISIONARY (THE ASSIGNATION)

In “The Visionary” — its first title is better than “The Assignation” — we have the most romantic story Poe ever wrote. A discerning critic well said that it is “such a mixture of bitter and sweet that it clings to one’s memory like a ballad. The characters are sharply and consistently drawn, motives clear and convincing the more incredible the action grows.”*

The protagonist is obviously modeled on Lord Byron, as must have been apparent to Poe’s contemporaries and to later readers deeply interested in the poets and poetry of his period. How close the resemblance is has been ably studied. The heroine is a combination of the two women Byron believed he really loved, Mary Chaworth and the Contessa Guiccioli. Like Byron the hero is an English nobleman and he writes a poem echoing lines addressed by Byron to his first love. (See the notes on “To One in Paradise” in this edition, Mabbott, I, 215-216.) He resides in magnificence in Venice, he becomes the lover of the very young wife of a much older Italian nobleman.

Poe took a leading incident of his story from the twenty-third [page 149:] chapter of Oliver Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield (1766), as was pointed out by Jeanie Begg Dixon. “Matilda was married . . . to a Neapolitan nobleman . . . and found herself a widow and a mother at the age of fifteen. As she stood one day caressing her infant son in the open window of an apartment which hung over the river Volturna, the child with a sudden spring leaped from her arms into the flood below and disappeared in a moment.”

Poe took nothing essential from his other sources. He may have owed a little to Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, whom he mentions in “The Oval Portrait,” but resemblances to her Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) are commonplaces of romantic stories.§ Attempts to show Poe’s debt to a story by E. T. A. Hoffmann are chimerical. The story is “Doge and Dogaressa” which has the same setting (Venice), and involves a liaison between a lady and a young man who saves her husband from drowning. It seems to me that the two stories are not much alike, but this “source,” which was first suggested by Palmer Cobb in 1908, was received with respect by Killis Campbell, Mind of Poe, p. 171, and Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe, p. 214, where references are given.*

Poe seems to have been pleased, in general, with his story. It is the first in which he treats his favorite theme, the death of a beautiful lady, so highly praised as poetic in “The Philosophy of Composition.” It is specifically stated in the Southern Literary Messenger, August 1835, that “The Visionary” had been submitted in the Baltimore Visiter contest in 1833. The unsigned publication in The Lady’s Book — Godey had not yet added his name to the title — was Poe’s first contribution to a national monthly magazine. The poet at West Point had been a friend of the son of its editress, Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale. [page 150:]

TEXTS

(A) The Lady’s Book for January 1834 (8:40-43); Southern Literary Messenger, July 1835 (1:637-640); (C) Duane copy of the last, with manuscript changes, 1839; (D) Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840), II, 193-211; (E) Broadway Journal, June 7, 1845 (1:357-360); (F) Works (1850), I, 370-381. PHANTASY-PIECES (1842), title only.

The latest text (F) is given here. When Poe refurbished the story for publication in the Southern Literary Messenger (B), he substituted the moving lines of Henry King for the German mottoes, and struck out the two introductory paragraphs. He also combined a number of the short paragraphs, changed the heroine’s name from Bianca to Aphrodite, inserted rows of asterisks to mark breaks in the narrative, and made a number of minor changes in wording.

Reprint

Bentley’s Miscellany (English and American editions, December 1840) from Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, without acknowledgment.

THE ASSIGNATION.   [F]  [[v]]

Stay for me there! I will not fail

To meet thee in that hollow vale.

[Exequy on the death of his wife, by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester.]   [[v]]   [[n]]

Ill-fated and mysterious man! — bewildered in the brilliancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in the flames of thine own youth!(1) Again in fancy I behold thee! Once more thy form hath [page 151:] risen before me! — not — oh not as thou art{a} — in the cold valley and shadow — but as thou shouldst be — squandering away a life of magnificent meditation in that city of dim visions, thine own Venice — which is a star-beloved Elysium{b} of the sea, and the wide windows of whose Palladian{c} palaces{d} (2) look down with a deep{e} and bitter meaning upon the secrets of her silent waters. Yes! I repeat it — as thou shouldst be.{f} There are surely other worlds than this — other thoughts than the thoughts of the multitude —{g} other speculations than the speculations of the sophist. Who then shall call thy conduct into question? who blame thee for thy visionary hours, or denounce{h} those occupations as{i} a wasting away of life, which were but the overflowings of thine everlasting energies?

It was at Venice, beneath the covered archway there called the Ponte di Sospiri,{j} that I met{k} for the third or fourth time the person of whom I speak. It is{l} with a confused recollection that I bring{m} to mind the circumstances of that meeting. Yet I remember — ah! how should I forget? — the deep midnight, the Bridge of Sighs, the beauty of woman, and the Genius{n} of {oo}Romance that{oo} stalked up and down the narrow canal.

It was a night of unusual gloom. The great clock of the Piazza had sounded the fifth hour of the Italian evening. The square of the Campanile lay silent and deserted, and the lights in the old Ducal Palace were dying fast away. I was returning home from the Piazzetta,{p} by way of the Grand Canal. But as my gondola arrived opposite the mouth of the canal San Marco, a female voice from its recesses broke{q} suddenly upon the night, in one wild, hysterical, and long continued shriek. Startled at the sound, I sprang upon my feet: while the{r} gondolier, letting slip his single{s} oar, lost it in [page 152:] the pitchy darkness beyond a chance of recovery, and we were {tt}consequently left to the guidance{tt} of the current which here sets from the greater into the smaller channel. Like some huge {uu}and sable-feathered condor,(3) we were slowly drifting{uu} down towards the Bridge of Sighs, when a thousand flambeaux flashing from the windows, and down the staircases of the Ducal Palace, turned all at once that{v} deep gloom into{w} a livid{x} and preternatural{y} day.

A child, slipping from the arms of its own mother, had fallen from an upper window of the lofty structure into the deep and dim canal. The quiet waters had closed placidly over their victim; and, although my own gondola was the only one in sight, many a stout swimmer, already in the stream, was seeking in vain upon the surface, the treasure {zz}which was to be found, alas! only within{zz} the abyss. Upon the broad black marble flagstones at the entrance of the palace, and a few steps above the water, stood a figure which none who then saw can {aa}have ever since{aa} forgotten. It was the Marchesa Aphrodite(4){b} the adoration of all Venice — the gayest of the {cc}gay — the most lovely where all were beautiful — but still{cc} the young wife of the old and intriguing Mentoni,(5) and the mother{d} of that fair child, her first and only one, who now, deep beneath the murky{e} water, was thinking in bitterness of heart upon her sweet{f} caresses, and exhausting its little life in struggles to call upon her name.

She stood alone. Her small, bare and silvery feet gleamed in the black mirror of marble beneath her.{g} Her {hh}hair, not as yet more than half{hh} loosened for the night from its ball-room array, clustered, amid a shower of diamonds, round and round her classical head, in curls like those of{i} the young hyacinth.(6) A snowy-white and gauze-like drapery seemed to be nearly the sole covering to her delicate form; but the mid-summer and midnight air was hot, [page 153:] sullen, and still, and no motion{j} in the{k} statue-like form itself, stirred even the folds of that raiment of very vapor which hung around it as the heavy marble hangs around the{l} Niobe.(7) {mm}Yet — strange to say! — her{mm} large lustrous eyes were not turned{n} downwards upon that{o} grave wherein{p} her brightest{q} hope lay buried — but riveted{r} in a widely different direction! The prison of the Old Republic{s} is, I think, the stateliest{t} building in all Venice — but how could{u} that lady gaze so fixedly upon it, when {vv}beneath her lay stifling her own{w} child?{vv} Yon dark, gloomy niche, too,{x} yawns right opposite her chamber window — what, then, could there{y} be in its shadows — in its {zz}architecture — in its ivy-wreathed and solemn cornices — that{zz} the Marchesa di Mentoni had not wondered at a thousand times before? Nonsense! — Who does not remember that, at such a time as this, the eye, like a shattered mirror, multiplies{a} the images of its sorrow,(8) and sees in innumerable{b} far off places, the wo which is close at hand?

Many steps above the Marchesa, and within the arch of the water-gate, stood, in full dress, the Satyr-like figure of Mentoni himself. He was occasionally occupied in thrumming a guitar, and seemed ennuyé{c} to the very death, as at intervals he gave directions for the recovery of his child. Stupified and aghast,{d} I had myself{e} no power to move from the upright position I had assumed upon first hearing the shriek, and must have presented to the eyes of the agitated group a spectral and ominous appearance, as with{f} pale countenance and rigid limbs, I floated{g} down among them in that funereal{h} gondola. [page 154:]

All efforts proved{i} in vain. Many of the most energetic in the search were relaxing their exertions,{j} and yielding to a gloomy sorrow. There seemed but little hope for the child; {kk}(how much less than for the mother!){kk} but now, from the {ll}interior of that dark niche{ll} which has been already{m} mentioned as forming a{n} part of the Old Republican prison, and{o} as fronting the lattice of the Marchesa, a figure,{p} muffled in a cloak, stepped out within reach of the light, and, pausing a moment upon the verge of the giddy descent,{q} plunged headlong into the canal. As, in an instant afterwards, he stood with the still living and breathing child within his grasp, upon the marble flagstones by the side of the Marchesa, his cloak, heavy with the drenching{r} water, became unfastened, and, falling in folds about his feet, discovered to the wonder-stricken spectators the graceful person of a very young man, with {ss}the sound of{ss} whose name the greater part of Europe was then ringing.

No word spoke the deliverer.{t} But the Marchesa! She will now receive her child — she will press it to her heart — she will cling to its little form, and smother it with her caresses. Alas! another’s{u} arms have taken it {vv}from the stranger — another’s arms have taken it{vv} away, and borne it afar off, unnoticed, into the palace! And the Marchesa! {ww}Her lip — her beautiful lip trembles: tears are gathering in{ww} her eyes — those eyes which, like Pliny’s{x} acanthus, are “soft and almost liquid.”(9) {yy}Yes! tears are gathering in those eyes — and see! the{yy} entire woman thrills throughout the soul, and the statue has started into life! The pallor of the marble countenance, the swelling of the marble bosom, the very purity of the marble feet, we behold{z} suddenly flushed over with a tide of ungovernable crimson; and a slight shudder quivers about her delicate{a} frame, {bb}as a gentle air{bb} at Napoli about the rich silver{c} lilies in the grass.

Why should that lady blush! To this demand there is no answer — except that, having left, in the eager{d} haste and terror of a mother’s heart, the privacy of her own boudoir,{e} she has neglected to enthral her tiny{f} feet in their{g} slippers, and utterly forgotten to throw over her Venetian{h} shoulders that drapery which is their due. What other possible reason{i} could there have been for her so blushing? — for the glance of those wild{j} appealing eyes? for the unusual tumult of that throbbing bosom? — for the convulsive pressure of that trembling {kk}hand? — that hand{kk} which fell, as Mentoni turned into the palace, accidentally, upon the hand of the {ll}stranger. What reason could there have been for the low{ll} — the singularly low tone of those unmeaning words which the lady {mm}uttered hurriedly in bidding him adieu?{mm} “Thou hast conquered,” she said, or the murmurs of the water deceived me; “thou hast conquered — one hour after {nn}sunrise — we shall meet — so let{nn} it be!”

  * * * * *  

The tumult had subsided, the lights had died away within the palace,{o} and the stranger, whom I now recognised, stood alone upon the flags. He shook with inconceivable agitation, and his eye glanced around in search of a gondola. I could not do{p} less than offer him the service of my own; {qq}and he accepted the{qq} civility. {rr}Having obtained an oar{rr} at the water-gate, {ss}we proceeded{ss} together to his residence, while{t} he rapidly recovered his self-possession, and spoke of our former slight acquaintance in terms of great apparent cordiality. [page 156:]

There are some subjects upon which I take pleasure in being minute. The person of the stranger — let me call him by this{u} title, who to all the world was still a stranger — the person of the stranger is one of these subjects. In height he might have been below rather than above the medium size; although there were moments of intense passion when his frame actually expanded and belied the assertion. The light, almost slender symmetry of his figure, promised more of that ready activity which he evinced at the Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean strength which he has been known to wield without an effort, upon occasions of more dangerous emergency. With the mouth and chin of a {vv}deity — singular, wild, full, liquid eyes,{vv} whose shadows varied from pure hazel to intense and brilliant jet — and a profusion of curling,{w} black hair, from which a {xx}forehead of unusual breadth{xx} gleamed forth at intervals all light and ivory — his were features than which I have seen none more classically regular, except, perhaps, the marble ones of the Emperor Commodus.(10) Yet his countenance was, nevertheless, one of those which all men have seen at some period of their lives, and have never afterwards seen again. It had no peculiar{y} — it had{z} no {aa}settled predominant expression{aa} to be fastened upon the memory; a countenance seen and instantly forgotten — but forgotten with a vague{b} and never-ceasing desire of recalling it to mind. Not that the spirit of each rapid passion failed, at any time, to throw its own distinct image upon the mirror of that face — but that the mirror, mirror-like, retained no vestige of the passion, when the passion had departed.

Upon leaving{c} him on the night of our adventure, he solicited {dd}me, in what I thought{dd} an urgent manner, to call upon him very{e} early the next morning. Shortly after sunrise, I found myself accordingly at his Palazzo, one of those huge structures{f} of gloomy, [page 157:] yet fantastic pomp,{g} which tower above the waters of the {hh}Grand Canal in the vicinity of the Rialto.{hh} I was shown up a broad winding staircase of mosaics, into an apartment whose unparalleled splendor burst through the opening door with an actual glare, making me blind{i} and dizzy with luxuriousness.

I knew my acquaintance to be wealthy. Report had spoken of his possessions in terms which I had even ventured to call terms of ridiculous exaggeration. But as I gazed about me, I could not{j} bring myself to believe that the wealth of any subject in Europe could have supplied the princely{k} magnificence which burned and blazed around.

Although, as I say, the sun had arisen,{l} yet the room was still brilliantly lighted {mm}up. I judge{mm} from this circumstance, as well as from an air of{n} exhaustion in the countenance of my friend, that he had not retired to bed during the whole of the preceding night. In the architecture and embellishments of the chamber, the evident design had been{o} to dazzle and astound. Little attention had been paid to the decora of what is technically called keeping,{p} or to the proprieties of nationality. The eye wandered from object to object, and rested upon none — neither the grotesques{q} of the Greek painters, nor the sculptures of the best Italian days, nor the huge carvings of untutored Egypt. Rich draperies in every part of the room trembled to the vibration{r} of low, melancholy music, whose {ss}origin was not to be discovered.{ss} The senses were oppressed by mingled and conflicting perfumes, reeking up from strange convolute{t} censers, {uu}together with multitudinous flaring and flickering tongues of emerald and violet fire.{uu} The rays of the newly risen{v} sun poured in upon the whole, through windows{w} formed each of [page 158:] a single{x} pane of crimson-tinted {yy}glass. Glancing{yy} to and fro, in a thousand reflections, from curtains which rolled from their cornices like cataracts{z} of molten silver, {aa}the beams of natural glory{aa} mingled at length fitfully with the artificial light, and lay weltering {bb}in subdued masses{bb} upon a carpet of rich, liquid-looking cloth of Chili{c} gold.{d} (11)

“Ha! ha! {ee}ha! — ha! ha!{ee} ha!” — laughed the proprietor, motioning{f} me to a {gg}seat as I entered the room,{gg} and throwing himself back at full-length{h} upon an ottoman. “ ‘I see,” said he, perceiving that{i} I could not immediately reconcile myself to the bienséance{j} of so singular a {kk}welcome — “I see you are astonished{kk} at my apartment — at{l} my statues — my pictures — my originality of conception in {mm}architecture and{mm} upholstery! absolutely drunk, eh,{n} with my magnificence? But{o} pardon me, my dear sir, {pp}(here his tone of voice dropped to the very spirit of cordiality,) pardon me{q} for my uncharitable laughter. You appeared so utterly astonished. Besides, some things are so completely ludicrous, that a man must laugh, or die. To die laughing, must be the most glorious of all glorious deaths! Sir Thomas More — a very fine man was Sir Thomas More — Sir Thomas More died laughing, you remember.(12){r} Also in the Absurdities of Ravisius Textor,(13) there{r} is a long list of characters who came to the same magnificent end.{s} Do{pp} you know, [page 159:] however,” continued{t} he, musingly, “that at Sparta (which is now Palæochori,) at Sparta, I say, to the west of the citadel, among {uu}a chaos of scarcely{uu} visible ruins, is a kind of socle,{v} upon which are still legible{w} the letters ΛΑΣΜ. They {xx}are undoubtedly{xx} part of ΓΕΛΑΣΜΑ.{y} {zz}Now, at Sparta were a thousand temples and shrines to a thousand different divinities. How exceedingly strange that the altar of Laughter should have survived all the others!(14) But in the present instance,” he resumed, with a singular alteration of voice and {aa}manner, “I{aa} have no right to be merry at your expense. You might well have been amazed. Europe cannot produce anything so fine as this, my little regal cabinet.(15) My other apartments are by no means of the same order — mere ultras of fashionable insipidity.{zz} This is better than fashion — is it not? Yet this has but to be seen to become the rage — that is,{b} with those who could afford it at the cost{c} of their entire patrimony. I{d} have {ee}guarded, however,{ee} against any such {ff}profanation. With one{ff} exception, you are the only human being besides {gg}myself and my valet,{gg} who has {hh}been admitted within the mysteries of these imperial precincts, since they have been bedizzened as you see!”{hh}

I bowed in acknowledgment — for the {ii}overpowering sense of splendor and perfume, and music, together with the unexpected eccentricity of his address and manner, prevented me from expressing,{ii} in words, my appreciation of what I might have construed into a compliment. [page 160:]

“Here,” he resumed{j} arising and leaning on{k} my arm as he sauntered around the apartment, “here are paintings {ll}from the Greeks{ll} to Cimabue,(16) and from Cimabue to the present hour. Many are chosen, as you see, with little deference to the opinions of Virtu.{m} {nn}They are all, however, fitting tapestry for a chamber such as this.{nn} Here, too, are some chefs d’œuvre{o} of the unknown great; and here,{p} unfinished designs by men, celebrated in their day, whose very names the perspicacity of the academies has left to silence and to me.(17) What think you,” said he, turning abruptly{q} as he spoke — “what think you of this Madonna della Pietà?”{r}

“It is Guido’s own!” I said, with all the enthusiasm of my nature, for I had been poring intently over its surpassing loveliness. “It is Guido’s own! — how could you have obtained it?(18) she is undoubtedly in painting what the Venus is in sculpture.”

“Ha!” said he, thoughtfully, “the Venus(19) — the beautiful Venus? — {ss}the Venus of the Medici?{t} — she of {uu}the diminutive head and{uu} the gilded hair?{v} Part of the left arm (here his voice dropped so as to be heard with difficulty,) {ss}and all the right, are restorations; and in the coquetry of that right arm lies, I think, the quintessence of all{w} affectation. {xx}Give me the Canoval!{xx} (20) The {yy}Apollo, too, is a copy(21) — there can be no doubt of it — blind fool that I am, who cannot behold the boasted inspiration of the Apollo! I cannot help — pity me! — I cannot help preferring the Antinous.(22) Was it not Socrates who said that the statuary found his statue in the block [page 161:] of marble?(23) Then Michæl Angelo was by no means{yy} original in his couplet —

‘Non ha 1’ouimo artista alcun{z} concetto

Che un marmo solo in se non circonscriva.’ ”{a} (24)

It has been, or should be remarked, that, in the manner of the true gentleman, we are always aware of a difference from the bearing of the vulgar, without being{b} at once precisely able{c} to determine in what such difference consists. Allowing the remark to have applied in its full force to the outward demeanor of my acquaintance,{d} I felt it, on that eventful morning, still more fully applicable to his moral temperament and character. Nor can{e} I better define that peculiarity of spirit which seemed to place him so essentially apart from all other human beings, than by calling it a habit{f} of intense and continual thought, pervading even his most trivial actions — intruding upon his moments of dalliance — and interweaving itself with{g} his very flashes of merriment — like{h} adders which writhe from out the eyes of the grinning masks in the cornices around the temples of Persepolis.{i} (25)

I could not help, however, repeatedly observing, through the mingled tone of levity and solemnity with which he rapidly descanted upon{j} matters of little importance, a certain air of trepidation — {kk}a degree of nervous unction{l} in action and in speech — an unquiet excitability of manner which appeared to me at all times unaccountable, and upon some occasions{kk} even filled me with alarm. Frequently, too,{m} pausing in the middle of a sentence whose commencement he had apparently forgotten, he seemed to be listening in the deepest attention, as if either in momentary{n} expectation of a visiter, or to sounds which must have had existence in his{o} imagination alone.(26) [page 162:]

It was during one of these{p} reveries or pauses of apparent{q} abstraction, that, in turning over a page of {rr}the poet and scholar{rr} Politian’s beautiful tragedy, “The Orfeo,” {ss}(the first native Italian tragedy,){ss} which lay near me upon an ottoman, I discovered{t} a passage underlined in pencil. It was{u} a passage {vv}towards the end{vv} of the third act — a passage of the most{w} heart-stirring excitement{x} — a passage which, {yy}although tainted with{yy} impurity, no man shall{z} read without a {aa}thrill of novel emotion — no woman{aa} without a sigh.(27) The whole page was blotted with fresh tears; and, upon the opposite interleaf, were the following {bb}English{c} lines, written{bb} in a hand so very different from the peculiar{d} a characters of my acquaintance, that I had some{e} difficulty in recognising it as his own: — (28)

Thou wast that all to me, love,

For which my soul did pine —

A green isle in the sea, love,

A fountain and a shrine,

All wreathed {ff}with fairy fruits and{ff} flowers;

And {gg}all the flowers{gg} were mine.

 

{hh} Ah, dream too bright to{hh} last!

{ii} Ah, starry Hope, that didst arise{ii}

But to be overcast!

A voice from out the Future cries,

“Onward!” — but{j} o’er the Past

(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies,

Mute — motionless — aghast!

 

For alas! alas! with me

{kk}The light of life{kk} is o’er.

“No more — no more — no more,”

(Such language holds the solemn{l} sea [page 163:]

To the sands upon the shore,)

Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,

Or the stricken eagle soar!

 

Now{m} all my hours are trances;

And all my nightly dreams

Are where the{n} dark eye glances,

And where thy footstep gleams,

In what ethereal{o} dances,

By what{p} Italian streams.

 

Alas! far that accursed time

They bore thee o’er the billow,

From Love,{q} to titled age and crime,

And an unholy pillow! —

From me,{r} and from our misty clime.

Where weeps the silver willow!

That these lines were written in English — a language with which I {ss}had not believed{ss} their author acquainted — afforded me little matter for surprise. I was too well aware of the extent{t} of his acquirements, {uu}and of the singular{uu} pleasure he took in concealing{v} them from observation,{w} to be astonished at any similar discovery; {xx}but the place of date, I must confess, occasioned me no little amazement.{xx} It had been originally{y} written London,{z} and afterwards carefully overscored — {aa}not, however,{aa} so effectually as to conceal the word from a scrutinizing eye. {bb}I say, this occasioned me no little amazement; for I well remember that, in a former conversation with my friend, I particularly inquired if he had at any [page 164:] time met in London the Marchesa di Mentoni, (who for some years previous to her marriage had resided in that city,) when his answer, if I mistake not, gave me to understand that he had never visited the metropolis of Great Britain. I might as well here mention, that I have more than once heard, (without, of course, giving credit to a report involving so many improbabilities,) that the person of whom I speak{c} was not only by birth, but in education, an Englishman.{bb}

  * * * * * *  

“There is one painting,” said he, {dd}without being aware of my notice of the tragedy{dd} — “there is still{e} one painting which you have not seen.” And throwing aside a drapery, he discovered a full-length portrait of the Marchesa Aphrodite.{f}

Human art could have done no more in the{g} delineation of her superhuman beauty. The same ethereal{h} figure which stood before me the preceding night upon the steps of the Ducal Palace, stood before me once again. But in the expression of the{i} countenance, which was beaming all over with smiles, there still lurked {jj}(incomprehensible anomaly!){jj} that {kk}fitful stain{kk} of melancholy which {ll}will ever be found{ll} inseparable from the perfection of the beautiful.{m} Her right arm lay{n} folded over{o} her {pp}bosom. With her{pp} left she pointed downward{q} to a curiously fashioned vase.(29) One small, fairy foot, alone visible, barely touched the earth; and, scarcely discernible in the brilliant atmosphere which seemed to encircle and enshrine her loveliness, floated a pair of the most{r} delicately imagined wings.{s} {tt}My glance fell{tt} from the painting to the figure of my friend, and the vigorous{u} words of Chapman’s Bussy D’Ambois,{v} quivered instinctively upon my lips: [page 165:]

“He is{w} up

There{x} like a Roman statue! He{y} will stand

’Till Death hath made him{z} marble!”(30)

“Come,” he said at length, {aa}turning towards a table of richly enamelled and massive silver,{aa} upon which were {bb}a few goblets fantastically stained,{bb} together with two large Etruscan vases, {cc}fashioned in the same extraordinary model as that in the foreground of the portrait, and filled with what I supposed to be Johannisberger.{cc} (31) “Come,” he said, abruptly, “let its drink! It is early — but let us drink. It is indeed{d} early,” he continued, musingly,{e} as a cherub with a heavy golden hammer made the apartment{f} ring with the first hour after sunrise: “it is indeed early — but what matters it? let us drink! Let us pour out{g} an offering to yon{h} solemn sun which the gaudy{i} lamps and censers are {jj}so eager to subdue!”{jj} And,{k} having made me pledge him in a bumper, he swallowed in rapid succession several goblets of the wine.

“To dream,” {ll}he continued,{ll} resuming the tone of his desultory conversation, as he held up to the rich light of a censer one of the magnificent vases — “to dream has been the business of my life.{m} I have therefore framed{n} for myself, as you see, a bower of dreams. In{o} the heart of Venice could I have erected a better? You behold around you, it is true, a medley of architectural embellishments. The chastity of Ionia is offended by antediluvian devices, and the sphynxes of Egypt are outstretched{p} upon carpets{q} of gold. Yet the effect is incongruous to the timid alone. Proprieties of place, and{r} especially of time, are the bugbears which terrify mankind from [page 166:] the contemplation of the magnificent. Once I was myself a decorist; but that sublimation of folly has palled upon my soul. All this is now the fitter for my purpose. Like these arabesque censers, my spirit is writhing in fire, and the{s} delirium of this scene is fashioning me for the wilder visions of that land of real dreams whither I am now{t} rapidly departing.” {uu}He here paused abruptly, bent his head to his bosom, and seemed to listen to a sound which I could not hear. At length, erecting his frame, he looked upwards, and ejaculated the lines of the Bishop of Chichester:

Stay for me there! I will not fail

To meet thee in that hollow vale.{u}

{vv}In the next instant, confessing{vv} the power of the wine, he{w} threw himself at full-length upon an ottoman{x}

A quick step was now heard upon the staircase, and a loud knock at the door rapidly succeeded. I was hastening{y} to anticipate a second disturbance, when a page of {zz}Mentoni’s household{zz} burst into the room, and{a} faltered {bb}out, in a voice choking with emotion the{bb} incoherent words, {cc}“My mistress! — my mistress! — Poisoned! — poisoned! Oh, beautiful — oh, beautiful Aphrodite!”{cc}

Bewildered, I flew to the ottoman, and endeavored to arouse the sleeper{d} to a sense of the startling intelligence. {ee}But his limbs were rigid — his lips were livid — his lately beaming eyes were riveted in death.{ee} I staggered back towards the table — my hand fell upon a cracked and blackened goblet — and a consciousness of the entire and terrible truth flashed suddenly over my soul.(32)

 


VARIANTS

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 150:]

Title:  The Visionary. (A, D); The Visionary — A Tale. (B, C); changed in PHANTASY-PIECES

Motto and initial paragraphs of A:

Ich habe gelebt, und geliebet. — Schiller’s Wallenstein.

I have lived, and I have loved.

 

Und sterbich denn, so sterbich doch

Durch sie — durch sie. — Goethe.

 

And if I die, at least I die

With her — with her.   [[n]]

There is a name — a sound — which, above all other music, vibrates upon my ear with a delicious, yet wild and solemn melody. Devoutly admired by the few who read, and by the very few who think, it is a name not as yet, indeed, blazoned in the escutcheon of immortality; but there, nevertheless, heralded in characters of the Tyrian fire hereafter to be rendered legible by the breath of centuries.

It is a name, moreover, which for reasons intrinsically of no weight, yet in fact conclusive, I am determined to conceal. Nor will I, by a fictitious appellation, dishonour the memory of that great dead whose life was so little understood, and the received account of whose melancholy end is a tissue of malevolent blasphemies. I am not of that class of writers who, making some euphonous cognomen the key-stone to the arch of their narrations, can no more conclude without the one than the architect without the other.

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 151:]

a  art (A)

b  city (A)

c  Paladian (A)

d  palaces, gleaming with the fires of midnight revelry, (A)

e  sad (A)

f  should’st be. (A)

g  multitude — I would almost venture to say (A)

h  declare (A)

i  Omitted (A)

j  “Ponte di Sospiri,” (A)

k  I met / met me (A)

l  is, however, (A)

m  recall (A)

n  Demon (A); demon (B, C, D)

oo . . . oo  Romance who (A); romance, who (B, C, D)

p  Piazetta, (B, C, D, E, F) corrected from A

q  burst (A)

r  my (A)

s  Omitted (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 152:]

tt . . . tt  left at the mercy (A)

uu . . . uu  bird of sable plumage, we were drifting slowly (A)

v  the (A)

w  to (B, C)

x  ghastly (A)

y  supernatural (A, B, C, D)

zz . . . zz  which, alas! was only to be found in (A)

aa . . . aa  ever since have (A)

b  Bianca, (A)

cc . . . cc  gay;” but, alas! (A)

d  mother — the mother (A)

e  Omitted (A)

f  gentle (A)

g  beneath her. / beneath. (A)

hh . . . hh  hair partly (A)

i  like those of / like (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 153:]

j  motion — no shadow of motion (A, B, C, D)

k  that (A, B, C)

l  the weeping (A)

mm . . . mm  Her (A)

n  however bent (A)

o  upon that / to the (A)

p  where (A)

q  dearest (A)

r  rivetted — ah! strange to say! (A)

s  Old Republic / city (A)

t  fairest (A)

u  could (A)

vv . . . vv  her only child lay stifling at her feet? (A)

w  only (B, C, D, E)

x  niche, too / niche (A)

y  could there / could there possibly (A)

zz . . . zz  architecture, that (A)

a  multiples (F) misprint

b  a million (A)

c  ennuied (A, B, C, D); ennuye (F)

d  bewildered, (A)

e  had myself / had (A)

f  with my (A)

g  drifted (A)

h  funeral (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 154:]

i  were (A)

j  endeavors, (A)

kk . . . kk  Omitted (B, C, D)

ll . . . ll  dark niche (A)

m  before (A)

n  Omitted (A)

o  Omitted (A)

p  figure (A, E, F) comma added from B, C, D

q  height, (A)

r  Omitted (A)

ss . . . ss  Omitted (A)

t  stranger. (A)

u  another’s (A)

vv . . . vv  Omitted (A)

ww . . . ww  a tear is gathering into (A)

x  Pliny’s own (A, B, C, D)

yy . . . yy  Her lip — her beautiful lip trembles; the (A)

z  we behold / is (A)

[The following variants appears at the bottom of page 155:]

a  her delicate / the entire (A)

bb . . . bb  like a soft wind (A)

c  Omitted (A)

d  Omitted (A)

e  bureau, (A)

f  Omitted (A)

g  their tiny (A)

h  Venitian (A, B, C, D, E)

i  cause (A)

j  large (A)

kk . . . kk  hand (A)

ll . . . ll  stranger? — or for the low (A)

mm . . . mm  uttered, and departed? (A)

nn . . . nn  sun-rise — let (A)

o  Piazzo, (A)

p  not do / do no (A)

qq . . . qq  in a hurried manner he accepted my (A)

rr . . . rr  An oar was obtained (A)

ss . . . ss  and as we passed (A)

t  Omitted (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 156:]

u  that (A)

vv . . . vv  deity — a nose like those delicate creations of the mind to be found only in the medallions of the Hebrew, full [liquid B, C] eyes, (A, B, C)

w  glossy (A)

xx . . . xx  rather low than otherwise, (A, B, C, D)

y  peculiar — I wish to be perfectly understood (A, B, C, D)

z  it had omitted (A)

aa . . . aa  Italicized (B, C, D)

b  vague, intense, (A)

c  parting from (A)

dd . . . dd  me in (A)

e  very (A)

f  piles (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 157:]

g  grandeur (A, B, C, D)

hh . . . hh  Great Canal. (A)

i  sick (A, B, C, D)

j  with difficulty (A)

k  far more than imperial (A, B, C, D)

l  risen, (A)

mm . . . mm  up, and I judged (A)

n  of apparent (A)

o  had been / was (A)

p  “keeping,” (A)

q  “Grotesques” (A)

r  vibrations (A, B, C)

ss . . . ss  unseen origin undoubtedly lay in the recesses of the crimson [red coral A] trellice-work which tapestried the ceiling. (A, B, C, D)

t  Arabesque (A, B, C)

uu . . . uu  which seemed actually endued with a monstrous vitality as their particoloured fires writhed up and down, and around about their extravagant proportions. (A, B, C, D)

v  newly risen / rising (A)

w  windows, (F) comma deleted to follow A, B, C, D, E

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 158:]

x  single huge (A)

yy . . . yy  glass, and glancing (A)

z  streams (A)

aa . . . aa  Omitted (A)

bb . . . bb  and subdued (A)

c  Omitted (A)

d  After this a new paragraph: Here then had the hand of genius been at work. — A wilderness — a chaos of beauty was before me; a sense of dreamy and incoherent grandeur took possession of my soul, and I remained speechless. (A, in a new paragraph); Here then had the hand of genius been at work. A chaos — a wilderness of beauty lay before me. A sense of dreamy and incoherent grandeur took possession of my soul, and I remained within the doorway speechless. (B, C, D, not a new paragraph)

ee . . . ee  Omitted (A)

f  pointing (A)

gg . . . gg  seat, (A, B, C, D)

h  at full-length omitted (A)

ii . . . ii  There was, I thought, a tincture of bitterness in the laugh, and (A)

j  bienseance (A, B, C, D, F) accent added from E

kk . . . kk  welcome. new paragraph “Ha! ha! ha! — ha! ha! ha!” continued he. “I see you are surprised, (A)

l  Omitted (A)

mm . . . mm  architecture — in (A)

n  drunk, eh, / drunk (A)

o  But / Ha! ha! ha! (A)

pp . . . pp  pardon me — I must laugh or die — perhaps both,” continued he, after a pause. “Do (A)

q  me, my dear sir, (B, C, D)

rr . . . rr  Also there (B, C, D)

s  end, in the Absurdities of Ravisius Textor. (B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 159:]

t  said (A)

uu . . . uu  the scarce (A)

v  socle, (A)

w  visible (A)

xx . . . xx  are, I verily believe, (A)

y  The two Greek words are corrected from A, B, C

zz . . . zz  How many divinities had altars at Sparta, and how strange that that of Laughter should be found alone surviving! But just now, to be sure, I have no right to be surprized at your astonishment. Europe — the world, cannot rival this my regal cabinet. My other apartments, however, are mere matters of fact — ultras of fashionable insipidity. (A)

aa . . . aa  manner — in the present instance I (B, C, D)

b  is to say, (A)

c  expense (A)

d  But I (A)

ee . . . ee  guarded (A)

ff . . . ff  profanation, with one exception” — (here the pallor of death rapidly overspread his countenance, and as rapidly spread away) — “with one (A)

gg . . . gg  myself, (A, B, C, D)

hh . . . hh  ever set foot within its imperial precincts.” (A); been admitted within the mysteries of these imperial precincts.” (B, C, D)

ii . . . ii  unexpected eccentricity of his address and manner, had filled me with amazement, and I could not express (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 160:]

j  he resumed, / said he, (A)

k  upon (A)

ll . . . ll  of all ages, from the Greek painters (A)

m  Vertu. (A); Virtû. (B, C, D, E)

nn . . . nn  Omitted (A)

o  chef-dœuvres (A); chéf d’œuvres (B, C, D, E); chef d’oeuvres (F)

p  there, (A)

q  Omitted (A)

r  Pieta?” (A, F); Pietà?” (B, C, D, E)

ss . . . ss  the Venus of Venuses! — the Venus de Medicis! — the work of Cleomenes, the son of the Athenian! as much as it is the work of mine own hands! — part of the left arm, (A)

t  Medicis? (B, C)

uu . . . uu  Omitted (B, C, D)

v  hair? — the work of Cleomenes, the son of the Athenian? (B) changed in C

w  Omitted (A)

xx . . . xx  Omitted (A)

yy . . . yy  Apollo too! — you spoke of Apollo! — it is a copy; there can be no reasonable doubt of it. Sir, I will not bow to falsity, although begrimed with age — there is no inspiration in the boasted Apollo, and the Antinous is worth a dozen of it. After all, there is much in the saying of Socrates — ‘that the statuary found his statue in the block of marble.’ Michel Angelo was not (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 161:]

z  aleun (A)

a  circunscriva (A, B, C, D, E, F) misprint

b  being able (A)

c  Omitted (A)

d  friend, (A)

e  could (A)

f  habit (A)

g  into (A)

h  like the (A)

i  Cybele. (A)

j  on (A)

kk . . . kk  a nervous inquietude of manner, which appeared to me unaccountable, and at times (A)

l  intensity (B, C)

m  Frequently, too, / Frequently (A)

n  Omitted (A)

o  Omitted (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 162:]

p  these apparent (A)

q  Omitted (A)

rr . . . rr  Omitted (A)

ss . . . ss  Omitted (A)

t  found (A)

u  is (A)

vv . . . vv  near the conclusion (A)

w  of the most / of (A)

x  pathos (A)

yy . . . yy  divested of its (A)

z  could (A)

aa . . . aa  thrill — no maiden (A)

bb . . . bb  lines written, as I now write them, in English; but (A)

c  Omitted (B, C, D)

d  peculiar and bold (A)

e  Omitted (A)

ff . . . ff  round with wild (A); around about with (B, C, D)

gg . . . gg  the flowers — they all (B, C, D)

hh . . . hh  But the dream — it could not (A, B, C, D)

ii . . . ii  Young Hope! thou did’st arise (A); And the star of Hope did rise (B, C, D)

j  while (A, B, C, D)

kk . . . kk  Ambition — all — (A, B, C, D)

l  breaking (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 163:]

m  And (A, B, C, D)

n  thy (A)

o  etherial (A)

p  far (A)

q  me — (A)

r  Love, (A)

ss . . . ss  did not believe (A)

t  variety (A)

uu . . . uu  as well as the strange (A)

v  hiding (A)

w  the world, (A)

xx . . . xx  But I must confess that the date of the M.S. appeared to me singular. (A)

y  Omitted (A)

z  “London,” (A)

aa . . . aa  although not (A); but not, however, (B, C, D)

bb . . . bb  I repeat that this appeared to me singular — for I well remembered having asked him if he had ever met with, some person — I think, the Marchesa di Mentoni, who resided in England some years before her marriage — if he had, at any time, met with her in London; and his answer led me to understand that he had never visited Great Britain. I must here add that I have more than once heard, but, of course, never gave credit to a report involving so much improbability — that the person of whom I write, was not only by birth, but in education an Englishman. (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 164:]

c  speak (F) comma deleted to follow B, C, D, E

dd . . . dd  turning to me with evident emotion, as I replaced the volume upon the Ottoman (A)

e  Omitted (A)

f  di Mentoni. (A)

g  the accurate (A)

h  sylph-like (A)

i  her (A)

jj . . . jj  Omitted (A)

kk . . . kk  incomprehensible strain (A)

ll . . . ll  is, I do believe, (A)

m  After this: On a scroll which lay at her feet were these words — “I am waiting but for thee.” (A)

n  was (A)

o  across (A)

pp . . . pp  bosom, and with the (A)

q  downwards (A, B, C, D)

r  the most omitted (A)

s  silvery wings. (A)

tt . . . tt  I glanced (A)

u  powerful (A)

v  Bussy D’Ambois, (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 165:]

w  I am (A)

x  Here (A)

y  I (A)

z  me (A)

aa . . . aa  approaching a table of massy silver, (A)

bb . . . bb  some beautifully dyed and enamelled goblets, (A)

cc . . . cc  filled with what I took to be Vin de Barac, and fashioned in the same extraordinary model as the vase in the foreground of the portrait. (A) B and C are like F but have Johannisberger. / Vin de Barac.

d  indeed (A)

e  Omitted (A); thoughtfully (B, C, D)

f  chamber (A)

g  out, like true Persians, (A)

h  that (A); the (B, C, D)

i  Omitted (A)

jj . . . jj  struggling to overpower.” (A)

k  And, / Here (A)

ll . . . ll  continued he, (A)

m  life, and (A)

n  decked out (A)

o  Here, in (A)

p  stretching (A, B, C, D)

q  cloth (A)

r  Omitted (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 166:]

s  the whirling (A)

t  Omitted (A)

uu . . . uu  Omitted (A, B, C, D)

vv . . . vv  Thus saying, he confessed (A, B, C, D)

w  and (A, B, C, D)

x  an ottoman. / a chaise-longue, (A)

y  was hastening / hurried (A)

zz . . . zz  the Marchesa di Mentoni (A)

a  and, in a voice choking with emotion, (A)

bb . . . bb  out the (A)

cc . . . cc  “my mistress! — Bianca! — poison! horrible! horrible!” (A)

d  the sleeper / him (A)

ee . . . ee  but his lips were livid — his form was rigid — his beautiful eyes were rivetted in death. (A)

 


[page 166, continued:]

NOTES

Motto:  (A) The first of the two German mottoes of the earliest version is not from Schiller but from Adelbert von Chamisso, Frauen Liebe and Leben [page 167:] (1830), VIII, 7. The second is from Goethe’s ballad “Das Veilchen,” lines 19-20. The poem was quoted in full by George Bancroft, with a translation, in his “Life and Genius of Goethe” in the North American Review (October 1824). The same two lines were misquoted and humorously misascribed to Schiller by Poe in “How to Write a Blackwood Article.” In both uses he adapts the translation to his own purposes.

Motto:  (F) Poe doubtless knew “The Exequy” of Henry King (1592-1669) through some anthology; he quotes lines 89-90 here, and cites another passage in his “Reply to Outis” in 1845.

1.  Compare Measure for Measure, II, iii, 11, “Who falling in the flames of her own youth” — a passage quoted in Poe’s early manuscript of selected lines from Shakespeare (see “The Bargain Lost,” n. 1). The reading “flames” is an emendation that goes back to Sir William Davenant, and is supported by All’s Well That Ends Well, IV, ii, 5-6, although it was not adopted by Kittredge.

See also Byron, Childe Harold, III, lxxviii, 1-3,

His love was passion’s essence, as a tree

On fire by lightning; with ethereal flame

Kindled he was, and blasted.

2.  Andrea Palladio (1518-1580), Italian architect, had great influence in Poe’s America.

3.  Compare “Romance,” line 11, “eternal Condor years,” and “The Conqueror Worm,” lines 15-16, “Flapping from out their Condor wings / Invisible Wo!”

4.  Aphrodite is a name sometimes borne by modern Greek women. It is the name of the heroine of The Young Duke (1831) by Benjamin Disraeli. The name Bianca in the earliest version is appropriate for the lady’s purity.

5.  “Intriguing” meant “plotting” in Poe’s day, and Mentoni’s name suggests lying.

6.  The comparison of curly hair to the florets of the hyacinth can be traced back to Homer (Odyssey, VI, 231). Poe used the allusion in “To Helen” (see Mabbott, I, 166, 170) and again in “Ligeia,” below.

7.  The Niobe is a celebrated group at Florence, thought to be a copy of an original by Praxiteles or Scopas.

8.  Compare Byron, Childe Harold, III, xxxiii, 1-3,

Even as a broken mirror, which the glass

In every fragment multiplies; and makes

A thousand images of one that was.

9.  See Horace Smith, Zillah (1828), III, 220, “what Pliny calls the soft and almost liquid Acanthus.” Pliny the Younger, Epistolae, V, vi, 16, calls the acanthus mollis et paene dixerim, liquidus.

10.  The Emperor Commodus, like his mother Faustina II, wife of Marcus Aurelius, was very beautiful in form ant] features. For an explanation of Hebrew medallions, mentioned in the first version (A) , see note 6 on “Ligeia,” to which Poe transferred the allusion. [page 168:]

11.  Compare the palace of “The Masque of the Red Death.” The “cloth of Chili gold” is probably from the province of Chihli in China.

12.  See William Roper, The Mirrour of Vertue in Worldly Greatnes; or the life of Sir Thomas More (Paris, 1626), near the end: Sir Thomas “turned. . . a cheerful countenance, and said . . . my neck is very short, take heed, therefore, thou strikest not awry, for saving of thyne honesty.” There was a sketch of Sir (now St.) Thomas More in The Lady’s Book for November 1833.

13.  Poe refers to a chapter (II, lxxxvii) “De gaudio et risu mortuis” in the Theatrum Poetarurn . . . sive Officina Io. Ravisii Textoris (Paris, 1520). The work is a handbook of classical lore by Jean Tixtier, Seigneur de Ravisy, who died in 1524. Poe must have used a source that called Ravisius’ writings “absurdities” and from it mistakenly took the word for a title.

14.  Plutarch (Parallel Lives) records of Lycurgus that Sosibius said he dedicated a little statue of Laughter at Sparta. The remains of its pedestal are not now known, but, as Alfred G. Engstrom pointed out (MLN, November 1954) Chateaubriand thought he had found it. The word “socle” is in both his Itinéraire (1811) and Poe’s probable source, the translation by Shoberl (Philadelphia, 1813), p. 117, but in neither is it italicized.

15.  There were and still are important works of art in the palazzo Byron occupied in Venice. Poe’s hero’s collection, described in the next few paragraphs, was impossible, since it included what were already national treasures. But it is significant that Poe, who had seen few great pictures or sculptures, perceived that the best works of art can be grouped together harmoniously, without regard to schools.

16.  Giovanni Cimabue (1240-1302) was the Florentine “reviver of painting.”

17.  The unknown painters are described in a phrase reminiscent of Gray’s Elegy, line 4, “And leaves the world to darkness and to me,” also echoed in “The Coliseum,” line 32.

18.  This Madonna is a masterpiece of Guido Reni (1575-1642) now in the Gallery of his native Bologna. It is very large, over ten by twenty feet. Poe probably knew it from an engraving, and may have been unaware of its size.

19.  The Venus de Medici is said in the epigraph on the pedestal to be by “Cleomenes son of Apollodorus the Athenian” (a name Poe gave in the first and second version). This inscription is now thought to be a Renaissance forgery. See also “Ligeia,” on Cleomenes.

20.  Antonio Canova’s Venus (1805) is really a nude portrait of Pauline Bonaparte, riding on a lion’s back. For a contemporary opinion, see Byron’s observation in Childe Harold, IV, lv, 9, “Such as the great of yore, Canova is today.”

21.  The Apollo Belvidere is meant; it is surely a Roman copy. Many people think the statue looks like Lord Byron.

22.  Antinoüs, the favorite of Hadrian, was given divine honors in the Hellenic parts of the Empire and commemorated by statues and coins. Canova, among others, used him as a subject. [page 169:]

23.  According to Diogenes Laertius in his second book of Lives, “Socrates,” section XVI: “[Socrates] often said that he wondered at those who made stone statues, when he saw how careful they were that the stone should be like the man it was intended to represent, but how careless they were of themselves, as to guarding against being like the stone.”

24.  Michelangelo’s Sonnet is numbered XV in J. A. Symonds’ translation. “The best of artists does not have a concept, that the marble block does not circumscribe.” Poe mentions this in a letter of August 18, 1844 to Lowell, and in “Marginalia,” number 79 (Democratic Review, December 1844, p. 586).

25.  On Persepolis compare “Al Aaraaf,” II, 36, and Poe’s note (Mabbott, I, 107, 121).

26.  Compare “hearkening to imaginary sounds / And phantom voices” in Politian, VI, 23f., and “listening to some imaginary sound” in “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

27.  For the passage in the Orfeo, II, 19-26, See Mabbott, I, 212-213. In Poe’s day Angelo Poliziano’s poem was divided into acts. Poe hardly had the tragedy before him, for it contains nothing to blush about.

28.  Poe himself had two or more styles of handwriting. The “English lines” are one of his most often reprinted poems, best known under the title, “To One in Paradise.” In the separately printed versions the fifth stanza is omitted. The poem is closely related to lines Byron wrote out for Mary Chaworth; for further annotation see Mabbott, I, 211-216.

29.  In the earliest version the Marchesa has a scroll at her feet. Compare the earliest version of “To Helen,” where Psyche holds a scroll.

30.  Bussy D’Ambois, V, iv, 96-98, reads:

. . . I am up.

Here, like a Roman statue I will stand

Till death hath made me marble.

Poe gave the quotation more correctly in the first version of his tale.

31.  Johannisberger, a favorite in Poe’s stories, is one of the finest of all Rhine wines. In early versions he names Vin de Barac (properly Barsac), a wine also named in “Lionizing” and “William Wilson.”

32.  Medieval Venetian glass was supposed to break if filled with poison.

 


FOOTNOTES

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 148:]

*  New York Critic, January 2, 1886, quoted by Miss Phillips, I, 469.

  See Roy P. Basler, in American Literature, May 1937, and Richard P. Benton in Nineteenth Century Fiction, September 1963. Poe, of course, knew Thomas Moore’s life of Byron.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 149:]

  London N & Q, November 12, 1932. The incident is often omitted from abridged editions of The Vicar.

§  Celia Whitt in the University of Texas Studies in English (1937), 17;124f., points out several “parallels,” of which the name of the husband Montoni and the anonymity of the lover alone are of interest. Poe is using such conventional material that his story has been thought a burlesque by Edward Davidson, Poe, a Critical Study (1957), passim, but notions that Poe would have put so lovely a poem as “To One in Paradise” into a burlesque, or have considered the death of a beautiful woman comic, I cannot accept.

*  For the improbability that Poe had seen Hoffman’s story in 1833, see Woodberry, Life (1909), I, 133.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - TOM2T, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (The Visionary (The Assignation))