Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “An Acrostic” [Text-01], undated manuscript, about 1829


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Elizabeth it is in vain you say

“Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:

In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.

Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:

Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,

Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.

Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

To cure his love — was cured of all beside —

His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

 


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Notes:

This poem is one of several acrostics Poe wrote for the amusement of female admirers. Here, the first letter of each line spells “Elizabeth.” In the following text, the key for the acrostic is shown in red:

Elizabeth it is in vain you say

Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:

In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.

Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:

Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,

Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.

Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

To cure his love — was cured of all beside —

His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

The poem was never published during his lifetime. It was discovered by James H. Whitty, who in his 1911 edition of Poe’s poems printed it with the title “From an Album.”

L. E. L. is presumably Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802-1838), a popular English poetess who typically signed her poems with those initials.

Zantippe is actually Xanthippe, the wife of the famous Greek philosopher Socrates. Poe intentionally misspelled the name for the sake of the acrostic. Xanthippe, sometimes also spelled Xantippe, was known for her quick and violent temper. Somewhat humorously, Socrates is reputed to have explained to Alcibiades that he remained married to her because “She exercises my patience, and enables me to endure all injustice I experience from others.”


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[S:1 - MS, 1829] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - An Acrostic [Text-01]