Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Israfel” (Text-05a), Saturday Museum (Philadelphia), February 25, 1843, p. 1, cols. 7-8


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­[page 1, column 7, continued:]

ISRAFEL.*

In Heaven a spirit doth dwell

“Whose heart-strings are a lute;”

None sing so wildly well

As the angel Israfel,

And the giddy stars (so legends tell)

Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell

Of his voice, all mute.

 

Tottering above,

In her highest noon,

The enamour’d moon

Blushes with love,

While, to listen, the red levin

(With the rapid Pleiads, even,

Which were seven,)

Pauses in Heaven.

 

And they say (the starry choir

And the other listening things)

That Israfeli’s fire

Is owing to that lyre

By which he sits and sings —

The trembling living wire

Of those unusual strings.

 

But the skies that angel trod,

Where deep thoughts are a duty,

And Love’s a grown-up God,

And the Houri glances are

Imbued with all the beauty

Which we worship in a star. [column 8:]

 

Thou art not, therefore, wrong,

Israfeli, who despisest

An unimpassion’d song.

To thee the laurels belong,

Best bard, because the wisest.

Merrily live, and long!

The ecstacies above

With thy burning measures suit —

Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,

With the fervor of thy lute —

Well may the stars be mute!

 

Yes, Heaven is thine; but this

Is a world of sweets and sours;

Our flowers are merely — flowers,

And the shadow of thy perfect bliss

Is the sunshine of ours.

 

If I could dwell

Where Israfel

Hath dwelt, and he where I,

He might not sing so wildly well

A mortal melody,

While a bolder note than this might swell

From my lyre within the sky.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 1, column 7:]

*  And the angel Israfel whose heart-strings are a lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures. — Sale’s Koran.


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Notes:

This poem is quoted as part of a biographical article on Poe. (The present version of the poem is identical with the March 4, 1843 text.)

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[S:1 - PSM, 1843 (photocopy)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Israfel (Text-05a)