Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Irene [The Sleeper]” (Text-01), “Chevallie” manuscript, about March 1830


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[page 1:]

Lady Irene.

Tis now — so sings the soaring moon —

Midnight in the sweet month of June,

When winged visions love to lie

Lazily upon Beauty’s eye,  

Or worse — upon her brow to dance

In panoply of old Romance,

Till thoughts and locks are left, alas!

A ne’er to be untangled mass.

 

The moon! the moon! who ever heard  

Unmov’d the magic of that word?

I heed not, gazing on thy ray,

Of what the bards about thee say,

But that from off the mountains crown,

Over hamlets — over halls —

Over waterfalls —

O’er the strange woods — o’er the sea —

Over the river far and free —

Into the vallies deep and brown

Thy floods so gorgeously roll down!

 

An influence dewy, drowsy, dim

Is dripping from thy golden rim;

Grey towers are mouldering into rest

Wrapping the fog around their breast;

Looking like Lethe (that dim lake!)

The waves a conscious slumber take

And would not for the world awake; [page 2:]

The rosemary sleeps upon the grave,

The lily lolls upon the wave,

And [[a]] million bright pines to and fro

Are rocking lullabies as they go

To the lone oak that reels with bliss,

And nods above the black abyss.

 

All beauty sleeps: and lo! where lies,

With casement opened to the skies,

Irene with her destinies!

Thus hums the moon within her ear —

“O lady sweet! how cam’st thou here?

“Strange are thine eyelids — strange thy dress

“And strange thy glorious length of tress!

“Sure thou art come, o’er far-off seas,

“A wonder to our desert trees!

“Some spirit hath softly thought it right

“To open thy window to the night,

“And wanton airs, from the tree-top,

“Laughingly thro’ the lattice drop

“And wave this crimson canopy,

“Like banners, o’er thy dreaming eye

“Till wildly — fearfully in this hall

“The tinted shadows rise and fall.[[”]]

 

The lady sleeps: the dead all sleep —

As long as Love doth mourn and weep:

Entranced the spirit loves to lie

As long as — tears on Memory’s eye; [page 3:]

But when a week or two is by,

And the light laughter chokes the sigh,

Treadeth a pathway little known

To Heaven, disconsolate and alone.

 

The lady sleeps: O! may her sleep,

As it is lasting, so be deep!

I pray to God that she may lie

Forever, with as calm an eye,

That chamber changed for one more holy,

That bed for one more melancholy.

E A Poe.


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Notes:

This version of the poem was unknown to T. O. Mabbott, and is not included in his variant texts for the poem. Poe wrote it out in the album of Sally Chevallie, of Richmond. (It is undated, but falls between other material in the album of the date noted.) It was listed for sale by Bloomsbury Auction in New York, the auction scheduled for December 10, 2008. Photographs of the three pages were included in a listing on eBay, along with a brief history of the manuscript, December 4, 2008.


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[S:1 - MS, 1830 (photograph)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Sleeper [Text-01]