Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Irene [The Sleeper]” (Text-04), Southern Literary Messenger, May 1836, 2:387-388


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[page 387, bottom of column 2:]

IRENE.

I stand beneath the soaring moon

At midnight in the month of June.

An influence dewy, drowsy, dim,

Is dripping from yon golden rim.

Grey towers are mouldering into rest,

Wrapping the fog around their breast.

Looking like Lethe, see! the lake

A conscious slumber seems to take,

And would not for the world awake.

The rosemary sleeps upon the grave,

The lily lolls upon the wave,

And [[a]] million cedars to and fro,

Are rocking lullabies as they go

To the lone oak that nodding hangs

Above yon cataract of Serangs.

 

All Beauty sleeps! — and lo! where lies

With casement open to the skies,

Irene, with her destinies!

Ane hark the sounds so low yet clear,

(Like music of another sphere)

Which steals within the slumberer’s ear, [page 388:]

Or so appear — or so appear!

“O lady sweet, how camest 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 gentle wind hath thought it right

“To open thy window to the night,

“And wanton airs from the tree-top

“Laughingly through the lattice drop,

“And wave this crimson canopy,

“Like a banner o’er thy dreaming eye

“That o’er the floor, and down the wall,

“Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall —

“Then, for thine own all radiant sake,

“Lady, awake! awake! awake!

 

The lady sleeps! — oh, may her sleep

As it is lasting, so be deep —

No icy worms about her creep!

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!

Far in the forest dim and old,

For her may some tall vault unfold,

Against whose sounding door she hath thrown

In childhood many an idle stone —

Some tomb which oft hath flung its black

And vampire-wing-like pannels back,

Fluttering triumphant o’er the palls

Of her old family funerals.

E. A. P.

 


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Notes:

T. O. Mabbott notes that the name Irene carries a trisyllabic pronunciation, which he emphasizes by adding a dieresis over the final “e,” thus Irenë.


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[S:1 - SLM, 1836] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - To Irene [The Sleeper] [Text-04]