Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Irene [The Sleeper]” (Text-05), “McCabe” manuscript, about January 1837


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[page 1:]

Irene, the Dead

We stand beneath the soaring moon,

At midnight in the month of June —

An influence dewy, drowsy, dim,

Is dripping from her 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

Irene, with her destinies!

Her casement open to the skies!

And hark! the sounds so low yet clear,

Like music of another sphere,

Which steals within the slumberer’s ear,

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 thro’ the lattice drop,

“And wave this crimson canopy,

“So fitfully, so fearfully,

“Like a banner o’er thy dreaming eye,

“That thro the floors, and down the wall

“Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!

“Then for thine own beloved sake

“Lady, awake! — lady awake!

 

The lady sleeps! — the dead all sleep —

At least as long as Love doth weep. [page 2:]

Entranced, the spirit loves to lie

As long as tears on memory’s eye:

But when a week or two go by,

And the light laughter chokes the sigh,

Indignant from the tomb doth take

Its way to Heavn’n — and sorrow forsake.

 

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 chang’d 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 vampyre-wing-like pannels back

Fluttering triumphant o’er the palls

Of her old family funerals!

Edgar A Poe

 


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Notes:

This version is chiefly reconstructed based on the descriptions of Floyd Stovall and T. O. Mabbott.


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[S:1 - MS, 1837 (photocopy)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - To Irene [The Sleeper] [Text-05]