Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Spirits of the Dead” (Text-03), “Wilmer” manuscript collection, about 1828


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The Spirits of the Dead —

Thy soul shall find itself alone,

Mid dark thoughts of the grey tombstone —

Not one, of all the crowd to pry

Into thine hour of secrecy —

Be silent in thy solitude

Which is not loneliness — for then

The spirits of the dead who stood

In life before thee are again

In death around thee, and their will

Shall then oershadow thee — be still.

 

The night tho’ clear shall frown —

And the stars shall look not down

From their high thrones in the Heaven,

With light like Hope to mortals given,

But their red orbs, without beam,

To thy weariness shall seem

As a burning & a fever

Which would cling to thee forever

But twill leave thee, as each star

With the dew-drop flies afar —

 

Now are thoughts thou can’st not banish —

Now are visions ne’er to vanish —

2  No more, like dew-drop from the grass,

1  From thy spirit shall they pass —

The breeze — the breath of God — is still —

And the mist upon the hill

Shadowy — shadowy, yet unbroken

Is a symbol & a token —

How it hangs upon the trees!

A mystery of mysteries!

 


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Notes:

This manuscript was part of a set of pages, given by Poe to his friend Lambert A. Wilmer. It is printed here, with permission, from a private collection.

The manuscript it bears the page numbers “35” and “36” at the top of the two pages, forming both sides of a single sheet of paper. These numbers appear, respectively, at the far right and left of the pages. Page “35” begins with the title and ends with “Which would cling to thee forever.” Page “36” beings with “But twill leave thee, as each star” and ends with the final line of the poem. The “2” and “1” noted in the last stanza appear to indicate that Poe wanted to switch the order of these lines, which is how they appear in the next published version, from Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (1829). Two additional markings appear in Poe’s hand, both in a light blue pencil. The first of these is under the title: “by E. A. Poe.” The second comes towards the left side of the very bottom of the second page: “visit of the dead,” a reference to the original title for the poem. The manuscript is written in script in Poe’s usual dark brown ink.


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[S:1 - MS, 1828] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Spirits of the Dead [Text-03]