Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Spirits of the Dead” (Text-D), Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine (Philadelphia), July 1839, 5:51


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[page 51:]

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD.

———

[column 1:]

 

I.

 

THY soul shall find itself alone

’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tomb-stone —

Not one, of all the crowd, to pry

Into thine hour of secrecy:

 

II.

 

Be silent in that 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 overshadow thee: be still.

 

III.

 

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 — [column 2:]

But their red orbs, without beam,

To thy weariness shall seem

As a burning and a fever

Which would cling to thee for ever:

 

IV.

 

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish —

Now are visions ne’er to vanish —

From thy spirit shall they pass

No more — like dew-drop from the grass.

 

V.

 

The breeze — the breath of God — is still —

And the mist upon the hill

Shadowy — shadowy — yet unbroken,

Is a symbol and a token —

How it hangs upon the trees,

A mystery of mysteries! —


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Notes:

It is interesting to note that the poem is unsigned in this printing, even with initials, and no author is attributed in the index. The reason for this may be that Poe’s poem “To Ianthe in Heaven” was printed in the same issue, where it is signed “E. A. Poe,” and he did not wish to have two items appearing with his name in one issue.


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[S:1 - BGM, 1839] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Spirits of the Dead (D)