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Text: Edgar Allan Poe, "Tamerlane" (B), "Wilmer" manuscript collection, about 1828


[[. . . .]]
Gurgled in my pleas'd ear the crush
    Of empires, with the captive's prayer
The hum of suitors & the tone
Of flatt'ry 'round a sov'reign's throne.


The storm had ceas'd & I awoke —
    Its spirit cradled me to sleep,
And as it pass'd me by there broke
        Strange light upon me, tho' it were
    My soul in mystery to steep:
For I was not as I had been —
        The child of Nature, without care,
Or thought save of the passing scene.


My passions, from that hapless hour
    Usurp'd a tyranny which men
Have deem'd since I have reach'd to power
        My innate nature — be it so:
    But, father, there liv'd one who then,
Then, in my boyhood, when their fire
        Burn'd with a still intenser glow
(For passion must with youth expire)
Ev'n then who deem'd this iron heart
In woman's weakness had a part.


I have no words, alas! to tell
The loveliness of loving well!
Nor would I now attempt to trace
The more than beauty of a face
Which, ev'n to this impassion'd mind,
Leaves not its memory behind.
In spring of life have ye ne'er dwelt
    Some object of delight upon
With steadfast eye, till ye had felt
    The earth reel, & the vision gone?
So have I held to Memory's eye
    One object, and but one, until
[[. . . .]]


Yes! she was worthy of all love —
    Such as I taught her from the time
My spirit with the tempest strove
        When, on the mountain peak alone,
         Ambition lent it a new tone,
    And bade it first to dream of crime.
There were no holier thoughts than thine.
    I lov'd thee as an angel might,
    With ray of the all-living light
Which blazes upon Edis' shrine —
It is not surely sin to name
With such as mine that mystic flame.
I had no being but in thee —
    The world, with all its train of bright
And happy beauty —  (for to me
    All was an undefin'd delight.)
The world —  its joy —  its share of pain
    Unheeded then —  its bodied forms
Of varied being which contain
    The bodiless spirits of the storms,
The sunshine, & the calm —  th' ideal
    And fleeting vanitites of dreams
Feafully beautiful —  the real
        Nothings of mid-day waking life —
    Of an enchanted life, which seems,
        Now as I look back, the strife
Of an ill demon with a power
Which left me in an evil hour —
All that I felt, or saw, or thought,
    Crowding confusedly became
(With thine unearthly beauty fraught — )
    Thou —  & the nothing of a name.


The passionate spirit which hath known
And deeply felt the silent tone
Of its own self-supremancy —
Which knows (believe! for now on me
Truth flashes thro' Eternity,
There is a power in the high spirit
To know the fate it will inherit)
The soul which feels such power will still
Find Pride the ruler of its will.


Yes! I was proud & ye who know
    The magic of that meaning word
So oft perverted, will bestow
    Your scorn perhaps when ye have heard
That the proud spirit had been broken,
    The proud heart burst in agony
At one upbraiding word or token
    Of her, that's heart idolatry!
I was ambitious — have ye known
    The fiery pssion? Ye have not —
A cottager, I mark'd a throne
Of half the world as all my own
        And murmur'd at such lowly lot;
But it had pass'd me as a dream
    Which, of light step, flies with the dew
(That kindling thought) —  did not the beam
        Of Beauty, which did guide it thro'
The live-long summer day, oppress
My mind with double loveliness!


We walk'd together on the crown
Of a high mountain which look'd down
Afar from its proud natural towers
    Of rock & forest on the hills;
The dwindled hills, wence, amid bowers
        Her magic hand had rear'd around
    Gush'd shoutingly a thousand rills,
        Encircling with a glitt'ring bound
Of diamond sunshine & sweet spray
Two mossy huts of the Taglay.


I spoke to her of power and pride,
    But mystically, in such guise,
That she might deem it nought beside
    The moment's converse; in her eyes
I read, perhaps too carelessly,
    A mingled feeling with my own —
The flush on her bright cheek to me
    Seem'd to become a queenly throne
Too well that I should let it be
    A light in the dark wild alone.


There, in that hour, a thought came o'er
My mind it had not known before —
To leave her while we both were young:
To follow my high fate among
The strife of nations, & redeem
The idle words which, as a dream,
Now sounded to her heedless ear —
I held no doubt, I knew no fear
Of peril in my wild career —
To gain an empire & throw down
As nuptial dowry a queen's crown
The undying hope which now oppress'd
A spirit ne'er to be at rest.


Who that had known the silent thought
    Of a young peasant's bosom then
Had deem'd him, in compassion, aught
        But one whom Phantasy had thrown
    Her mantle over? among men
        Lion ambition is chain'd down,
And crouches to a keeper's hand —
Not so in deserts where the grand
The wild, the terrible conspire
With their own breath to fan his fire.

Look 'round thee now on Samarcand!
    Is she not queen of earth? her pride
Above all cities? in her hand
    Their destinies? in all beside
Of glory which the world hath known
Stands she not nobly & alone?
And who her sov'reign? Timur —  he
    Whom the astonish'd people saw
Striding o'er empires haughtily
    A diadem'd outlaw!
More than the Zinghis in his fame —
And now what has he? even a name.


The sound of revelry to night
    Comes o'er me, with the mingled voice
Of many with a breast as light
        As if 'twere not their parting hour
    From one in whom they did rejoice —
        As in a leader, haply; Power
Its venom secretly imparts —
And I have naught with human hearts. [ . . .]


This manuscript survives only as a substantial fragment.

[S:1 - MS, 1828] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Tamerlane (B)