Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. Killis Campbell), “Notes (Part 03),” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. 259-304


[page 259, continued:]


(American Whig Review, July, 1845; Broadway Journal, August 9, 1845; 1845)

(TEXT: Lorimer Graham copy of 1845)

Eulalie was probably written shortly after the publication of The Raven, when Poe was naturally in exceptionally high spirits. No other one of his poems (save, possibly, For Annie) is so lightsome and so joyous in mood. The name “Eulalie,” too, is finely in keeping with the spirit and movement of the poem. [page 260:]

The revisions made by the poet are extremely few, the text of the Broadway Journal differing from that of the American Review merely in the correction of a misprint (l. 11), and 1845 makes corrections in only three lines, each of them slight. The Lorimer Graham corrections extend only to spelling and punctuation. A manuscript of the poem, in Poe’s best calligraphy, was recently discovered in an old album in the possession of the New York Public Library; it differs from the text of 1845 only in its pointing and in the omission of the subtitle, “A Song.” On the back of this manuscript the following lines are written (in pencil and apparently in Poe’s autograph):

Deep in earth my love is lying

And I must weep alone.

Possibly the manuscript was copied in 1847 soon after the death of the poet’s wife.

Ingram (pp. 226 f.) suggests that Poe was influenced to some extent in the composition of Eulalie by Albert Pike’s Isadore, and cites in support of this suggestion certain verbal parallels between the two poems (see the notes on lines 8, 20). Eulalie, in turn, appears to have influenced A. M. Ide in a poem entitled To Isadore, published in the Broadway Journal of October 25, 1845 (cf. Harrison, VII, pp. 228f.). The name “Eulalie” was also used by H. B. Hirst in the title of one of his poems, Eulalie Vere (published in his volume of poems, The Coming of the Mammoth, etc., in June, 1845), and by Mrs. Osgood in her poem Eulalie and as the refrain of her lines, Low, My Lute — Breathe Low (see her Poems, pp. 451-453, edition of 1850), both of which refer to Poe.

Title. Poe inserted a period after the word “Eulalie” in the Lorimer Graham copy, but this has been omitted in the present edition in the interest of consistency.

6-8 For other references to the eyes — of which Poe made a good deal, especially in his later verses — see the note on Tamerlane, l. 111.

8 the eyes of the radiant girl. Ingram (p. 226) notes the parallel with Pike’s Isadore, l. 38:

Thy sweet eyes radiant through their tears.

11 moon-tints. The reading “morn-tints,” in the American Whig Review, is doubtless a typographical error.

[[first printing]]

19 Astarte. Here, I take it, the planet Venus. But in Ulalume, l. 37, Astarte plainly stands for the moon.

[[second printing]]

19 Astarte. The planet Venus. See, for a similar allusion, Ulalume, l. 37.

[page 261:]

20 Ingram (p. 226) calls attention to the parallel with ll. 41-42:

The moonlight struggled through the vines, and fell upon thy face, Which thou didst lovingly upturn with pure and trustful gaze.

21 Cf. Ide’s To Isadore (Broadway Journal, October 25, 1845 (ll. 13-14)):

Thy violet eyes to me

Upturned, did overflowing seem

With the deep, untold delight

Of Love’s serenity.


(New York Evening Mirror, February 21, 1846; Sartain’s Union Magazine, March, 1849; Flag of Our Union, March 3, 1849; 1850)

(TEXT: Flag of Our Union)

This poem was written, in all likelihood, early in 1846. It was read at a valentine party at the home of Miss Anne Charlotte Lynch, in New York City, on the evening of February 14, 1846, and was first published, along with other verses read on the same occasion, in the Evening Mirror of February 21, 1846. By combining the first letter of the first line with the second letter of the second line and so on, the name Frances Sargent Osgood will be read out of the poem (cf. An Enigma, which enshrines in similar fashion the name of Mrs. Sarah Anna Lewis). For other poems addressed by Poe to Mrs. Osgood and for particulars as to their friendship, see the notes on To F —— .

The texts of the poem published in Sartain’s Union Magazine and the Flag of Our Union in 1849 seem to have appeared almost simultaneously. Whether Poe sold the poem to both periodicals (as is alleged by W. M. Griswold, Passages from the Correspondence of R. W. Griswold, p. 217), it is impossible now to say. The editor of the Flag published the following explanation of the matter, under the title “That Valentine by Poe,” in the issue of his paper for March 17, 1849:

Having received a poem from our regular contributor, Edgar A. Poe, Esq., and having paid for the same as original, we were not a little surprised to see the poem appear in a Sartain’s Union Magazine for March, uncredited, and as original, though in the table of contents on the cover [page 262:] it is omitted. We at once addressed Mr. Poe, for an explanation, lest it should appear that we had taken the Valentine from the Magazine without credit. His answer to us is full and satisfactory. The said poem was written and handed to Mr. De Graw, a gentleman who proposed to start a Magazine in New York, but who gave up the project and started himself for California. Mr. Poe, learning of this, thought, of course, his composition was his own again, and sent it to us as one of his regular contributions for the Flag; and was himself as much surprised as we could be, to see it, not long afterwards, in the Magazine, though the publisher does not say there that it was written for his pages. It was doubtless handed by Mr. De Graw to Sartain, and published thus without any intent to wrong any one. We make this statement, as in duty bound to Mr. Poe, and ourselves.

In behalf of Poe it should also be stated that similar charges of double-dealing by him in the case of The Bells and For Annie (see the notes on these poems) have been disproved. And it is due to Poe to state, too, that, although the poem as published in the Union Magazine is there dated “Valentine’s Eve, 1849,” a manuscript copy of the poem (preserved among the Griswold Papers), which tallies verbally with that text except for the reading “these” for “the,” in line 5, bears date “Valentine’s Eve, 1848” (see the facsimile of this manuscript given by Woodberry (II, opposite page 182)). On the other hand, it is proper to note that the Flag text is nearer in several of its readings to the text of 1846 than is that of the Union Magazine (see the footnotes for lines 1,4, 5, 8, 14, 15); and that Griswold, with both the Flag and the Union text before him, gave the preference to the latter. Possibly Poe kept no copy of the text sent to the Union Magazine, and revised the poem anew (on the basis of the Mirror text) when he sent it to the Flag in 1849.

In the Flag text, owing probably to an oversight of the printer, the alternate lines are not indented.

1 luminous eyes. Cf. Ulalume, l. 50, the later To Helen, ll. 51 f., and the note on line 2 of Impromptu: To Kate Carol; and for Poe’s frequent mention of the eyes, see the note on Tamerlane, l. 111.

2 twins of Lœda. Castor and Pollux; cf. Gayley’s Classic Myths, pp. 242-245 and passim. Poe has the same allusion in his story Ligeia (Harrison, II, p. 252), where he describes his heroine’s eyes as “twin stars of Leda.” Cf. also H. B. Hirst’s Astarte, ll. 10-12:

Thy argent eyes

(Twin planets swimming through love’s lustrous skies)

Are mirrored in my heart’s serenest streams; [page 263:]

and Chivers’s Conrad and Eudora, III, iii:

Thine azure lamps — twin born divinities.

8 An unusually awkward line for Poe. The reading of the Union Magazine is smoother, but less precise.

9 trivialest. The Mirror has “smallest,” thus opening the way to the misspelling of Mrs. Osgood’s second name in the anagram contained in that version. In consequence of the substitution of “trivialest” in the later texts, the line becomes an Alexandrine.

12 understand. In this reading, it will be observed, the text of the Flag of Our Union stands alone, though in lines 1,4, 5, 8, 14, 15, as already noted, it is nearer to the original version than is the text of the Union Magazine.

14 eyes ... lies. An inadvertent rhyme, which is avoided by the Union Magazine and Griswold.

lies ... perdu. The idiom appears to have been a favorite with Poe; he uses it in two notices of Mrs. Osgood published in Godey’s in 1846 (Harrison, XIII, p. 111; XV, p. 95) and also in an article about Mrs. Osgood in the Southern Literary Messenger in 1849 (Harrison, XIII, p. 176), as well as in a letter to Anthon in 1844 (Letters, p. 176).

17 naturally lying. See for other puns in Poe’s writings, Harrison, XII, p. 161; XIV, pp. 171, 172, 178, 179; XVI, pp. 46, 167; and see also the lines Impromptu: To Kate Carol (among the Poems Attributed to Poe).

18 Pinto (Mendez Ferdinando). Cf. a passage in one of Poe’s reviews (Harrison, X, pp. 204-205): “the Munchausens and Ferdinand Mendez Pintos, who, telling incredible tales of lands of the South Pole or mountains in the moon,” etc.; see also Congreve’s Love for Love, II, i: “Ferdinand Mendez Pinto was but a type of thee, thou liar of the first magnitude!” Pinto, a Portuguese adventurer (1509-1583), traveled extensively in the East, and left an account of his travels in his Perigrination (published in 1614). Despite the tradition to the contrary, his accounts are now believed to have been, for the most part, veracious (see the article in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition). The name “Pinto” was adopted by C. F. Briggs (an early colleague of Poe’s in the conduct of the Broadway Journal, but in 1846 an avowed enemy of his) as a pen name in certain periodical publications in the forties; it is possible that Poe here intends a covert dig at him (see his [page 264:] mention of him in this character in an article published by Griswold (III, pp. 35-37))

18-20 In the Mirror there appeared instead of these lines the following four lines:

Compose a sound delighting all to hear —

Ah, this you ‘d have no trouble in descrying

Were you not something of a dunce, my dear:

And now I leave these riddles to their seer.

20 A line of seven stresses.

TO M. L. S.. (116)

(Home Journal, March 13, 1847; 1850)

(TEXT: Home Journal)

A tribute to Mrs. Marie Louise Shew, to whom, also, were addressed the lines To — — —. (beginning: “Not long ago the writer of these lines”) and an unpublished poem, now lost, The Beautiful Physician (see the article of J. H. Ingram, “Poe’s Lost Poem,” in the New York Bookman, XXVIII, pp. 452-454).

Mrs. Shew, a lady of New York, the daughter of a physician and not unskilled in medicine herself (Ingram, p. 330), had been introduced to the Poes in the late autumn or early winter of 1846 by Mrs. Gove, and had contributed more than anyone else outside of the family to their comforts during the last illness of Mrs. Poe in the winter of 1846-1847; and she had also nursed Poe during the serious illness that followed the death of his wife. The poet was deeply grateful to her, as sundry letters as well as the verses dedicated to her attest. His gratitude, it appears, soon ripened into love; and, his devotion presently becoming too ardent or too demonstrative, Mrs. Shew in the summer of 1848 broke off all relations with him. She was subsequently married to the Reverend Roland S. Houghton, and died September 3, 1877. Her papers relating to Poe, including a diary kept during the poet’s illness in 1847 and a number of letters from him, she placed in the hands of Mr. Ingram, who reproduces them in large part in his Life of Poe, pp. 316 f. A portrait of Mrs. Shew is given by Didier in The Poe Cult (opposite page 273).

The only text of the poem published during Poe’s lifetime is that of the Home Journal of March 13, 1847, which is followed here (except [page 265:] that commas have been substituted for dashes after the words “Truth” and “Virtue” in line 7, and that double quotation marks have been used instead of single quotation marks in line 10). The text of Griswold (1850) differs from the present text only in the punctuation of line 10.

Whitty (p. 236) cites the variants exhibited by a manuscript copy addressed “To Mrs. M. L. S..” and dated “February 14, 1847.” The date of this manuscript enables us to determine with unusual exactitude the time of composition of the poem. Mrs. Poe died on January 30, 1847, and it is plain that the lines were not written until after her death.

As published in the Home Journal, the poem is preceded by the following editorial notice: “The following seems said over a hand clasped in the speaker’s two. It is by Edgar A. Poe, and is evidently the pouring out of a very deep feeling of gratitude.”

6, 7 In her diary (cf. Ingram, pp. 333 f.) Mrs. Shew writes of attending church services with Poe one evening during the year 1847; and Poe in his last letter to Mrs. Shew (Ingram, p. 364) credits her with having “renewed [his] hopes and faith in God ... and in humanity.”

12 For Poe’s frequent mention of the eyes in his verses, see the note on Tamerlane, l. 111.


(American Whig Review, December, 1847; Home Journal, January 1, 1848; Providence Journal, November 22, 1848; Literary World, March 3, 1849; Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America, 10th edition; 1850)

(TEXT: Poe manuscript)

Date of Composition. The date of composition of Ulalume presents a difficult problem. Internal evidence clearly points to some period following the death of Mrs. Poe (January 30, 1847). Moreover, Mrs. Whitman, who avers that she talked with Poe about the circumstances under which the poem was written (see Letters, p. 426), got the impression that it was composed after Virginia’s death; and in her book, Edgar Poe and his Critics (pp. 282-289), she states that it was written towards the end of 1847. A reference to the poem in a letter of Poe’s of January 4, 1848 (Letters, p. 288), indicates that it was first offered [page 266:] to the Whig Review at some time during the year of its publication there: for Poe says in the same letter that the poem had been given to Colton, the editor of the Whig Review, in exchange for The Rationale of Verse. Another letter (see Letters, p. 271) shows that The Rationale of Verse had originally been sent to Colton late in 1846, and that Poe expected it to appear there the following spring. Stoddard, who associates Ulalume with the year 1847, asserts (I, p. 150) that it had been rejected by the Union Magazine before being offered to the American Review.

But there is also evidence tending to show that the poem was written before 1847. Mrs. Mary Gove (later Mrs. Gove-Nichols) in some reminiscences of a visit at Fordham in the summer of 1846 (see the Sixpenny Magazine for February, 1863, as quoted by Woodberry (II, p. 436)) tells of having been requested by Mrs. Clemm on that occasion to intercede with the editor of the Whig Review in behalf of the publication there of a poem recently offered him by Poe — a poem which, Mrs. Gove says, she and the-rest of her party read in conclave, and “could not make head or tail” out of. This poem, she adds, was published in the Whig Review “soon after.” Now, Ulalume, although it was not published in the Whig Review till December, 1847, is the only poem of Poe’s that was published in that magazine during the years 1846-1847; besides, Mrs. Gove’s description of the poem she heard tallies very well with the impression that Ulalume might be supposed to have made upon one on first hearing it read. It is worthy of note, also, in this connection that Rosalie Poe, the poet’s sister, declared to Mrs. Weiss (Home Life of Poe, p. 129) that she heard Poe read repeatedly in the summer of 1846 a poem which she identifies with Annabel Lee, but which it is more reasonable to believe was Ulalume.

The evidence in the case is thus seen to be almost hopelessly contradictory. It is possible that Mrs. Gove confused two visits at the Poe home a year apart (it is clear that she gives some details inaccurately); but she associates her visit quite definitely with a period prior to the death of Mrs. Poe, and she gives a highly circumstantial account . On the other hand, it is difficult not to believe that Ulalume echoes the poet’s grief following the death of his wife. The discrepancies in the evidence appear to be irreconcilable except on the theory, already suggested by Professor Woodberry (II, p. 439), that Ulalume was originally begun in the summer of 1846 or earlier, and recast in the spring or summer of 1847. [page 267:]

Text. The manuscript of Ulalume followed in the present edition (save for revisions in punctuation) was written by the poet about a month before his death and presented by him to Miss Susan Ingram of Virginia. It is now in the possession of Mr. J. P. Morgan of New York City, by whose courtesy we have been permitted to use it here. The same text, except for variations in the pointing and for the substitution of “a” for the second “the” in line 75, is preserved in revised proof sheets intended for publication in the Richmond Examiner in the autumn of 1849 (see Whitty, pp. ix, 82 f., 244).

As printed in the Whig Review the poem bore as a part of its title the superscription To — — — , the rest of the title being subjoined to this dedication. The Home Journal omits this dedicatory superscription, but except for this (and the misprint “on” for “an” in line 40) follows the text of the Whig Review. The text of the Providence Journal omits the tenth stanza, introduces several verbal changes (in lines 28, 57, 59, 76, 90), and is marred by serious typographical errors (in lines 1, 31, 32, 51, 76). The Literary World follows the Whig Review except for the suppression of the dedication and for slight changes in three lines — 13 (due to typographical error?), 76, 101. The text of Griswold’s anthology agrees with the Ingram MS. except in line 28 (where it follows the Providence Journal). The text of Griswold’s edition (1850) reverts to the text of the Providence Journal in omitting the tenth stanza, but it departs from that text in simplifying the title, in making slight changes in lines 57 and 59, and in correcting the typographical errors.

What authority Griswold had for the text adopted in his edition (1850) is not clear. Perhaps he followed a manuscript found among Poe’s papers, perhaps he used a revised clipping of the text published in the Providence Journa1. It is plain, though, that the text of his edition does not represent Poe’s latest revision. The text adopted by Griswold in his anthology (published in December, 1849) was probably based on a manuscript sent him by Poe in the spring or summer of 1849. The tenth stanza, omitted in the Providence Journal and in 1850, was said by Mrs. Whitman (Stoddard, I, p. 150) to have been dropped at her suggestion, but by Miss Ingram to have been dropped because of its obscurity. Miss Ingram adds that the poet confessed to her that the poem “was scarcely clear to himself” (see her account in the New York Herald, February 19, 1905 — reproduced in part by Woodberry, II, pp. 329 f.). [page 268:]

In the Whig Review and in the Home Journal, the poem appeared anonymously. In the Home Journal, it is preceded by the following comment by Willis (under the strange caption, “Epicureanism of Language”):

We do not know how many readers we have who will enjoy as we do, the following exquisitely piquant and skilful exercise of rarity and niceness of language. It is a poem which we find in the American Review, full of beauty and oddity in sentiment and versification, but a curiosity, (and a delicious one, we think,) in its philologic flavor. Who is the author?

[Cf. in this connection Poe’s letter to Willis of December 8, 1847 (Woodberry, II, p. 233).]

Willis’s query called forth an article — entitled “Poe’s Last Poem” and apparently by H. B. Hirst — in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier of January 22, 1848, in which Ulalume is copied from the Whig Review and is declared to be “undoubtedly” the work of Poe. “No other American poet,” urges the writer of this article, “has the same command of language and power of versification: it is in no one else’s vein — it is too charnel in its nature.... ‘Ulalume’ is a continuation of the same Golgothian idiosyncrasy that produced the ‘Conqueror Worm.’”

The Courier article called forth, in turn, the republication of the poem in the Providence Journal (November 22, 1848), together with a notice — evidently inspired by Poe — in which Ulalume is formally accredited to him. This notice begins by quoting Willis’s comment in the Home Journal (as above), and then proceeds as follows:

In copying the paragraph above from Willis’ “Home Journal,” the “Saturday Courier,” of Philadelphia, gave the usual credit by appending the words, “Home Journal, N. P. Willis.” A Southern paper mistook the words, however, as a reply to the query just preceding — “Who is the author?” and thus, in reprinting the ballad, assigned it to the pen of Willis: — but, by way of rendering unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, we now correct the mistake — which would have been natural enough but for the wide difference of style between “Ulalume” and anything written by Willis. “Ulalume,” although published anonymously in the “American Review,” is known to be the composition of EDGAR A. POE.

It was this notice in the Providence Journal that Poe sent to Duyckinck in a letter of February 16, 1849 (Letters, p. 33 s), with a request that he copy it into the Literary World. Duyckinck reprinted the poem (but not according to the Providence Journal, as has already [page 269:] been noted), and prefaced it, not with the words from the Journal, but with the following puff of his own (Literary World, March 3, 1849):

The following fascinating poem, which is from the pen of EDGAR A. POE, has been drifting about in the Newspapers under anonymous or mistaken imputation of authorship, — having been attributed to N. P. WILLIS. We now restore it to its proper owner. It originally appeared without name in the American Review. In peculiarity of versification, and a certain cold moonlight witchery, it has much of the power of the author’s “Raven.”

Meaning. Ulalume has proved very much of a riddle to the commentators. The interpretations that have been proposed differ widely. Edwin Markham holds (Poe’s Works, I, p. xxxvii) that the poem “chronicles in symbol the collision between an ignoble passion and the memory of an ideal love.” Professor W. P. Trent (The Raven, etc., p. 14, note) advances a similar theory, suggesting that the “miraculous crescent” of line 35 “is, perhaps, symbolical of some new love influence dawning on the poet’s life.” Professor F. l. Pattee, who gives an extended analysis of the poem in the Chautauquan of August, 1900 (XXXI, pp. 182-186), finds in the poem an expression of Poe’s yearning after sympathy, after the companionship of some friend who could understand him; and suggests that it was Mrs. Shew who “gave Poe this vision of a new life.” Professor Fruit, also (The Mind and Art of Poe’s Poetry, p. 77), sees in the poem — in the mention of “Astarte’s bediamonded crescent” — an allusion to Mrs. Shew.

But Mr. J. M. Robertson is unable to find in the poem any reference whatever to a new love. “The meaning of the poem,” he declares (New Essays, pp. 89-90), “is this: the poet has fallen into a reverie in the darkness; and his brain ... is carrying on a kind of dual consciousness, compounded of a perception of the blessed peace of the night and a vague, heavy sense of his abiding grief, which has for the moment drifted into the background. In this condition he does what probably most of us have done in connection with a minor trouble — dreamily asks himself, ‘What was the shadow that was brooding on my mind, just a little while ago?’ and then muses, ‘If I have forgotten it, why should I wilfully revive my pain, instead of inhaling peace while I may?’ ... The Psyche is the obscure whisper of the tired heart, the suspended memory, that will not be wholly appeased with the beauty of the night and the stars; and the poet has but cast into a mystical dialogue the interplay of the waking and the half-sleeping sense, which goes on till some cypress, some symbol of the grave, flashes its deadly [page 270:] message on the shrinking soul, and grief leaps into full supremacy.” Professor E. E. Hale (Stories and Poems by Poe, p. xvi) also rejects the theory of an allusion to Mrs. Shew or to some other lady friend, holding that the “miraculous crescent” represents the poet’s dream of “rest and peace in a vaguely perceived but lofty and beautiful ideal.”

Mrs. Whitman, who claimed to have discussed with’Poe the history and meaning of the poem (see Letters, pp. 426-427), held that it is “in its basis, although not in the precise correspondence of time, simply historical” (Poe and his Critics, p. 29). “Such,” she declares, “was the poet’s lonely midnight walk — such, amid the desolate memories and sceneries of the hour, was the new-born hope enkindled within his heart at sight of the morning star (sic) —

‘Astarte’s bediamonded crescent —’

coming up as the beautiful harbinger of love and happiness yet awaiting him in the untried future, and such the sudden transition of feeling, the boding dread, that supervened on discovering that which had at first been unnoted, that it shone, as if in mockery or in warning, directly over the sepulchre of the lost ‘Ulalume.’”

Mr. Ingram (pp. 338-339) accepts Mrs. Whitman’s interpretation; as does also the French translator of Poe’s poems, Mallarmé (Les Poemes d’Edgar Poe, p. 146). And Professor Woodberry (II, p. 232) appears to indorse the same general view. The poem, he says, “is autobiography translated into imagination, and speaking a new language”; and he quotes by way of gloss a passage from the reminiscences of C. C. Burr (Nineteenth Century, February, 1852 (V, pp. 19-33)): “Many times after the death of his beloved wife, was he found at the dead hour of a winter night, sitting beside her tomb almost frozen in the snow, where he had wandered from his bed, weeping and wailing.” “This,” remarks Mr. Woodberry, “is the figure that goes with the poem, like an illustration, interpreting it to the sense.”

Obviously the interpretation that we shall make of the poem will depend to some extent upon the view that we adopt as to its date. If written in the summer of 1846, Ulalume cannot have any reference to Mrs. Shew, for Poe did not meet her until the fall or winter of that year; besides, the rupture with Mrs. Shew did not come until 1848, six months after the poem was published; and Poe could scarcely have thought of her influence as malevolent (see the last stanza of the poem). It would be more reasonable to suppose (if we are to find in the poem any reference to a false or disappointed love — which seems to us [page 271:] unnecessary) that the allusion was to Mrs. Osgood, against whom the poet appears to have felt resentment after her rupture with him in June, 1846. But whatever our conclusions as to the secondary import of the poem, we cannot escape the conclusion that the central reference is to the poet’s wife, and that the poem is a reflection of the grief occasioned either by her death or by the anticipation of her death (or by both).

Critical Estimates. In their estimates of Ulalume the critics have differed more widely, if possible, than in its interpretation. The poet Stoddard — to quote first the least sympathetic of the critics — writes of the poem (in his biographical sketch of Poe (I, p. 149)) as follows:

The mood of mind in which it was conceived was no doubt an imaginative one, but it was not, I think, on the hither side of the boundary between sense and madness. I can perceive no touch of grief in it, no intellectual sincerity, but a diseased determination to create the strange, the remote, and the terrible, and to exhaust ingenuity in order to do so. No healthy mind was ever impressed by “Ulalume,” and no musical sense was ever gratified with its measure.

Mr. W. C. Brownell (pp. 216-217), though he holds, at variance with Stoddard, that there is something of sincerity in the poem, declares that “the apparatus of repetend and empty assonance ... tries the reader’s nerves,” and that: “Even here one feels the aptness of Emerson’s bland reference to [the poet] ... as the ‘jingle man,’ and notes the artist rather than the poet and the technician rather than the artist.” Andrew Lang (Poems of Poe, p. xxiv) holds that the poem “attracts or repels by mere sounds as vacant as possible of meaning.” And Mr. J. M. Robertson (p. 87), who defends the poem against most of Stoddard’s strictures, nevertheless concedes that it “trenches too far on pure mysticism for entire artistic success,” and that it is “marked by an undue subordination of meaning to music.”

Professor Curtis Hidden Page (Chief American Poets, p. 659) states it as his belief that Ulalume is Poe’s “greatest poem.” And Professor Woodberry (II, pp. 234-235), after noting obvious blemishes, as the slowness of movement, the “jarring discords, cockney rhymes,” etc., declares that The criticism that finds in the ballad ... merely a whimsical experiment in words has little to go on.” “It is more likely,” he adds, “that ... we have, in this poem, the most spontaneous, the most unmistakably genuine utterance of Poe, the most clearly self-portraying work of his hand.” Stedman (Stedman and Woodberry, X, p. xxxiii), declares that the poem is “by no means a caprice of grotesque sound [page 272:] and phraseology”; and elsewhere he says (Poets of America, p. 246): “It is so strange, so unlike anything that preceded it, so vague and yet so full of meaning, that of itself it might establish a new method. To me it seems an improvisation, such as a violinist might play upon the instrument which had become his one thing of worth after the death of a companion had left him alone with his own soul.” Mallarmé indorses the opinion of Mrs. Whitman, that it is “perhaps the most original and the most strangely suggestive of all Poe’s poems” (Les Poèmes d’ Edgar Poe, p. 146).

With regard to Poe’s use of the repetend in Ulalume, Theodore Watts-Dunton writes in the Encyclopædia Britannica (s.v. “Poetry”):

The poet’s object in that remarkable tour de force was to express dull and hopeless gloom in the same way that the mere musician would have expressed it — that is to say, by monotonous reiterations, by hollow and dreadful reverberations of gloomy sounds — though as an artist whose vehicle was articulate speech he was obliged to add gloomy ideas, in order to give to his work the intellectual coherence necessary for its existence as a poem. He evidently set out to do this, and he did it, and “Ulalume” properly intoned would produce something like the same effect upon a listener knowing no word of English that it produces upon us.

Sources, Imitations, etc. Ulalume is obviously one of the most original poems that Poe wrote. But H. B. Hirst, in his article in the Saturday Courier of January 22, 1848, denies to the poem anything of originality whatever. The “leading idea” of the poem, he declares, was taken from T. Buchanan Read’s Christine (see the note on lines 56-60), while the suggestion of certain lines came from his own poem, Endymion (see the notes on lines 30-38). Another contemporary, J. A. Tinnon, endeavored to show (Graham’s Magazine, February, 1851 (XXXVIII, pp. 120-122)) that “the ideas clearly suggestive of every part [of the poem] maybe found in Byron’s ‘Manfred.’” But the sole agreement between Poe’s poem and Byron’s appears to be in the use of the name “Astarte.” Something more of plausibility attaches to the suggestion of Professor W. C. Bronson (History of American Literature, p. 169, note) that the “metrical movement” of Ulalume may have been influenced by one of the songs in Prometheus Unbound (Act II, end of scene iv).

The poem belongs to the well-known and ancient narrative genre of the dialogue (or debate) between the body and the sou1. This genre was extremely popular in the Middle Ages, and one example of it is preserved in Old English. Among other examples in American poetry [page 273:] are Whittier’s My Soul and I, Whitman’s Darest thou now, O Soul, and Mr. Clinton Scollard’s Soul to Body. (See for the vogue of the soul and body poem in the Middle Ages, G. Kleinert’s Ueber den Streit zwischen Leib und Seele, Halle, 1880, and T. Batiouchkof, “Le Dêbat de l’ame et du corps,” Romania, 1891, pp. 1 f., 513 f.)

Parodies of the poem have been written by Bret Harte in his The Willows, and by Thomas Hood (the younger) in some verses which he entitles Ravings.

Title. The title Ulalume was perhaps suggested to Poe by the Latin ululare (to wail); though it may also owe something to the word “Eulalie,” — “Ulalume” connoting grief and gloom, while “Eulalie” suggests lightsomeness and joy. It is possible, too, that the final syllable was influenced by the word “gloom.”

In the Whig Review, the title includes a dedicatory ascription “To — — — ”; but to whom Poe meant to refer, we can only conjecture: not to his wife, apparently, for although she was christened “Virginia Elizabeth,” the second of her given names was usually dropped; and it could hardly have been to Mrs. Shew, and certainly not to her if Ulalume was written in 1846. Possibly it was meant for Mrs. Osgood, to whom Poe had addressed A Valentine in February, 1846.

1 The omission of the word “they” in the text of the Providence Journal is doubtless to be traced to typographical error, and so also with the variants of the Journal text in lines 31, 32, 51, 76.

2, 3 sere, sere. Professor C. A. Smith (Repetition and Parallelism in English Verse, p. 49) notes that the perfect rhyme here “is not felt to be a blemish, because the second ‘sere’ receives much less emphasis than the first.”

4 October. As is pointed out above, Ulalume was written, not in the autumn, but in the spring or summer (either of 1846 or of 1847). The word “October” is used, in all likelihood, because of its connotation of sadness and of its sonorousness (see in this connection Letters, p. 427).

5 my most immemorial year. The epithet “immemorial” refers with equal aptness to 1846 and to 1847. On January 30, 1847, Mrs. Poe died, and following her death Poe was extremely ill for several months; though by the summer he had recovered both health and spirits, and by the autumn he had come to resume very much the manner of life that had characterized the period preceding his wife’s death. The year 1846 was made memorable by a serious and prolonged illness during the first half of the year, which incapacitated the poet for all work of any moment; by his rupture with Mrs. Osgood; by the publication [page 274:] of the Literati and the loss, in consequence, of many of his friends; and by the public revelation toward the end of the year of his poverty. Throughout the year 1846, moreover, the poet was oppressed by the inevitable approach of his wife’s death.

6 Auber. Perhaps coined by Poe. There is a district in France called “Aube.” And there was a French composer of operas, Daniel Francois Auber (1782-1871), whose name was probably known to Poe. It will be observed that “Auber” is made to rhyme with “October.”

7 Weir. Like “Auber,” a “myth-name.” It may have been suggested either by the common noun or by the well-known family name.

In the original this line ends with a colon. The punctuation of the original has been departed from in about a dozen other lines, the most noteworthy changes being the substitution of colons for dashes before the quotations in lines 39, 52, 61, 78, 80, 85, 95.

13 The insertion of “the” before “days” in the text printed in the Literary World was in all probability traceable to typographical error.

14 scoriac. Neither the Century Dictionary nor the New English Dictionary cites an earlier use of this word. Poe uses the word “scoria” in his Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (Harrison, III, p. 231).

16 Yaanek. Another myth-name. The word was suggested to Poe, I suspect, by the Asiatic “Janik” or “Yanik,” a district in Trebizond.

30-38 It was this stanza that H. B. Hirst, Poe’s Philadelphia satellite, accused the poet of having plagiarized from one of the stanzas of his Endymion (see the Saturday Courier, January 22, 1848). The absurdity of the accusation is demonstrated by Poe in his reply to Hirst (Harrison, XIII, p. 211). The nineteenth stanza of Hirst’s poem runs thus:

Slowly Endymion bent, the light Elysian

Flooding his figure. Kneeling on one knee

He loosed his sandals, lea

And lake and woodland glittering on his vision,

A fairy land, all bright and beautiful,

With Venus at her full.

33 our. Poe, by a slip of the memory, doubtless, substitutes “my” for “our” in his citation of this stanza in his reply to Hirst, mentioned above (Harrison, XIII, p. 212).

34 nebulous lustre. See the introductory note, above, for the various interpretations that have been proposed.

[[first printing]]

37 Astarte’s. Astarte, identified in Eulalie (1. 19) with the planet Venus, is here identified with the moon. Cf. Paradise Lost, I, l. 439: Astarte, queen of heaven, with crescent horns.

[[second printing]]

37 Astarte’s bediamonded crescent. The reference is to the plant Venus, which in some of its phases assumes the appearance of a crescent; see Young’s General Astronomy (Boston, 1916), p. 353.

[page 275:]

39 She is warmer than Dian. With the Phoenicians, Astarte was the goddess of love and the counterpart of Baa1. Diana, among the Romans, was the chaste goddess of the moon.

41 She revels in a region of sighs. An exceptionally lame line for Poe’s later years. Ransome (Edgar Allan Poe, A Critical Study, p. 139) cites the line as an example of “an apparent deafness or bluntness” exhibited occasionally by the poet.

42 dry on. Robertson (p. 88) finds in this a flaw, and remarks that, as a rhyme-word for “Dian” and “Lion,” it “is truly an exhaustion of ingenuity.” But Bishop Newton has the rhyme “rely on,” “Sion” in his hymn, Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken, ll. 24, 26.

43 where the worm never dies. Cf. Isaiah lxvi, 24, and the echoes of this passage in Mark ix, 44, 46, 48.

50 luminous eyes. A favorite collocation with Poe: cf. A Valentine, l. 1, and the poet’s pen-picture of Mrs. Osgood in the Literati (Harrison, XV, p. 104). For other references to the eyes, see the note on Tamerlane, l. 111.

56-60 With these lines are to be compared the following stanzas of T. B. Read’s Christine (ll. 21-24), itself a palpable imitation of Locksley Hall:

Then my weary soul went from me, and it walked the world alone,

O’er a wide and brazen desert, in a hot and brazen zone!

There it walked and trailed its pinions, slowly trailed them in the sands,

With its hopeless eyes fixed blindly, with its hopeless folded hands.

These stanzas, says H. B. Hirst in his article in the Saturday Courier (January 22, 1848), gave to Poe the “leading idea” of his poem. The parallel with Read’s lines is evident; but Hirst plainly exaggerates its importance.

57 till. Griswold’s reading — “until” — is probably a typographical error.

[[first printing]]

75 the. The Examiner proof sheets, according to Whitty’s text, substitute “a” for the second “the”; this obviously gives an inferior reading, and may well be attributable to a printer’s error.

[[second printing]]

72, 75, 78 The rhymes vista, kissed her, sister are objected to by J. Savage in the Democratic Review, February, 1851 (XXVIII, p. 169); but they were probably introduced for their fantastic effect.

[[resume first printing]]

95-104 Omitted by Griswold (1850) and the Providence Journa1. See, for the suggested explanations of this, the prefatory note above.

103 sinfully scintillant. Cf. the note on line 39. [page 276:]


(Sartain’s Union Magazine, March, 1848; 1850)

(TEXT: 1850)

Written in the autumn of 1847 (see Poe’s letter of November 27, 1847, to Mrs. Lewis (Letters, p. 286)). The text here adopted — that of Griswold (1850) — differs from the text of the Union Magazine only in the title and in the reading “tuckermanities” for “Petrarchanities” in line 10. What authority Griswold had for his text is not clear; perhaps he followed a manuscript sent to Mrs. Lewis in 1847, perhaps he used a revised clipping or some other manuscript found among Poe’s papers or in the possession of Mrs. Lewis.

The poem — one of Poe’s least creditable performances — was inspired by his friendship for Mrs. Estelle Anna Lewis, a poetess, first of Baltimore, and later of Brooklyn, whose name (or, rather, the name, Sarah Anna Lewis, adopted in her volume, Records of the Heart) is to be read out of the poem by juxtaposing the first letter of the first line, with the second letter of the second line, and so on. At what time Poe and Mrs. Lewis became acquainted is uncertain, but the two families were closely associated during the last year of the poet’s life, and it was perhaps through Mrs. Lewis that Poe’s wish was conveyed to Griswold that he should serve as his literary executor (Woodberry, II, p. 450). When Griswold’s “Memoir” appeared, Mrs. Lewis sided with Griswold (see her letter of September 20, 1850 (Letters, pp. 415-416)); but she subsequently took Mrs. Clemm to live with her, and demonstrated in other ways her loyalty to the poet. Poe published an extravagant encomium of her writings in the Democratic Review of August, 1848, and followed this up by a longer notice in the Southern Literary Messenger for the following month; and he also wrote still other notices in praise of her. See, for further details, Woodberry, II, pp. 308 f. and passim; Ingram, pp. 413 f., 447 f.; Harrison, I, pp. 300f., XIII, pp. 155 f., 215 f., XVII, pp. 286, 359 f., 415 f.; Griswold’s Correspondence, p. 252; Miss Ticknor’s Poe’s Helen; and an interesting article by Ingram, “Edgar Allan Poe and ‘Stella,’” in the Albany Review, I, pp. 417-423. The bibliographers mention the following works by Mrs. Lewis: Sappho of Lesbos; Records of the Heart; Child of the Sea; Myths of the Minstrel; Helemeh, or the Fall of the Montezuma. [page 277:]

4, 8 bonnet, con it. Lowell adopts the same rhyme in a sonnet, To Miss Norton (1869), a jeu d’‘esprit, the suggestion of which he credits to Lope de Vega’s sonnet beginning, “Un soneto me manda hacer Violante.” Poe perhaps wrote with Lope de Vega’s sonnet in mind; and Lowell doubtless knew Poe’s sonnet.

10 tuckermanities. The reference is to Henry T. Tuckerman, poet, critic, and biographer of Poe’s friend, John Pendleton Kennedy. Poe had publicly expressed his disapproval of Tuckerman as early as 1841, in the following passage in his Autography (Harrison, XV, p. 217): “He is a correct writer so far as mere English is concerned, but an insufferably tedious and dull one.” See also some uncomplimentary remarks in a letter of December 25, 1842 (Woodberry, I, pp. 347 f.), from which it appears that Tuckerman, like Kennedy, had at some time objected to the extravagant in Poe’s writings. There is also a slighting reference to Tuckerman in a letter quoted by Griswold (I, p. xlv): “I cannot write any more for the Milliner’s Book [i.e., Godey’s], where T —— n prints his feeble and very quietly made dilutions of other people’s reviews”; and Poe also takes a fling at him in the opening paragraph of his tale, The Angel of the Odd. Tuckerman had declined Poe’s tale, The Tell-Tale Heart, when offered to him for the Boston Miscellany in 1842 (Letters, p. 125).

Instead of “tuckermanities,” the Union Magazine has “Petrarchanities.” Tuckerman published an article on Petrarch in the American Whig Review for May, 1845 (pp. 468 f.), and he also contributed sonnets about the same time to the Democratic Review.

TO —— —— —— (121)

(Columbian Magazine, March, 1848; 1850)

(TEXT: Columbian Magazine)

Inspired, like the lines To M. L. S —— , by Mrs. Marie Louise Shew. See for the friendship of Poe with Mrs. Shew the general note on To M. L. S —— . The poem was probably written not long before publication.

The text of Griswold agrees with that of the Columbian Magazine (adopted here) save for slight differences in punctuation, the omission of the third dash in the title, and the misprint “unpurpled” for “empurpled” in line 26; but Poe sent Mrs. Shew a manuscript copy of [page 278:] the poem which differs in several interesting particulars from the published text. This text, which bears the title To Marie Louise, introduces several lines after the first half of line 16 (see Stedman and Woodberry, X, pp. 194-195).

1-3 Not long ago ... Maintained “the power of words.” The reference is to Poe’s article The Power of Words, first published in the Democratic Review for June, 1845, and later in the Broadway Journal of October 25, 1845 (see Harrison, VI, pp. 139 f.).

7 two foreign soft dissyllables. The given names of Mrs. Shew, “Marie Louise.”

9, 10 “dew That hangs ... on Hermon hill.” Misquoted from a passage in Peele’s David and Bethsabe (based on Psalms cxxxiii, 3). The same quotation occurs in Politian ll. 34-35.

15 “the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.” A part of the quotation from Sale’s “Preliminary Discourse” on the Koran, used as the motto of Israfel (see the notes on Israfel).

20-27 Professor F. L. Pattee (Chautauquan, XXXI, p. 186) cites this passage in support of his theory that the fourth stanza of Ulalume has reference to Mrs. Shew.

26 empurpled vapors. The reading of the manuscript version described above, “the clouds of glory,” is possibly a reminiscence of Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality.


(Union Magazine, November, 1849; Union Magazine, December, 1849)

(TEXT: Union Magazine, November, 1849)

Text and Circumstances of Composition. The evolution of The Bells has a highly interesting history. The poem had perhaps been vaguely germinating in Poe’s mind for a number of years before it was reduced to writing (see the suggestion of Woodberry (II, p. 259) and a statement made by Poe’s friend Thomas and repeated by Whitty, p. 233); but the earliest written draft of it was made during the summer of 1848, when the poet was on a visit at the home of Mrs. M. L. Shew, in New York City. Mrs. Shew declares that she herself suggested the subject and was responsible for two lines of this draft (see her account as given by Ingram, pp. 361 f.). A second draft — perhaps that published in the Union Magazine in December, 1849 — was written on February 6, [page 279:] 1849 (Letters, p. 331). A third draft — probably that of the Morgan MS. described below — was written, it appears (see Woodberry, II, p. 308), at Lowell, Massachusetts, late in May, 1849. And a fourth draft (or, more precisely, revision) was made shortly after this and sent to the Union Magazine. And it was in this form, evidently, that the poem was published in the Union Magazine in November, 1849.

In a note accompanying the second draft of the poem as published in the Union Magazine in December, 1849, John Sartain, the proprietor of that magazine, gives the following particulars concerning the submission of the poem to him:

EDGAR A. POE. The singular poem of Mr. Poe’s, called “The Bells,” which we published in our last Number, has been very extensively copied. There is a curious piece of literary history connected with this poem, which we may as well give now as at any other time. It illustrates the gradual development of an idea in the mind of a man of original genius. This poem came into our possession about a year since. It then consisted of eighteen lines! ...

About six months after this, we received the poem enlarged and altered nearly to its present size and form, and about three months since the author sent another alteration and enlargement, in which condition the poem was left at the time of his death.

In a further account, in his Reminiscences of a Very Old Man (p. 220), Sartain states that the total amount paid for the several drafts of the poem was forty-five dollars. In an earlier account (Lippincott’s Magazine, March, 1889 (p. 411)) he disposes of the invidious allegation of Stoddard (ibid., January, 1889 (p. 112)) that The Bells was “sold thrice, and paid for every time.”

In the original draft made at Mrs. Shew’s suggestion, the poem ran to only seventeen lines. In the earliest of the texts sent to Sartain (reproduced in the footnotes of the present edition from Ingram’s article in the London Bibliophile, May, 1909), it numbered eighteen lines. In the final text sent to Sartain — that published in November, 1849, and followed in the present edition — it runs to 112 lines.

Besides the three versions (the Shew MS. and the two printed versions) already mentioned, there is a late revision of the poem preserved in proof sheets intended for publication in the Richmond Examiner in the fall of 1849 (see Whitty, p. 230); and there is also a manuscript copy of the poem (lacking the last fourteen lines), now in the possession of Mr. J. P. Morgan of New York City (reproduced in facsimile by Gill (opposite page 206) and in part by Woodberry (II, opposite page 258) [page 280:] and by Ingram in the London Bibliophile for May, 1909 (pp. 129 f.)). The Examiner proof sheets exhibit one verbal variant from the Union text — “Yes” for “Yet” in line 61 — and also several variations in punctuation. The Morgan MS., which evidently antedates the text first published in the Union Magazine, falls in with the Examiner proof sheets in reading “Yes” for “Yet,” and it also agrees with it, as a rule, in punctuation; but it exhibits several verbal variants that appear in neither the Union text nor the Examiner proof sheets (see the notes on lines 56, 80, 88).

Sources. Professor Woodberry holds (II, p. 259) that Poe probably drew the original suggestion of The Bells from a passage in Chateaubriand’s Génie du Christianisme (Paris, 1836), III, p. 43. This passage runs as follows:

Il nous semble que si nous étions poète, nous ne dédaignerions point cette cloche agitée par les fantômes dans la vieille chapelle de la forêt, ni celle qu’une religieuse frayeur balançoit dans nos campagnes pour écarter le tonnerre, ni celle qu’on sonnoit la nuit, dans certains ports de mer, pour diriger le pilote à travers les écueils. Les carillons des cloches, au milieu de nos fêtes, sembloient augmenter l’allégresse publique; dans des calamités, au contraire, ces mêmes bruits devenoient terribles. Les cheveux dressent encore sur la tête au souvenir de ces jours de meurtre et de feu, retentissant des clameurs du tocsin. Qui de nous a perdu la mémoire de ces hurlements, de ces cris aigus, entrecoupés de silences, durant lesquels on distinguoit de rares coups de fusil, quelque voix lamentable et solitaire, et surtout le bourdonnement de la cloche d’alarme, ou le son de l’horloge qui frappoit tranquillement l’heure écoulée?

F. W. Thomas states in his reminiscences (see Whitty, p. 233) that Poe told him that Dickens’s Chimes furnished the “final inspiration” of The Bells. The poet may have drawn certain hints, also, from a poem entitled Bells published in the New York Mirror of March 19, 1836 (and republished in the Richmond Enquirer of March 24, 1836, while Poe was editing the Southern Literary Messenger). The initial stanza of this poem runs thus:

The distant bells! the distant bells!

I hear them faint and low,

And Fancy, with her magic spells,

Is waken’d by their flow;

The billowy sounds so deeply fraught

With memories of the past,

Stir many a sad and pleasing thought,

As on the breeze they ‘re cast. [page 281:]

The remaining stanzas begin as follows:

“The school-day bell! the school-day bell!”

“The merry bells! the merry bells!”

“The vesper bell! the vesper bell!”

“The Sabbath bells! the Sabbath bells!”

“The tolling bell! the tolling bell!”

Among other poems on bells published in Poe’s time — the subject seems to have been much in vogue — are the following: 1) a translation of Schiller’s Song of the Bell in the Democratic Review, March, 1845; 2) The Song of the Bell in Littell’s Living Age, December 12, 1846; 3) T. B. Read’s Bells, in his Poems, published at Philadelphia, 1847 (pp. 111 f.); and (4) The Merry Sleigh Bell in the Union Magazine of March, 1848. There was also an essay dealing with the fascination of the sound of bells in the Home Journal, February 13, 1847; and Hawthorne had dealt with the subject in one of his descriptive sketches, A Bell’s Biography (1837). Most of these, doubtless, fell under Poe’s eye, and some of them may have exercised some influence on him.

Critical Estimates. The Bells has been praised without stint for its onomatopoetic effects. Professor Harrison (I, p. 287) compares it with Southey’s Lodore and Hugo’s Les Djinns, to Poe’s advantage in each case. Edwin Markham (I, p. xxxvi) holds that it is “the finest example in our language of the suggestive power of rhyme and of the echo of sound to sense.” According to Professor Newcomer (Poe: Poems and Tales, p. 304), “The Bells has made all other onomatopoetic poems in our literature seem cheap in comparison.” Stoddard declares (I, p. 172): “If I were called upon to express my opinion of Poe as a poetic artist, I should say that ’The Bells’ was the most perfect example of his ‘power of words,’ if not, indeed, the most perfect example of that kind of power in all poetic literature.” In the popular estimation the poem is rated above all other poems by Poe, save The Raven; but although it contains highly imaginative passages and is not without emotion and must always be accounted remarkable for its onomatopoetic qualities, it is obvious that it is — even more notably than The Raven — an artificial production.

11 tintinnabulation. Perhaps a coinage of Poe’s out of Latin tintinnabulum; no earlier example of its use is recorded by either the Oxford Dictionary or the Century Dictionary. Whitty (p. 233) quotes a passage from Poulson’s Daily Advertiser concerning bells [page 282:] (found, so he states, among the clippings in an old “Marginalia” book kept by Poe) in which the word Tintin-nabula appears.

15 The dash at the end of this line does not appear in the original.

20 molten-golden notes. Cf. Maurice Thompson’s To Sappho, ll. 53-54:

Thy song perforce will fill my throat

And burn it with each golden, molten note.

40-50 Stedman, in commenting on these lines (Poets of America, p. 244), remarks that “it is a master-stroke that makes us hear [the bells] shriek out of tune”; and he goes on to say in defense of the “extravagance” of the imagery, that it “so carries us with it that we think not of its meaning; we share in the delirium of the bells.”

50 pale-faced moon. Cf. 1 Henry IV, I, iii, l. 202:

To pluck bright Honour from the pale-fac’d moon.

56 On. The Morgan MS. reads “In.”

61 Yet. Both the Morgan MS. and the Examiner proof sheets (see Whitty, p. 65) read “Yes.” It is possible that the reading of the Union Magazine here is due to a printer’s error, though it furnishes a more nearly perfect parallelism with line 57.

65 anger. Instead of this word, the Morgan MS. had originally “clamor,” but this is stricken out in favor of the present reading. Similarly, in line 69 “anger” is deleted, and “clamor” substituted.

70 This and line 99 are the only lines from the briefer Union text that are retained unaltered in the final text of the poem; only one line (99) remains unaltered from the Shew MS.

75 menace. The Morgan MS. originally read “meaning,” for which this was later substituted.

77 From the rust within their throats. In the Morgan MS. this originally read, “From out their ghostly throats.”

80 The Morgan MS. originally read, quite tamely, “Who live up in the steeple”; the words “Who live,” however, are deleted in the manuscript, and “They that sleep” substituted; and this reading, in turn, gave way to that of the present text.

88 They are Ghouls. The gain in directness and emphasis through the substitution of these three words for the two lines that appear in the Morgan MS. —

But are pestilential carcases (sic) disparted from their souls —

Called Ghouls —

is readily obvious.

91 In the Morgan MS. the line is written as a part of line 90. [page 283:]

TO HELEN (126)

(Union Magazine, November, 1848; 1850)

(TEXT: 1850)

This poem is addressed to Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, the poetess, of Providence, Rhode Island. It was written at some time during the first half of the year 1848 (see Woodberry, II, pp. 374 f., and Last Letters of Edgar Allan Poe to Sarah Helen Whitman, ed. Harrison, p. 40) in response to a poem of Mrs. Whitman’s (The Raven), which had been read at a valentine party in New York on February 14, 1848, and published in the Home Journal of March 18, 1848. The text of Griswold’s edition, which is followed here, contains two lines not found in the Union text (see the note on lines 26-28). Griswold’s authority for these was probably some corrected clipping found among Poe’s papers, though he may have used some manuscript which had been sent by Poe to Mrs. Whitman.

Poe’s love affair with Mrs. Whitman furnishes one of the most romantic episodes in his very romantic career. The two first met in September, 1848, but if Poe’s own account may be believed, he had cherished in secret an affection for Mrs. Whitman for several years; To Helen, indeed, purports to refer to the occasion of his first seeing her in the summer of 1845. Poe proposed marriage, it seems, on his first visit to Mrs. Whitman’s home, and pressed his suit with extreme ardor. In November she consented to an engagement, with the understanding that Poe should abstain from the use of intoxicants. Late in December Poe went on to Providence for the marriage, the banns were duly read, and a clergyman was engaged to perform the ceremony; but on the day before that appointed for the wedding Mrs. Whitman was informed that the poet had violated his pledge to her, and she at once broke off the engagement. They did not meet after this. Excellent summaries of the entire episode are given by Ingram, pp. 366 f., and Woodberry, II, pp. 267 f.; and a detailed account is given by Caroline Ticknor in her volume, Poe’s Helen (New York, 1916). See also Professor Harrison’s “The Romance of Poe and Mrs. Whitman” (in the Century Magazine of January, 1909 (LXXVII, pp. 440 f.)) and the volume of Mrs. Whitman’s letters already mentioned. Mrs. Whitman herself published in 1860 a book, Edgar Poe and his Critics, devoted largely to a defense of Poe against Griswold and others. [page 284:]

Mrs. Whitman’s maiden name was Power. She was born January 19, 1803, at Providence, Rhode Island. In 1828 she married John Winslow Whitman, a lawyer of Boston, who died in 1833. She contributed verses to a number of the magazines of Poe’s day, and was favorably known to Horace Greeley, George William Curtis, Mrs. Osgood, Miss Lynch, and other writers of the time. She died June 27, 1878. A collective edition of her poems, including a number inspired by Poe, was published at Boston in 1879.

To Helen is notable among Poe’s poems for its vivid picture of nature. See, for other poems in which nature plays a part, the introductory note on Evening Star.

Title. In the Union Magazine, simply To — — — , and so also in the text printed by Griswold in the New York Tribune (evening edition) of October 9, 1849, and in the 10th edition of his anthology. It is possible that the title which Griswold gives in his edition (1850) is not authentic, but Griswold is, I believe, entitled to the benefit of any doubt. He perhaps used a corrected clipping found among Poe’s papers, or, possibly, a manuscript that Poe had sent Mrs. Whitman.

1 f. Cf. Griswold’s “Memoir,” p. xlv:

His name was now [that is, late in 1848] frequently associated with that of one of the most brilliant women of New England, and it was publicly announced that they were to be married. He had first seen her on his way from Boston, when he visited that city to deliver a poem before the Lyceum there. Restless, near the midnight, he wandered from his hotel near where she lived, until he saw her walking in a garden. He related the incident afterward in one of his most exquisite poems, worthy of himself, of her, and of the most exalted passion.

Griswold is in error in assigning the incident with which the poem deals to the autumn of 1845 (the precise date of the Boston engagement was October 16); the time referred to was evidently that of his visit to Providence with Mrs. Osgood in the summer of 1845 (see the Last Letters of Poe to Mrs. Whitman, p. 8). Poe, it will be noted (lines 3 and 21), associates the incident with the month of July; and that his trip to Providence was actually made in that month is proved by Chivers’s account of his relations with Poe in 1845 (see “The Poe-Chivers Papers,” Century Magazine, January, 1903 (LXV, p. 443)). According to Miss Ticknor (Poe’s Helen, pp. 3-5, 61), Mrs. Whitman averred that Griswold was also in error in interpreting the poem as referring literally to the poet’s glimpse of her in her rose garden. [page 285:]

21, 22 I have omitted the comma after “Fate” in each line, and also — in accordance with present usage — the comma after “Sorrow.”

26-28 (Oh, Heaven! — oh, God! ... Save only thee and me.) This passage first appeared in Griswold’s edition of Poe (1850). According to Ingram (Poetical Works of Poe (New York, 1888), p. 53), the lines were omitted in the Union Magazine “contrary to the knowledge or desire of Poe.” But Mr. Whitty (p. 237) expresses doubts as to their genuineness.

28 In the original the mark of parenthesis is erroneously placed at the end of the preceding line.

34, 35 the very roses’ odors Died in the arms of the adoring airs. In an article signed “C. M.” (Caroline May?) in the Home Journal of November 25, 1848, Poe is charged with having “boldly plagiarized” this idea from a line of Mrs. S. J. Hale’s Three Hours (Philadelphia, 1848, p. 37):

The sound, it died in the arms of night.

(See for Poe’s comment, the Last Letters of Poe and Mrs. Whitman, pp. 40, 42.)

37-66 Poe makes a good deal of the eyes (see the note on Tamerlane, l. i11). Nowhere else, however, does he dwell on the eyes at such length as here.

51-56 Imitated by Baudelaire in his sonnet, Le Flambeau Vivant, ll.1,6-7:

lis marchent devant moi, ces Yeux pleins de lumieres ...

lis conduisent mes pas dans le route de Beau;

lis sont mes serviteurs et je suis leur esclave.

59, 60 Stoddard (I, p. 162) objects to what he calls the “refrain principle” in these and other lines of the poem on the ground that they do violence to the dignity of blank verse.

61 In 1850, the comma is printed inside the parenthesis.

65, 66 Cf. H. B. Hirst’s sonnet Astarte (ll. 10-11):

thy argent eyes

(Twin planets swimming through love’s lustrous skies).

The sonnet was quoted by Poe in his review of Hirst’s The Coming of the Mammoth, etc., in 1845 (Harrison, XII, pp. 179-180). [page 286:]


(Flag of Our Union, April 21, 1849; 1850)

(TEXT: 1850)

This poem, though commonly spoken of as Poe’s last poem, was evidently written in the late winter or early spring of 1849. Like the tale Von Kempelen and his Discovery, it is a product of the “gold-excitement” of ‘49 and one of many evidences of Poe’s interest in contemporary matters. The name “Eldorado” was being freely applied to the California gold-regions at the time (cf. a statement in Holden’s Magazine for February, 1849 (p. 126): “This word [Eldorado] is in everybody’s mouth just now”). Lowell had used it as the title of an article dealing with the gold-regions published in the Anti-Slavery Standard in 1848, a part of which was quoted in the Literary World of January 6, 1849; and in the Literary World for February 10, 1849, appeared a poem, Gold Seeking, which began with an allusion to the “El Dorado” myth. Bayard Taylor was to publish during the following year his volume of travels in California under the title El Dorado.

The “El Dorado” myth is said to have had its origin in the tradition of a gilded king who dwelt in one of the Guianas. The epithet “El Dorado” was presently transferred, so the story runs, to the city which this king made his capital, a city of marvelous wealth and splendor (see A. F. A. Bandelier, The Gilded One, El Dorado, New York, 1893). The legend was accepted as true by Sir Walter Raleigh, who went on an expedition to the Guianas in 1595-1596 in search of El Dorado; but, not finding it, contented himself with publishing accounts of it that he had gathered, among them the letters of certain Spaniards who professed to have authentic evidence concerning it (see Raleigh’s Voyages to Guiana (Edinburgh, 1820), pp. 8 f., 24 f., 102 f.). El Dorado is mentioned by Milton in one of his magical catalogues of names in Paradise Lost (XI, l. 411), and by Voltaire in his Candide (chap, xviii). Poe had alluded to the myth in Dream-Land and in his Letter to B —— .

The poem is finely emblematic of Poe’s own faith and aspirations, and, it may be added, also of his life. In a stirring essay entitled “Our Heritage of Idealism” (Sewanee Review, April, 1912 (XX, pp. 235f.)), Professor C. Alphonso Smith has used the poem to exemplify Poe’s “quest of the ideal”; and in the same connection he has brought [page 287:] out the parallelism with Whittier’s Vanishers, Emerson’s Forerunners, and the opening lines of Lowell’s L’Envoi.

In style the poem is remarkably simple and finished and spontaneous, and it possesses a “light-hearted lilt “(Newcomer, p. 304) that sets it quite apart from anything else that Poe wrote in his closing years.

The Griswold text reproduces the text of the Flag of Our Union except for slight corrections in the punctuation.

Title. Both the Flag of Our Union and Griswold print the title as one word, though Poe spelled it as two words in Dream-Land and in the Letter to B —— .


(Flag of Our Union, April 28, 1849; Home Journal, April 28, 1849; 1850)

(TEXT: 1850)

“Annie” was Mrs. Annie Richmond of Lowell, Massachusetts. Poe first met her in the autumn of 1848 on a visit to Lowell (see Ingram, p. 388), and they soon became warm friends. A partial record of their friendship is preserved in a number of letters that have survived (see Letters, pp. 312 f. and passim, and Ingram, pp. 392 f.). Poe also introduced Mrs. Richmond into one of his prose sketches, Landor’s Cottage (Harrison, VI, pp. 268 f.).

For Annie was probably written in February or March, 1849. Poe sent a copy of it to Mrs. Richmond on March 23, 1849 (see Letters, p. 343)

The earliest printed text of the poem is that of the Flag of Our Union for April 28, 1849. A revised draft appeared in the Home Journal of the same date. But that the Flag appeared in advance of the Home Journal is indicated both by a letter of Poe’s to Mrs. Richmond, in which he complains that the Flag “so misprinted” his lines that he was “resolved to have a true copy” (Letters, pp. 346, 351), and by an editorial notice in the Flag for May 12, 1849, in which the Home Journal is called to account for copying the poem “without a word of credit.” At some time during the summer or early autumn of 1849, Poe sent Griswold a manuscript copy for use with the tenth edition of his Poets and Poetry of America (Letters, p. 346). The same text was followed by Griswold in his edition of Poe (1850). A text exhibiting one verbal variant (“But” for “And,” in line 45) is preserved in some proof sheets made for the Richmond [page 288:] Examiner in the fall of 1849 (see Whitty, pp. viii, 240 f.). There is also an imperfect manuscript version (see the facsimile given by Ingram in the London Bibliophile for May, 1909 (p. 134)) which agrees in the main with the version printed in the Flag and which would seem to make Poe responsible for most of the “misprints” that he complains of in that text. The text here adopted is that of Griswold (1850) with slight corrections in punctuation.

In his letter to Willis asking that he reprint the poem in the Home Journal (Letters, p. 351), Poe had requested that he “say something on these lines” if they pleased him. Willis responded with the following editorial note prefixed to the poem:

Odd Poem!

The following exquisite specimen of the private property in words has been sent us by a friend, and we are glad to be able to add it to the scrap-book of singularities in literature which so many of our fair readers, doubtless, have upon the table. Poe certainly has that gift of nature, which an abstract man should be most proud of — a type of mind different from all others without being less truthful in its perceptions for that difference; and though (to use two long words) this kind of idiosyncracy is necessarily idiopathic, and, from want of sympathy, cannot be largely popular, it is as valuable as rarity in anything else, and to be admired by connoisseurs proportionately. Money (to tell a useless truth) could not be better laid out for the honor of this period of American literature — neither by the government, by a society, nor by an individual — than in giving Edgar Poe a competent annuity, on condition that he should never write except upon impulse, never dilute his thoughts for the magazines, and never publish anything till it had been written a year. And this because the threatening dropsy of our country’s literature is its copying the gregariousness which prevails in everything else, while Mr. Poe is not only peculiar in himself, but unsusceptible of imitation. We have Bulwers by hundreds, Mrs. Hemanses by thousands, Byrons common as shirt-collars, every kind of writer “by the lot,” and less of individualesque genius than any other country in the world. This extends to other things as well. Horace Greeley is a national jewel (we think) from being humbly yet fearlessly individualesque in politics and conduct. What is commonly understood by eccentricity is but a trashy copy of what we mean. The reader’s mind will easily pick out instances of the true individualesque in every walk of life, and as a mere suggestion we here leave it — proceeding to give Mr. Poe’s verses. [page 289:]

In sending a manuscript of the poem to Mrs. Richmond in March, 1849, Poe wrote her: “I think the lines ‘For Annie’ ... much the best I have ever written” (Letters, p. 344). In this judgment he has been sustained by at least one of his critics, William Stebbing, who writes (in his The Poets: Chaucer to Tennyson, II, p. 203): “I am inclined to rank it highest in Poe’s poetic work. Nothing surpasses it in soaring fancy, or equals it in ideas and spiritual power.” Stedman also praises it: “For repose, and for delicate and unstudied melody,” he says (Poets of America, p. 246), “it is one of Poe’s truest poems.” And Madame Blanc remarks (Revue des deux Mondes, May 1, 1886, p. 105): “For Annie est le plus tendre de tous les poemes de Poe.” Robertson (p. 90) pronounces the poem “a wonderful lullaby,” and adds (p. 92) that it possesses “that crowning quality of emotional plenitude which with perfection of form, makes great poetry as distinguished from fine verse.” But some of the critics find little to praise in For Annie. Professor Woodberry, for instance, in the earlier edition of his life of Poe (p. 328), alludes to the poem as “the ghoulish lines ’To Annie’”; Markham inquires, in commenting on lines 39 f. (I, p. xxxvi): “What can we say severe enough of the poetry of such verses as these?”; Newcomer, also, asserts (American Literature, p. 124) that certain stanzas are “very sorry trash”; and Richardson (American Literature, II, p. 112) characterizes the fifth and sixth stanzas as “doggerel.”

The conception underlying the poem is by no means a new one, but it is treated with extraordinary vividness of detai1. The poet represents himself as lying in the tomb, after death, and rejoicing in the release from trials and disappointments and sorrows of this life, and exulting in the dream of “Annie’s” love. (See the note on line 5 for certain parallels to this fundamental idea.)

1, 2 The punctuation of Griswold is misleading; I have substituted a comma for the dash printed by him after “crisis,” and have inserted a comma after “danger.”

5 the fever called “Living.” The idea was a favorite one with Shelley; cf. Prometheus Unbound, ll. 111-114:

Death is the veil which those who live call life:

They sleep, and it is lifted;

Sonnet, beginning

Lift not the painted veil which those who live

Call Life; [page 290:]

and Adonais, ll. 343-344:

Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep —

He hath awakened from the dream of life.

See also Adonais, ll. 352 f., 460 f.; Prometheus Unbound, III, iv, l. 190; and compare Milton’s sonnet, On the Religious Memory of Mrs. Catherine Thomson, ll. 1-4:

When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,

Had ripen’d thy just soul to dwell with God,

Meekly thou didst resign this earthy load

Of Death, call’d Life, which us from Life doth sever.

Cf. also a passage in Poe’s Mesmeric Revelation (Harrison, V, p. 250): “There are two bodies — the rudimental and the complete; corresponding with the two conditions of the worm and the butterfly. What we call ‘death’ is but the painful metamorphosis. Our present incarnation is progressive, preparatory, temporary. Our future is perfected, ultimate, immorta1. The ultimate life is the full design.”

16 Might fancy me dead. This would seem at first to involve a contradiction, but, taken in connection with the opening stanza, it is consistent enough: to the eye the lover appears to be dead (and the “painful metamorphosis called death” has been passed), but according to the poet’s conception he has now passed into a happier and truer life.

39 f. See the comment of Edwin Markham quoted above in the introductory note.

45 And. The Examiner proof sheets read “But” (see Whitty, p. 240), the only verbal variation of that text from Griswold.

56 In the interest of clearness I have inserted a comma after “Regretting.”

63, 64 A rosemary odor, Commingled with pansies. A reference to Ophelia’s words (Hamlet, IV, ll. 156 f.): “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.” Cf. also Shelley’s Remembrance, ll. 17-20:

Lilies for a bridal bed —

Roses for a matron’s head —

Violets for a maiden dead —

Pansies let my flowers be.

66 Puritan pansies. Echoed by Gerald Massey (as noted in the Southern Literary Messenger for June, 1857 (p. 479)) in his Craigcrook Castle: [page 291:]

The Pansies, pretty little puritans,

Came peeping up with merry Elvish eyes.

75 f. According to a letter to Mrs. Richmond, written November 16, 1848 (see Ingram, p. 393), Poe had exacted of Mrs. Richmond, on one of his visits to Lowell, a promise that she would “under all circumstances ... come to [him] on [his] bed of death.”

83 the queen of the angels. A reference, evidently, to the Virgin Mary (cf. the apostrophe to Mary in the lines entitled Hymn and the mention of “high-born kinsmen” in Annabel Lee, l. 17).

86, 90 The comma that follows each of these lines in 1850 I have transferred to the end of the parenthesis in the following lines.

88 See the note on line 16.

90 In the interest of consistency (see l. 86) I have inserted a comma after “Now.”


(Flag of Our Union, July 7, 1849; Leaflets of Memory, 1850; 1850)

(TEXT: 1850)

In a letter to Mrs. Richmond, without date but written not earlier than April 28 nor later than June 9, 1849 (Letters, p. 346), Poe states: “The Flag has two of my articles yet — ‘A Sonnet to my Mother’ and ‘Landor’s Cottage.’” Landor’s Cottage had been sent to the Flag at some time in March or April, 1849 (see Letters, pp. 343-344). It is probable that the present poem was sent about the same time, and that it was written towards the end of the preceding winter or in the early spring.

The text printed in the Flag (July 7, 1849) was followed by Griswold except for one verbal change — the substitution of “dear” for “sweet” in line 5 — and the omission of the word “Sonnet” in the title. The text published in Leaflets of Memory (a Philadelphia annual edited by Dr. Reynall Coates) evidently represents a revision of the Flag text. Poe probably left the manuscript of the poem with the editor of the Leaflets when he passed through Philadelphia on his way to Richmond in July, 1849. The Leaflets appeared at some time before November 17, 1849 (see the review of it in the Literary World of that date). The poem was copied from that volume in the Union Magazine of December, 1849, and also in the Southern Literary Messenger of [page 292:] the same month, being published in both magazines not as an original contribution but in the editorial section. A text identical with that of the Leaflets, save for a slight difference in spelling, is preserved in proof sheets made for the Richmond Examiner in the fall of 1849 (Whitty, p. 241). Griswold in following the Flag text so closely acted, perhaps, without authority; but the Leaflets text could not have been unknown to him (appearing, as it did, not alone in the Leaflets but in the two magazines just mentioned); the one variation that appears in his text would seem, moreover, to furnish of itself confirmation of its authenticity. The balance of evidence appears to be in Griswold’s favor, and his text has accordingly been followed in this edition.

The subject and inspiration of the poem is obviously the poet’s own aunt and mother-in-law, Mrs. Maria Clemm. The assertion that she sustained the relation of mother to the poet is supported by the testimony of all who knew her. The testimony of no one on this point is fuller or more eloquent than that of N. P. Willis, in whose office Poe was employed as assistant editor of the Mirror for several months in 1844-1845 and with whom Poe was in more or less constant communication during the last five years of his life. Willis’s tribute to Mrs. Clemm (published in his notice of Poe’s death in the Home Journal of October 13, 1849) is in part as follows:

Our first knowledge of Mr. Poe’s removal to this city [New York] was by a call which we received from a lady who introduced herself to us as the mother of his wife. She was in search of employment for him, and she excused her errand by mentioning that he was ill.... The countenance of this lady, made beautiful and saintly with an evidently complete giving up of her life to privation and sorrowful tenderness, her gentle and mournful voice urging its plea, her long-forgotten but habitually and unconsciously refined manners, and her appealing and yet appreciative mention of her son, disclosed at once the presence of one of those angels upon earth that women in adversity can be.... Winter after winter, for years, the most touching sight to us, in this whole city, has been that tireless minister to genius, thinly and insufficiently clad, going from office to office with a poem, or an article on some literary subject, to sell — sometimes simply pleading in a broken voice that he was ill, and begging for him — mentioning nothing but that “he was ill,” whatever might be the reason for his writing nothing; and never, amid all her tears and recitals of distress, suffering one syllable to escape her lips that could convey a doubt of him, or a complaint, or a lessening of pride in his genius and good intentions. Her daughter died, a year and a half since, but she did not desert him. She continued his ministering angel, — living with him — caring for him — guarding him against exposure, and, when he was carried away by [page 293:] temptation, amid grief and the loneliness of feelings unreplied to, and awoke from his self-abandonment prostrated in destitution and suffering, begging for him still. If woman’s devotion, born with a first love, and fed with human passion, hallow its object, as it is allowed to do, what does not a devotion like this — pure, disinterested, and holy as the watch of an invisible spirit — say for him who inspired it?

5 dear. Both the Flag and Leaflets of Memory read “sweet.”

7 heart of hearts. Cf. the note on Politian, III, l. 57.


(New York Tribune, October 9, 1849; Southern Literary Messenger, November, 1849; Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America, 10th edition, 1850; Union Magazine, January, 1850; 1850)

(TEXT: Southern Literary Messenger)

Date of Composition. Annabel Lee was written, we can be reasonably sure, in the late winter or spring of 1849. In a letter to Mrs. Richmond (Letters, pp. 345-346), undated, but belonging to some date between April 28 and June 9, 1849 (see the allusions to For Annie and Landor’s Cottage), Poe speaks of the poem as though it had been recently written: “I have written a ballad called ‘Annabel Lee,’ which I will send you soon.” Griswold reports that Poe assured him “just before he left New York” in June, 1849, that Annabel Lee “was the last thing he had written” (see the “Ludwig” article, reprinted by Harrison (I, p. 357)). To like effect is the testimony of John M. Daniel, who saw a good deal of Poe during the summer of 1849 (cf. the Southern Literary Messenger, XVI, p. 185). And Sartain understood the poem to have been the last that Poe wrote (see the Union Magazine, VI, p. 99). The only testimony conflicting with this view is that of Rosalie Poe (reported by Mrs. Weiss, p. 129), who declares that she “repeatedly heard” Poe read Annabel Lee in the summer of 1846, and of an unnamed correspondent of Professor Harrison, who asserts that he heard Poe recite parts of Annabel Lee in a lecture at Richmond in the summer of 1848 (Harrison, I, p. 312). But Rosalie Poe probably refers (as suggested above) to Ulalume, or possibly to Eulalie; and the statement of Professor Harrison’s correspondent obviously relates to the summer of 1849, since Poe did not lecture in Richmond in 1848.

Text. The text adopted is that of the Southern Literary Messenger (November, 1849), which follows (except for an insignificant change in [page 294:] punctuation) an autograph copy given by Poe to John R. Thompson (editor of the Messenger) on “the day before he left Richmond” in September, 1849 (Southern Literary Messenger, XV, p. 696). This text, then, has an incontestable claim to finality. Thompson reprinted the poem after the same copy in the Messenger of February, 1854 (XX, pp. 124-125), taking pains to vouch for the accuracy of his former statement. The manuscript followed by him is reproduced in facsimile by Woodberry (II, opposite page 352).

The New York Tribune text was published in the evening edition of that paper — as a part of Griswold’s famous sketch of Poe (signed “Ludwig”) — on October 9, 1849, two days after the poet’s death. It is based on a manuscript sent to Griswold in June, 1849 (see Letters, pp. 346-347), for use in the forthcoming (10th) edition of his Poets and Poetry of America, which appeared in December, 1849. All subsequent editions of this work reproduce the poem as it appeared in the tenth edition. Griswold used the same manuscript, presumably, for his edition of Poe’s poems (1850), but he there allowed two errors to slip in: “kinsman” for “kinsmen” in line 17 (perhaps under the influence of the Union Magazine) and “the” for “her” in line 40.

The text of the Union Magazine, published in January, 1850, is based on a manuscript (now in the library of Mr. J. P. Morgan) which Sartain claimed (Union Magazine, January, 1850 (VI, p. 99)) Poe had sold to him “a short time before his decease.” Poe had perhaps left the manuscript with Sartain when he passed through Philadelphia on his way to Richmond in July, 1849 (see Woodberry’s account of this visit to Philadelphia (II, pp. 309-313)), but some doubt is thrown on the accuracy of Sartain’s statement that he had “bought and paid for” the poem by a notation on the back of the manuscript to the effect that the price paid was only five dollars (see Whitty, p. 243): Poe in his letter to Griswold (Letters, pp. 346-347) had suggested to Griswold that he dispose of the poem to Graham or to Godey for fifty dollars. The Union text, as Whitty has pointed out (p. 243), does not follow the manuscript faithfully, printing “kinsman” for “kinsmen” in line 17, and disregarding Poe’s punctuation and type.

Poe had also submitted a copy of the poem (closely following the copy given Thompson) to the Richmond Examiner for publication in that paper, and the revised proofs made for this purpose are still in existence (see Whitty, pp. viii-x, 242).

Source and Inspiration. Mrs. Whitman believed that Annabel Lee was written in response to her poem, Stanzas for Music, published in [page 295:] the Metropolitan Magazine for February, 1849, and was a “veiled expression” of Poe’s “undying remembrance” of her (see the Century Magazine, January, 1909 (LXXVII, p. 447)). By others it has been held to refer to Mrs. Shelton (J. J. Moran, A Defence of Edgar Allan Poe, p. 32), to Poe’s “Baltimore Mary” (the Green Mountain Gem as cited by Woodberry (I, p. 376)), and to no one in particular (Mrs. Weiss, p. 129). But the view universally held to-day among students of Poe is that Annabel Lee was written in memory of Virginia Clemm, the poet’s child-wife. The best contemporary comment on the point is that of Mrs. Osgood, who wrote Griswold shortly after Poe’s death (Griswold’s Memoir, p. liii):

I believe she [Virginia Clemm] was the only woman whom he ever truly loved; and this is evidenced by the exquisite pathos of the little poem lately written, called Annabel Lee, of which she was the subject.... I have heard it said that it was intended to illustrate a late love affair of the author; but they who believe this, have in their dullness, evidently misunderstood or missed the beautiful meaning latent in the most lovely of all its verses — where he says,

“A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee,

So that her high-born kinsmen came,

And bore her away from me.”

There seems a strange and almost profane disregard of the sacred purity and spiritual tenderness of this delicious ballad, in thus overlooking the allusion to the kindred angels and the heavenly Father of the lost and loved and unforgotten wife.

[[first printing]]

A fairly close prose analogue of the poem is furnished by Poe’s Eleonora, in which the reference is unmistakably to the poet’s wife. The parallelism between the two has been brought out in detail by Professor Wightman F. Melton in the South Atlantic Quarterly, April, 1912 (XI, pp. 175 f.).

[[second printing]]

But the best suggestion of a possible literary source is that made by Professor R. A. Law in his article “ A Source for ‘Annabel Lee’” in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology for April, 1922 (XXI, pp. 341-346). Dr. Law calls attention to the parallel between Annabel Lee and a poem entitled “ The Mourner” published in the Charleston Courier of December 4, 1807.

[[resume first printing]]

On the relations sustained by Poe to his wife, see Mrs. Weiss, passim; Woodberry, II, p. 440; and an article by P. A. Bruce, “Did Edgar Allan Poe Love his Wife?” in the Richmond Times-Dispatch of January 7, 1912. Mrs. Weiss contends that the marriage was one of convenience; and Professor Woodberry inclines to accept this view. But Mr. Bruce holds that the poet’s affection for his wife was deep and genuine, and quotes at length from those who knew the Poe family in support of this view. [page 296:]

Estimates of the Critics. Among the critics Stoddard is the only one who has spoken in dispraise of the poem. “It is difficult to believe,” he writes in his sketch of Poe (I, p. viii), “that he [the poet] was in earnest when he penned the jingling melodies of Annabel Lee, for to be in earnest with work like that would betray a disordered intellect”; and, again (ibid., I, p. 172): “If ‘Annabel Lee’ and ‘For Annie’ possess any merit other than attaches to melodious jingle, I have not been able to discover it.” But Stedman — whose sympathy with Poe was unfailing — declares that Annabel Lee is “the simplest of Poe’s melodies, and the most likely to please the common ear,” and notes that it must have been written with greater spontaneity than was usual with the poet (cf. his Poets of America, p. 247). Professor Woodberry, also, pronounces it “the simplest and sweetest of Poe’s ballads” (II, 351). And Nichol holds (American Literature, pp. 165, 219) that it is not only “the finest” of his lyrics, but that it displays the poet’s passion “at the whitest heat.”

Title. The title was perhaps suggested, in part, by the word “Eulalie” — in part, perhaps, by the name of the poet’s friend “Annie” (Mrs. Richmond). The second half of the title may also have been influenced by P. P. Cooke’s lyric, Rosalie Lee, which Poe was accustomed to recite in his lecture on “The Poets and Poetry of America”; and the first half, possibly, by a poem, The Ladye Annabel, by another of the poet’s friends, George Lippard.

2 In a kingdom by the sea. The phrase possibly owes something to the title of Uhland’s lyric, The Castle by the Sea. Longfellow’s translation of this poem was printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier of October 7, 1843. Another translation, with the same title, was published in the Southern Literary Messenger for March, 1849 (XV, pp. 147-148)

17 kinsmen. The Union Magazine, by an atrocious typographical error, printed “kinsman” for “kinsmen ”; and this error was copied by Griswold in his edition of Poe’s poems. The allusion is clearly to the “angels ... in Heaven” (1. 21).

21, 2 Cf. Tamerlane, ll. 88-89:

’T was such as angel minds above

Might envy.

22 In the original the line closes with a semicolon.

41 by the side of the sea. The reading of the Union Magazine and of the Griswold texts, “by the sounding sea,” would seem to give [page 297:] to the poem a more sonorous ending. It may have been rejected because of its similarity to a line in Mrs. Osgood’s The Life Voyage, “Beside the sounding sea” (see Graham’s Magazine, November, 1842 (XXI, p. 265)).


One of two acrostics addressed by Poe to his Baltimore cousin, Elizabeth Rebecca Herring, and preserved in a manuscript page torn from an album belonging to her, in which it was originally written. The text follows this manuscript save for slight corrections in punctuation and spelling. The lines were probably written in 1830 or 1831.

Miss Herring, whose given names the first letters of the several lines of the poem spell out, was the daughter of Eliza Poe, paternal aunt of the poet, and Henry Herring (see Letters, p. 14). According to the records of St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore, she was born October 13, 1815. She was married — according to the records of Christ Church, Baltimore, and the marriage records of the same city — on December 2, 1834, to Andrew Turner Tutt. Poe’s love affair with her belongs, apparently, to the years 1829-1831. A volume of the 1829 edition of the poems presented to her by the poet and bearing on one of the flyleaves the words “For my Cousin Elizabeth” is in the possession of Mr. George H. Richmond, of New York City.

The lines were doubtless an improvisation, and were not included by the poet in any edition of his works.

4 Zeno. “It was a saying of this philosopher that ‘one’s own name should never appear in one’s own book.’” — POE.

7 pursuing. Spelled “persuing” in the manuscript.

14 For a similar anacoluthon, see Fairy-Land, l. 33. What “Greek name” Poe alludes to I am unable to say.


This, also, is an acrostic to the poet’s cousin, Elizabeth Herring, written in her autograph album about 1830 or a little later. The present text follows Poe’s manuscript except for several necessary changes in the pointing, the addition of a title, and a correction in spelling.

3 L. E. L. The signature of Letitia E. Landon (1802-1838), whose verses were published broadcast in the periodical press of both England and America in the third and fourth decades of last century.

[[first printing]]

4 Xanthippe’s. Spelled “Zantippe’s” in the original.

[[second printing]]

4 Zanthippe’s. The misspelling is necessitated by the acrostic.

[page 298:]

[[added to second printing]]


(Baltimore Saturday Visiter, April 20, 1833)

(TEXT: Baltimore Saturday Visiter)

This poem was not included by Poe in his collected edition of 1845, nor by Griswold in his edition of 1850; and it had escaped all subsequent editors until Professor John C. French, in 1917, succeeded in finding a file of the Baltimore Visiter for 1833. Professor French first drew attention to his discovery in the Johns Hopkins News-Letter of January 7, 1918, and subsequently in the Dial of January 31, 1918, and in an article on “Poe and the Baltimore Saturday Visiter’‘ in Modern Language Notes for May, 1918 (XXXIII, pp. 257 f.).

The text followed here is that of the Visiter save for corrections in punctuation and of typographical errors in lines 5 and 13.


(Southern Literary Messenger, March, 1836; Tales, 1840; Broadway Journal, December 6, 1845 (in each instance, incorporated in the tale Four Beasts in One))

(TEXT: Broadway Journal)

A free translation of the following Latin song:

Mille, mille, mille,

Mille, mille, mille,

Decollavimus, unus homo!

Mille, mille, mille, mille, decollavimus!

Mille, mille, mille!

Vivat qui mille mille occidit!

Tantum vini habet nemo

Quantum sanguinis effudit!

[[first printing, only. Removed to allow for the added note about “Serenade.”]]

Poe gives the Latin original along with his translation in his story Four Beasts in One (Harrison, II, p. 209). In a footnote he makes the following comment on the poem: “Flavius Vopiscus says that the hymn here introduced, was sung by the rabble upon the occasion of Aurelian, in the Sarmatic war, having slain with his own hand nine hundred and fifty of the enemy.” The lines, with insignificant variations from the text as given by Poe, are to be found in Flavii Vopisci Aurelianus, Tauchnitz edition of Scriptores Histories A ugusta (Leipzig, 1884), II, p. 152.

Poe was perhaps influenced in the rhythm of his translation by Dryden’s Alexander’s Feast.

The title is taken from the context.

[[resume first printing]]


(Southern Literary Messenger, March, 1836; Tales, 1840; Broadway Journal, December 6, 1845 (in each, printed as a part of the tale Four Beasts in One))

(TEXT: Broadway Journal)

This poem, like the Latin Hymn, was not published by Poe in any edition of his poems, but only as a part of the story Four Beasts in One. In the Southern Literary Messenger and in Tales (1840) the first four lines of the poem are repeated after line 8. The date of composition was probably 1832 or 1833. [page 299:]

ALONE (138)

These lines were first attributed to Poe by E. L. Didier, who declares that they were found in an autograph album belonging to a Mrs. Balderston of Baltimore and that they bear Poe’s signature (The Poe Cult, p. 270). They were reproduced in facsimile in Scribner’s Monthly for September, 1875 (X, p. 608), being there supplied with a title (which is adopted here) and a fictitious date. The original manuscript is not in Poe’s hand; but the poem is clearly in Poe’s early manner. It is accepted as genuine by Stedman and Woodberry (X, p. 138), by Stoddard (I, p. 35), by Harrison (XVI, p. 378), and by Whitty (p. 135). If the work of Poe, it was probably written in 1829 or 1830. The text here followed is that of the Scribner’s facsimile (with slight corrections in punctuation).


This bit of doggerel is attributed to Poe by H. B. Hirst in his sketch of Poe in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum (February 25, 1843), and also by T. W. Gibson, one of his fellow-cadets at West Point, in Harper’s Monthly, November, 1867 (XXXV, pp. 754 f.), and by W. F. Gill in his life of Poe (p. 53). Hirst’s sketch was made up from materials furnished him by the poet (see Woodberry, II, p. 5), and almost surely passed under Poe’s eye before publication.

1 Locke. Assistant Instructor of Tactics at West Point in 1830-1831.


These verses were first attributed to Poe by J. H. Whitty (New York Sun, November 21, 1915), who gives them the title Life’s Vital Stream. The original manuscript of the lines was found in 1909 among the welter of old papers in the Ellis-Allan collection (once in the possession of the partner of Poe’s foster-father), now the property of the Library of Congress. Mr. Whitty holds that they are in Poe’s autograph, but of this I do not feel that we can be certain: some of the capital letters resemble Poe’s, but others are unlike any autograph of his that has been preserved; and both the form adopted and the paper used — a dingy scrap, torn perhaps from some office-book — are against the supposition that the lines are his. If Poe’s, it is possible that the verses [page 300:] refer to the second Mrs. Allan (one of whose given names was “Louisa”); and on that supposition they must have been written in 1831 or thereabouts. But Mr. Whitty suggests 1827 as their probable date.

The punctuation of the original is very crude. The present editor has inserted the periods at the end of lines 4, 12, and 16; the comma after “shrieks” in line 7 and after “soul” in line 13; and the semicolon at the end of line 13. With other lines the pointing is scarcely legible.

The lines appear to have been influenced by Pope’s The Dying Christian to his Soul.

3 life-drops. Written as two words in the origina1. So also with “eye-balls” in line 6 and “blood-chilling” in line 1I.

9 hideous. Spelled “hidious” in the original.

TO SARAH (139)

Published above the signature “Sylvio” in the Southern Literary Messenger of August, 1835. First assigned to Poe by Whitty (pp. 142, 286), on the basis of “a memorandum left by Poe in the ‘Duane’ copy of the Messenger.” “Sarah” is presumably Miss Sarah Elmira Royster, of Richmond (see the introductory note on Tamerlane). The lines, if the work of Poe, were perhaps composed while he was a student at the University of Virginia in 1826. In both style and mood the poem is unlike Poe’s fully authenticated work.

1-3 Cf. the opening stanza of Wordsworth’s Expostulation and Reply (1798):

Why, William, on that old grey stone,

Thus for the length of half a day,

Why, William, sit you thus alone,

And dream your time away?

In his Letter to B—— Poe had expressed his disapproval of Wordsworth, and Briggs wrote Lowell in 1845: “He does not read Wordsworth, and knows nothing about him” (Woodberry, II, p. 146). But Poe appears to have echoed certain lines of Wordsworth in some of his early verses (see Romance (text of 1831), l. 47; The Valley of Unrest, ll. 15-16; and The Coliseum, l. 46). And while he objected to Wordsworth’s didacticism, his references to him in his critical writings are not invariably disparaging.

17 Hermia’s dew. An error for “Hermon’s dew”; see the note ll. 34-35. [page 301:]

BALLAD (140)

First published in the Southern Literary Messenger of August, 1835 (I, pp. 705-706), and there preceded by the following letter:


The subjoined copy of an old Scotch ballad, contains so much of the beauty and genuine spirit of bygone poetry, that I have determined to risk a frown from the fair lady by whom the copy was furnished, in submitting it for publication. The ladies sometimes violate their promises — may I not for once assume their privilege, in presenting to the readers of the Messenger this “legend of the olden time,” although I promised not? Relying on the kind heart of the lady for forgiveness for this breach of promise, I have anticipated the pardon in sending you the lines, which I have never as yet seen in print. SIDNEY.

The poem was first associated with Poe by Stedman and Woodberry (X, p. 161); and Professor Woodberry suggests (Life, II, p. 415) that it was “probably the first draft” of Bridal Ballad (published in the Messenger of January, 1837). In this view he is almost surely correct. One line of the poem (l. 31) reappears, with the omission of a single word, in Bridal Ballad, and the two are otherwise strikingly similar in diction and meter and atmosphere, as well as in theme.

The poem, if the work of Poe, probably has reference to Miss Royster’s marriage to Mr. Shelton (see the notes on Tamerlane and the lines To Sarah). In none of the fully authenticated poems is there mention of the leave-taking between the poet and Miss Royster (on his departure, supposedly, for the University), nor of the attitude of Miss Royster’s mother to the poet — though there is a possible allusion in Bridal Ballad (see the note on line 3 of that poem) to the influence exerted by Mr. Shelton’s wealth in determining the issue of his suit.

1-4 Cf. the fourth stanza of the 1837 version of Bridal Ballad (reproduced in the note on Bridal Ballad, l. 19).

31 Identical with line 23 of Bridal Ballad except that the latter omits “poor” before “heart.”


Attributed to Poe by Gabriel Harrison, in an article published in the New York Times Saturday Review of March 4, 1899, from which the present text is copied (save for the addition of a title). Harrison states that the lines were composed by Poe on a visit to New York in the [page 302:] winter of 1843-1844, and that there were all together five stanzas and a chorus. Poe was a Whig in politics, and at times displayed an active interest in political affairs, especially in 1842-1843, when he was endeavoring to secure an appointment to a position in the Philadelphia custom house. The “White Eagle” was the name of a political club of which Harrison was president at the time.


To Kate Carol

Published in the Broadway Journal of April 26, 1845, under the heading “Editorial Miscellany”; and first attributed to Poe by J. H. Whitty (pp. 147, 287). “Kate Carol” was one of the pen-names under which Mrs. Osgood wrote (cf. Griswold’s statement in Laurel Leaves, the second edition of The Memorial in honor of Mrs. Osgood, p. 22, note, and articles by her under that signature in Labree’s Illustrated Magazine and the Union Magazine in 1847). That Poe composed the lines is highly probable. At the time of their publication he was writing the bulk (if not all) of the editorial miscellany in the Broadway Journal, and he was publishing about this time other verses to Mrs. Osgood (see the notes on To F —— and To F —— s S. O —— d); and Mrs. Osgood had recently contributed verses to the Broadway Journal that were apparently meant for Poe (Love’s Reply, in the issue of April 12, 1845).

2 those pure orbs. Cf. A Valentine, ll. 1-2:

For her these lines are penned, whose luminous eyes,

Brightly expressive as the twins of Lœda;

and see also Poe’s description of Mrs. Osgood’s eyes in his sketch of her in the Literati (Harrison, XV, p. 104): “Eyes of a clear, luminous gray, large, and with a singular capacity of expression.”

4 For Poe’s weakness for punning, see the note on A Valentine, l. 17.


Printed in the Broadway Journal of July 12, 1845 (II, p. 7), and there signed “L.” Attributed to Poe by Thomas Holley Chivers in the Waverley Magazine of July 30, 1853 (p. 73). The lines resemble more the work of Chivers or Ide or Hirst than that of Poe. The [page 303:] signature “L” appears nowhere else in the Broadway Journal, but is appended to an article, “Our Magazine Literature,” in the New World of March 11, 1843, which is assigned to Poe by W. M. Griswold (Correspondence of R. W. Griswold, p. 118). Poe, it may be added, had published in the Broadway Journal a number of tales over the signature “Littleton Barry” (or “Barry Littleton”). On the other hand, it should be noted that there were articles in other periodicals of the time signed “L” that are clearly not Poe’s (see poems in the Weekly Mirror for October 26, and November 23, 1844, and in Graham’s Magazine for December, 1845). Obviously the evidence on which the lines were assigned to Poe is extremely flimsy. Chivers contended that the lines are an imitation of his poem To Allegra Florence in Heaven, which he held also furnished the original suggestion of the meter and the style of The Raven.


Published above the signature “P.” in Graham’s Magazine for October, 1845. Attributed to Poe by J. H. Whitty in the New York Sun of November 21, 1915 (see also a revision of this article in the New York Nation of January 27, 1916). The grounds given by Mr. Whitty for assigning the lines to Poe are, first, the presence of the initial “P.” and, second, the fact that, in a copy of Graham’s Magazine (for 1845-1846) once owned by Mrs. F. S. Osgood, the signature affixed to the poem is expanded — in a handwriting which Mr. Whitty believes to be Mrs. Osgood’s — so as to read “E. A. Poe.” The lines refer, according to Mr. Whitty’s theory, to Mrs. Osgood, who wrote at one time, so Mr. Whitty declares, under the pen-name “Ellen.” The verses are obviously not in Poe’s usual manner.


First published in Graham’s Magazine for December, 1845, being there subscribed with the initial “P.” Assigned to Poe by Mr. Whitty, on evidence similar to that advanced in support of the authenticity of The Divine Right of Kings (New York Sun, November 21, 1915). If Poe’s, the lines doubtless refer to Mrs. Osgood, to whom the poet addressed A Valentine (see pp. 115-116, above) in February, 1846. [page 304:]

[[first printing only, removed from second printing]]


To ——

Published in The Symposia of Providence, Rhode Island, January 27, 1848, and there signed “E. A. P.” (cf. Whitty, p. 286). First attributed to Poe by J. H. Whitty, who suggests that the poem was inspired by Mrs. Whitman. The fact that it bears Poe’s initials furnishes evidence in favor of its authenticity that cannot be ignored, though the style of the poem furnishes equally strong evidence against Poe’s authorship. It is possible that the lines were written by some other versifier who happened to have the same initials as Poe; or that Poe’s initials were affixed to the lines by way of hoax. If written by Poe, it is possible that they refer to Mrs. Shew; though the final line, with its reference to spiritualistic influences, and the fact that the lines were published at Providence may be held to favor the supposition that they refer to Mrs. Whitman. The text here printed is that of Whitty (pp. 144-145).







[S:0 - KCP, 1917] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Notes (Part 03) (ed. K. Campbell, 1917)