Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Elizabeth” (Text-01), undated manuscript, about 1829



Elizabeth — it surely is most fit

(Logic and common usage so commanding)

In thy own book that first thy name be writ,

*Zeno and other sages notwithstanding:

And I have other reasons for so doing

Besides my innate love of contradiction:

Each poet — if a poet — in pursuing

The muses thro’ their bowers of Truth or Fiction,

Has studied very little of his part,

Read nothing, written less — in short’s a fool

Endued with neither soul, nor sense, nor art,

Being ignorant of one important rule,

Employed in even the theses of the school —

Called —— I forget the heathenish Greek name —

(Called any thing, its meaning is the same)

“Always write first things uppermost in the heart”


* It was a saying of this philosopher “that one’s own name should never appear in one’s own book”.



Elizabeth was Poe’s Baltimore cousin, Elizabeth Rebecca Herring (1815-1889).

In the original manuscript, Poe uses square brackets, which we have replaced with parentheses. Some scholars, including T. O. Mabbott, note that the seventh lines reads “in persuing,” with “pursuing” misspelled. Examination of the manuscript, however, shows this to be a misreading.

A photographic facsimile of the manuscript was printed in the auction catalogue for The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Highly Important American and Children’s Literature, New York: Sotheby’s, January 30 and 31, 1990, lot 2218, with notes by Richard Kopley.


[S:2 - MS, 1829 (photograph)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Elizabeth [Text-01]