Text: Hervey Allen and Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Chapter 03,” Poe's Brother: The Poems of William Henry Leonard Poe (1926), pp. 37-41


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[page 42:]

From Edgar Poe’s Tamerlane volume:

THE happiest day — the happiest hour

My sear’d and blighted heart hath known,

The highest hope of pride, and power,

I feel hath flown.

 

Of power! said I? yes! such I ween

But they have vanish’d long alas!

The visions of my youth have been —

But let them pass.

 

And, pride, what have I now with thee?

Another brow may ev’n inherit

The venom thou hast pour’d on me —

Be still my spirit!

 

The happiest day — the happiest hour

Mine eyes shall see — have ever seen

The brightest glance of pride and power

I feel — have been:

 

But were that hope of pride and power

Now offer’d, with the pain

Even then I felt — that brightest hour

I would not live again:

 

For on its wing was dark alloy.

And as it flutter’d — fell

An essence — powerful to destroy

A soul that knew it well.

As published by Edgar Allan Poe in Tamerlane, Boston, (1827), pp. 33-34. Reprinted here for comparison with the stanzas signed “W. H. P.” on the following page. Poe is probably referring here to events occurring just prior to his leaving Richmond in March 1827. [page 43:]

[ORIGINAL.]

The happiest day — the happiest hour,

My sear’d and blighted heart has known,

The brightest glance of pride and power

I feel has flown

 

Of power said I? Yes, such I ween —

But it has vanish’d — long, alas!

The visions of my youth have been —

But let them pass. —

 

And pride! what have I now with thee

Another brow may e’en inherit

The venom thou last pour’d on me:

Be still my spirit.

 

The smile of love — soft friendship’s charm —

Bright hope itself has fled at last,

’T will ne’er again my bosom warm —

’Tis ever past.

 

The happiest day, — the happiest hour,

Mine eyes shall see, — have ever seen, —

The brightest glance of pride and power,

I feel has been.    W. H. P.

Stanzas taken in part from Edgar Poe’s first volume, Tamerlane, published in Boston in 1827, and republished by William Henry Poe in the North ilmerican in Baltimore. I. convenience, the same poem as it appeared in Tamerlane is printed on the preceding page. It is not improbable that the changes were made by Edgar’s direction, for he was always reworking his verses. But there is an unromantic chance that the poem was reduced in size to fill the desired space in the paper. In any case it will be observed that the next poem by Edgar is more carefully marked “Extract”. [page 44:]

 

 

 

FOREIGN SCENES AND CUSTOMS.

 

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE NORTH AMERICAN.

 

MONTE VIDEO.

After a passage in which we had the usual quantity of good and bad weather, we arrived at the entrance of the River Plate, where we saw a large Brazilian fleet at anchor — Not caring to be overhauled, and. feeling a little proud of our vessel, we determined to show them it was in our power, and not in theirs, whether we would submit to it or not — and so it proved, for the vessel they had sent in chase of us, whether from fear, as we looked “rakish,” or from dull sailing, was soon-far behind, and ere night we had lost sight of her entirely. As we were nowsnear the place of destination, Monte Video, we anchored until the coming day — our captain, with that caution .so. natural to a yankee, would not risk his vessel at the very port, after having successfully passed the dangers of

The dark and stormy ocean.”

It was almost sun-down when we arrived at the harbor, and there was something sombre and gloomy in the place which I did not like — perhaps the number of vessels which had seen their best days, and have by accident or design drifted on shore: or the gloomy towers of their large cathedral, the low long dark buildings designed for barracks and hospitals — to which you may add a dark evening, — caused the feeling, but certain it is, the place made an unfavorable impression on me, although during my stay there I found it the very reverse of what I at first anticipated. Yet when I think of it, the impressions of my mind on first beholding the city, still forcibly revert back, notwithstanding the subsequent proof of the incorrectness with which they were formed: — so firmly does first ideas cling to the remembrance.

Monte Video is at present in possession of the Brazilians-but the Patriots were almost at the very gates, and it was a common Occurrence to observe a skirmish between parties of the contending armies; — but whether it was the effusion of some hot-headed young officer, who thought it a pleasant way of ending the day, or was dictated by the more experienced head of age, 1 cannot determine; but the former opinion seems the most probable, as no benefit could be expected-by either party from their occurrence, and they generally ended with the loss of two or three killed or wounded on either side. [page 45:]

I had the good fortune to be there during the Carnival — I say good fortune, but I think I am rather wrong, as I received some not very agreeable effects of their frolic — however, as I witnessed something novel, and as we must generally contribute in sonic manner for the indulgence of our curiosity, I must fain be satisfied.. The officers of the French Corvette Zele, then in port, with the gaiety peculiar to their-nation, appeared to be in their proper element. On the, morning of the first day, their largest boat, manned with sixteen oars. and the white pennon of France flying, was seen approaching the town. In her bows, leaning on a staff and dresied only in a pair of tarry trowsers and tarpaulin hat, was a person whom I had taken for a negro, and it was therefore with no small surprise that I learnt he was the captain of the corsair — In the stern were seven or eight other officers, all in masquerade dresses. As this was the first scene of the kind which I had ever beheld, you may be assured it afibrded me considerable amusement.

In strolling through the streets gazing at the strange figures before me, I received a blow, which gave me, — not the appendage of a gentleman, — in the appearance of an essential member of my physiognomy. Surprised at this unlooked for compliment, I turned round as hastily as the effects ofiny mishap would permit, and discovered that the persons who had thus cavalierly treated me, were some young ladies, stationed on a neighboring terrace, who immediatelyebegan to pelt me with eggs filled with cologne water, and from one of which well-aimed missies I received the mark, which, in my own country, would have caused a suspension of my perambulations for sonet time — I was afterwards informed that it was a. great compliment to be noticed in so striking a manner by the fair ones of the city — but notwithstanding this intimation, I felt no anxiety to receive any more of them, if they were. to be conferred in a similar coin.

The commerce of Monte Video is not very great. Its imports are beef, pork, soap, wines, brandy, gin, &c. Its exports are principally bides and horns, but vessels generally return from thence in ballast, as hides are frequently shipped at a great loss. It can never be a place of much trade — the harbour is gradually filling up, and vessels drawing more than sixteen feet water cannot come within some miles of the town — and lying in the open roads is very dangerous, as the anchorage is not good, and the heavy gales which are so frequent, have driven many a gallant ship from its proper element [page 46:] to the land. The Macedonian dragged her anchors to within an hundred yards of a reef — and our commodore after that, at the least appearance of a blow, had every thing safe and snug.

The inhabitants of Monte Video are principally Portuguese — but there are many Americans and Englishmen in the place. all intent on making money, — no matter how. It is an actual fact, that most of the vessels which have forced the blockade aml arrived at Buenos Ayres, were first purchased at Monte Video — and I have many reasons to believe that the principal authorities wink at the procedure. The inhabitants are generally believed to be in favor of the Patriots, but if so, they do not and dare not openly avow it.

Peaches. apples, melons, &c. are now (February,) in great plenty; and, whilst I am complaining of the warmth, you are no doubt blowing your fingers, and wishing for a residence in a milder clime. But with all the novelties and all the ‘attractions which a foreign country possesses, stilt in the midst of pleasure the heart will turn to its home, and long to be there. There is something in its very name, which crowds the mind with such pleasurable sensations that it is impossible to describe them.

As an instance of the kindly feeling with which our countrymen greet each other in a foreign laad, I will state a little circumstance that transpired whilst. at Monte Video. One Sunday a friend and myself had strayed a short distance out of the gates, when we perceived two persons approaching, us: I do not know if it was instinct, but I immediately fancied They were my countrymen — and I told my companion loud enough for them to hear, that I thought they were yankees — “You’ve guessed right,” says one; and in fifteen minutes we were almost as well acquainted as if we had been brothers — and I verily believe I never passed a more pleasant afternoon.

But I had nearly forgotten the ladies, who of course are entitled to some notice in my attempt to describe their city. alley are generally rather handsome, with somewhat of the Spanish cast — and so far from being disinclined to intimacy with foreigners, as most of their countrymen are, many have intermarried with the English and Americans resident here, and are gradually losing that restraint imposed on their sex in Catholic countries.

I am. &c.  
W. H. P.

[page 47:]

 

FOR THE NORTH AMERICAN.

TO R.

Nay — ’tis nal so — it cannot be —

Those feelings neer will come again;

I gave my heart — my soul to thee,

And madly clasped the burning chain.

 

’Tis sever’d now — and like the slave

When freed, will seers the bars he wore,

And feels he would prefer the grave

Than wear those galling fetters more —

 

Yet not like him — for memory brings

A war to joys — to plestum tied —

A something which still fondly clings —

“ ’Tis vainly mourning o’er the dead.”

 

It cannot be! for pride will now

Relieve the anguish of my heart —

Thy faithless pledge! thy broken vow!

’Tis fit — ’tis meet — that we should part.    W. H. P.

[page 48:]

 

[ORIGINAL.]

I’ve lov’d thee — but those hours are past

That bound my heart in Woman’s wiles:

I’ve lov’d thee — but my fate is cast —

I trust no more to woman’s smiles:

 

To give a heart, as true as mine —

A souls — whose hope was all in thee —

To love, — ay, t’were a crime,

A dream — a madness-phantasy.

 

Yet still the pride, which once was mine,

Has come with all its force again —

And yet those eyes, — those words of thine,

Hath wrung my heart with wildest pain.7-

 

But fare thee well — I tremble not —

‘Tis madness too from thee to part —

To be as lost — as dead — forgot! —

Be still my wayward breaking heart!    W. H. P.

 

[ORIGINAL.]

Scenes of my love! of boyhood’s thoughtless hour!

I bid you now a long, a sad farewell;

Vision or Glory! where is now thy power!

Ah! where the charm that would nay bosom swell,

 

The day of joy is gone, and veil’d the light

That shone on days too bright — too fair

My life is now a chill and starless night,

And mem’ry weeps with bitter tears the past.

 

The friends so lured — from them ton I must fly —

The grave — the gay — the love of youth’s first spring,

When no sad tear had dimmed my laughing eye,

And all was fancy’s wish imagining.

 

Yes, all farewell! our gallant bark flies fast —

My native land gleams faintly on my view;

One more fond look — that look perhaps the last —

A long farewell — a mournful, sad adieu.    W. H. P.

 


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Notes:

None.

 

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[S:0 - WHP26, 1926] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Poe's Brother: The Poems of William Henry Leonard Poe (H. Allen and T. O. Mabbott) (Chapter 03)