Text: Various, “Marginalia,” Poe Studies / Dark Romanticism, June 1986, Vol. XIX, No. 1, 19:24


[page 24, column 1:]


This column is devoted to brief notes, comments, queries. We wish to provide here an outlet for such items as source notes which do not require the extended argument and proof that customarily attends them, and for items of very special or peculiar interest which otherwise might not appear. Contributions to this column should generally be one paragraph in form and less than a page and a half of typescript, though notes of three pages with as many paragraphs are acceptable.

Epes Sargent and “The Raven”

Epes Sargent, one of Poe’s subjects in the “Autography” series [Grabam’s Magazine, 20 (1842), 46] and again in “The Literati” series [Godey’s Lady’s Book, 33 (1846), 77-78], should be included with Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett, Lowell, Shelley, Byron, and others too numerous to list here in discussions of the possible sources and poetic milieu of “The Raven,” first published in the 29January 1845 New York Evening Mirror. [For a brief survey of its primary and some other possible sources and the composition history, see Works, 1, 350-363, 370-374.] Sargent’s The Light of the Light-House and Other Poems [New York: James Mowatt s Co., 1844] contains eyecatching poems about a presumably living loved one named Leonore for whom the persona pines (“It is the Twilight Hour”), about a departed loved one with “raven curls” whose image visits the poet (“To a Nameless One”), and about a lovesick poet who at one point calls on Pallas for assistance (“The Fugitive From Love”). More important, the volume also contains “When the Night Wind Bewaileth,” published separately a year earlier as well, which features a conjunction of similarities to “The Raven.” The 1843 text follows: “When the night wind bewaileth / The fall of the year, /And sweeps from the forest /The leaves that are sere: / I wake from my slumbers, / And list to the roar; / And it saith to my spirit, / No more — never more! / And it saith to my spirit, / No more; never more; never more! / Oh! never more! / Through Memory’s chambers, / The forms of the past, / The joys of my childhood / Rush by with the blast! / And the lost one, whose beauty / I used to adore, / To my heart seems to murmur — / No more — never more! / Oh! never more! / The trees of the forest / Shall blossom again; / And the wild bird shall carol / A soul-thrilling strain; / But the heart fate has wasted, / No spring shall restore, / And its songs shall be joyful / No more — never more! Oh! never more!”

The growth of “The Raven” almost certainly spanned a few years, although Poe composed it in the metrical form that we have, according to Mabbott, “not earlier than 1844” [Works, I, 357] and prepared it for publication at the Brennan farm [Works, I, 555] to which he had moved at least by September 1844 [Letters, I, 262]. Poe might have encountered “When the Night Wind Bewaileth” both in 1843 and 1844. The text reprinted above, which Sargent noted had already been sung by William R. Dempster at “many concerts,” appeared along with Dempster’s music in Sargent’s New Monthly Magazine [I (January 1843), 40-41], when Poe was struggling to get his own magazine started and would have been alert to this new literary venture — its February number contains a possible source for Poe’s 1844 “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq. ” [see Works, III, 1125] The probability of Poe’s acquaintance with the poem in the Light-House volume of 1844 is high. This volume was reviewed in the June 1844 number of Graham’s [25 (1844), 295], in which “DreamLand” first appeared and which Poe saw in May [Doings of Gotham (Pottsville, Pa.: Jacob E. Spannuth, 1929), p. 35j. “The Literati” sketch in 1846 contains comments on the Light-House collection and on several individual Sargent poems, including the title poem from which Poe quoted eight lines, and also on the general character and demise (with the June 1843 number) of Sargent’s magazine [Complete Works, XV, 91-93]. [column 2:] Of course, some of the characteristics present in both “When the Night Wind” and “The Raven” were poetic commonplaces [for example, see the survey, which does not refer to Sargent’s poem, of poetic occurrences of “nevermore” in Robert S. Forsythe, “Poe’s ‘Nevermore’: A Note,” American Literature, 7 (1936), 439-452]. But Sargent’s poem can reasonably be added to the list of possible sources for Poe’s work because of its suggestive conjunction of similar setting, situation, and handling of the refrain. In both poems, the night is somewhat tempestuous, the persona thinks with sorrow about a lost loved one, “nevermore” is used in a refrain, and the refrain ofien is “spoken” (at least in the persona’s fancy) by a nighttime “visitor.” While Poe used the raven, Sargent employed first the wailing night wind which supposedly “saith to my spirit nevermore” and then a vision of “the lost one” who “seems to murmur” the message. The words of the night wind and lost one are in fact the expressions of the persona’s “wasted” heart, while the raven’s “nevermore,” according to Poe, “finds immediate echo in the melancholy heart” [Complete Works, XIV, 207]. Sargent’s poem also contains a “wild bird” (“wild birds” in 1844) with a “soul thrilling strain,” but it does not speak the refrain. (One should note also that “The leaves that are sere” echoes in “The leaves they were . . . sere” and “the leaves that were . . . sere” in “Ulalume.”) Given these points of similarity, the accessibility of “When the Night Wind Bewaileth” separately in 1843 and in the Light-House collection in 1844, and the likelihood that not a few works (sometimes with overlapping characteristics) could have had an impact as sources or as reinforcement for other sources, Sargent’s poems need to be included in future assessments of the genesis and poetic milieu of “The Raven.” Indeed, the success of “The Raven” in 1845 and the release of The Raven and Other Poems in November of that year perhaps had a role in the subsequent promotion of Sargent’s poem, which was reissued in sheet music [copyrighted in Boston by Oliver Ditson on 31 December 1845] with the now Poesque “Never More, Never More” for the first time used as a subtitle and prominently displayed on the cover sheet.

Gerald E. Gerber, Duke University


Corrections to the Hyneman Bibliography

In Esther V. Hyneman’s Edgar Allan Poe: An Annotated Bibliography of Books and Articles in English 1827-1973 [Boston: G. K. Hall, 19741 and in her dissertation on which it is based [“The Contemporaneous Reputation of Edgar Allan Poe . . .” (Columbia Univ., 1968)1, there is the following spurious listing: “LAMSON, A. ‘American and English Criticism of Edgar Allen [sic] Poe,’ Chronicle-Examiner, XXXVI (1844), 390” [item A155 in the 1974 work, item 154 in the dissertation]. Evidently the entry miscopies a notecard; its most likely source is Lamson’s “American Poems,” a review of poetry volumes by William B. Tappan and Isaac F. Shepard, which appeared in 1844 in the Christian Examiner, volume 36, pages 390-396. Because the review does not mention Poe, these incorrect listings of it should simply be expunged. The name “A. Lawson” should, however, appear elsewhere in Hyneman’s bibliographies. Under item B64 in her 1974 work (item 253 in her dissertation), the compiler lists and annotates an anonymous article “Writings of Poe” in the North American Review for October 1856. The article itself, a review of Griswold’s edition of Poe’s works, is in fact untitled; but its author was the same A. Lawson referred to above.

W. T. Bandy, Vanderbilt University


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