Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “To Marie Louise [Shew]” (Text-01), manuscript, December 1847-January 1848


[page 1:]

To Marie Louise.

Not long ago, the writer of these lines,

In the mad pride of intellectuality,

Maintained the “Power of Words” — denied that ever

A thought arose within the human brain

Beyond the utterance of the human tongue:

And now, as if in mockery of that boast,

Two words — two foreign, soft dissyllables —

Two gentle sounds made only to be murmured

By angels dreaming in the moon-lit “dew

That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill”

Have stirred from out the abysses of his heart

Unthought-like thoughts — scarcely the shades of thought —

Bewildering fantasies — far richer visions

Than even the seraph harper, Israfel,

Who “had the sweetest voice of all God's creatures”,

Would hope to utter. Ah, Marie Louise!

In deep humility I own that now

All pride — all thought of power — all hope of fame —

All wish for Heaven — is merged forevermore

Beneath the palpitating tide of passion

Heaped o’er my soul by thee. Its spells are broken —

The pen falls powerless from my shivering hand — [page 2:]

With that dear name as text I cannot write —

I cannot speak — I cannot even think —

Alas! I cannot feel; for 'tis not feeling —

This standing motionless upon the golden

Threshold of the wide-open gate of Dreams,

Gazing, entranced, adown the gorgeous vista,

And thrilling as I see upon the right —

Upon the left — and all the way along,

Amid the clouds of glory, far away

To where the prospect terminates — thee only.



“Marie Louise” was Mrs. Marie Louise Shew, Poe's friend and Virginia's nurse. The original manuscript of this poem, sent by Mrs. Shew to J. H. Ingram in 1875, has long been lost, but a tracing of the poem was apparently made by Ingram, and retained. That tracing is now item 42 in the Ingram Collection at the University of Virginia.


[S:0 - MS, 1847-1848] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - To Marie Lousie [Shew] (Text-01)