Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. Killis Campbell), “Israfel,” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. 57-59


[page 57:]

ISRAFEL   [[n]]   [[v]]


In Heaven a spirit doth dwell


“Whose heart-strings are a lute;”



None sing so wildly well

As the angel Israfel,




And the giddy stars, (so legends tell)

Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell

Of his voice, all mute.


Tottering above


In her highest noon,


The enamoured moon


Blushes with love,

While, to listen, the red levin



(With the rapid Pleiads, even,

Which were seven,)



Pauses in Heaven.

And they say, (the starry choir


And the other listening things)

That Israfeli's fire [page 58:]


Is owing to that lyre



By which he sits and sings —


The trembling living wire


Of those unusual strings.



But the skies that angel trod,

Where deep thoughts are a duty —




Where Love's a grown-up God,



Where the Houri glances are

Imbued with all the beauty


Which we worship in a star.



Therefore, thou art not wrong,


Israfeli, who despisest

An unimpassioned song;


To thee the laurels belong,


Best bard, because the wisest!


Merrily live, and long!

The ecstasies above


With thy burning measures suit — [page 59:]


Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,


With the fervor of thy lute —

Well may the stars be mute!


Yes, Heaven is thine; but this

Is a world of sweets and sours;

Our flowers are merely — flowers,


And the shadow of thy perfect bliss

Is the sunshine of ours.




If I could dwell

Where Israfel

Hath dwelt, and he where I,


He might not sing so wildly well


A mortal melody,



While a bolder note than this might swell

From my lyre within the sky.




[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 57:]

Motto “And the angel Israfel who has the sweetest voice of all God's creature. — KORAN” (1831, S. L. M.); “And the angel Israfel, or Israfeli, whose heartstrings are a lute, and who is the most musical of all God's creatures. — KORAN” (Graham's). In B.J. the passage is credited to “Sale's Koran.”

3 wildly: wild — so (1831, S. L. M.).

5-7 And the giddy stars are mute (1831, S.L.M.).

13, 14 Omitted in 1831 and S. L. M.

15 Transposed in Graham's so as to follow line 12.

17 the other: all the (1831, S. L. M.).

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 58:]

19 owing to: due unto (Graham's).

20, 21 Omitted in 1831 and S. L. M.

21 The: That (Graham's); wire: lyre (Graham's).

22 Of: With (1831, S.L.M., Graham's).

23 skies: Heavens (1831, S.L.M., Graham's).

25 Where: And (S. M., B.J.); Love ‘s a grown-up: Love is a grown (1831, S.L.M., Graham's).

26 Where: And (S. M., B.J.); the: omitted in 1831, S.L.M., and Graham's. After this line, 1831 inserts the following line:

— Stay! turn thine eyes afar!

28 a: yon (1831), the (Graham's). After this line, Graham's inserts the line:

The more lovely, the more jar!

29 Thou art not, therefore, wrong (1831, S. L. M., Graham's, S. M., B.J.)

34 Omitted in 1831 and S. L M.

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 59:]

37 Thy grief — if any — thy love (1831, S. L. M.).

43 perfect: Omitted in 1831, S. L. M., and Graham's.

45 could: did (1831, S. L. M., Graham's).

45, 46 Printed as one line in 1831 and S.L.M.

48 might: would (1831, S. L. M.); so wildly: one half as (1831, S.L. M.), one half so (Graham's).

49 One half as passionately (1831, S. L. M.), One half so passionately (Graham's).

50 And a stormier note than this would swell (1831); And a loftier note than this would swell (S. L. M.).







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