Text: Charles W. Kent (notes) Robert A. Stewart (variants) (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Notes to Spirits of the Dead,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VII: Poems (1902), pp. 148-149


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[page 148, continued:]

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD.

Page 13.

VISIT OF THE DEAD — 1827.

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD — 1829; “BURTONS GENTLEMANS MAGAZINE,” JULY, 1839.

Text, Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine.

Variation of 1829 from the text.

III. 8 forever. (:)

The earliest version (1827) runs as follows: —

VISIT OF THE DEAD

  · · · · · · · ·  

Thy soul shall find itself alone —

Alone of all on earth — unknown

The cause — but none are near to pry [page 149:]

Into thy hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,

Which is not loneliness — for then

The spirits of the dead, who stood

In life before thee, are again

In death around thee, and their will

Shall then o’ ershadow thee — be still:

For the night, tho’ clear, shall frown;

And the stars shall look not down

From their thrones, in the dark heaven,

With light like Hope to mortals given,

But their red orbs, without beam,

To thy withering heart shall seem

As a burning, and a fever

Which would cling to thee forever.

But ’twill leave thee, as each star

In the morning light afar

Will fly thee — and vanish:

— But its thought thou canst not banish.

The breath of God will be still;

And the mist upon the hill

By that summer breeze unbroken

Shall charm thee — as a token,

And a symbol which shall be

Secrecy in thee.

EDITORS NOTE.

The soul in unlovely solitude surrounded by the spirits of the dead shall, under a frowning sky, see red-orbed stars shining without hope. There is in this poem, which may have been suggested by the death of Mrs. Stanard (April 28, 1824), a reference to gray tombstones.

The form is irregular, consisting of four stanzas of varying number of lines. The movement is iambic, with some trochaic inversions.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Notes to Spirits of the Dead)