Edgar Allan Poe — “Irene” and “The Sleeper”


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Sleeper” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “[Lady Irene]” — early 1830 — [There are no known draft manuscripts or scratch notes reflecting the original effort of composition.]
  • Text-02 — “Irene” — 1830-1831
    • Text-02a — “Irene” — 1830-1831 — [Faircopy manuscript Poe prepared for publication. This manuscript has not survived, but the version is presumably recorded in Text-02b and Text-02c. Prior to publication, Poe cancelled an entire stanza, and made a number of other, smaller changes. That cancelled stanza, part of which includes lines also found in “Fairyland,” is preserved in the “Chevallie” manuscript.]
    • Text-02b — “Lady Irene” — about March 1830 — “Chevallie” manuscript — [As the earliest known surviving manuscript, it is likely that Poe had already composed the poem and written it out in this album from memory. This manuscript was unknown to Mabbott, and is consequently listed in neither his texts nor the variants.]
    • Text-02c — “Irene” — 1831 — POEMS — (Mabbott text A — This is Mabbott's copy-text for “Irene”)
  • Text-04 — “Irene” — 1836
    • Text-04a — “Irene” — before May 1836 — (Speculated revised manuscript Poe prepared for publication in the Southern Literary Messenger.)
    • Text-04b — “Irene” — May 1836 — Southern Literary Messenger — (Mabbott text B)
    • Text-04c — “Irene, the Dead” — about January 1837 — “McCabe” manuscript — (Mabbott text C)
  • Text-05 — “The Sleeper” — 1841
    • Text-05a — “The Sleeper” — before May 1836 — (Speculated revised manuscript Poe prepared for publication in the Southern Literary Messenger.)
    • Text-05b — “The Sleeper” — May 22, 1841 — Saturday Chronicle — (Mabbott text D)
    • Text-05c — “The Sleeper” — before May 29, 1841 — (Poe sent a manuscript of several poems to R. W. Griswold in a letter dated May 29, 1841. “The Coliseum” and “The Haunted Palace” are the only two poems that he mentions by name. Griswold printed both poems in the first edtion of The Poets and Poetry of America, along with “The Sleeper,” for which a manuscript probably also accompanied this letter. This manuscript of “The Sleeper” has not survived, but the text is presumably recorded in Text-05d.)
    • Text-05d — “The Sleeper” — April 18, 1842 — Poets and Poetry of America (The poem continued to appear in later editions.) — (Mabbott text E)
  • Text-06 — “The Sleeper” — 1843
    • Text-06a — “The Sleeper” — early 1843 — (Speculated revised manuscript Poe prepared for publication in the Saturday Museum.)
    • Text-06b — “The Sleeper” — February 25 and March 4, 1843 — Saturday Museum — (Mabbott text F) — (Poe sent two copies of this article to J. R. Lowell, one on October 19, 1843 and a second on May 28, 1844. In both cases, he appears to have done so for the purpose of providing Lowell with some biographical material to use for his article on Poe for Graham's Magazine. There is no indication that any of the poems in these copies had modifications made by Poe.)
      • The Sleeper” — February 25, 1843
      • The Sleeper” — March 4, 1843 (reprinted from February 25, 1843)
  • Text-07 — “The Sleeper” — 1845-1849
    • Text-07a — “The Sleeper” — May 3, 1845 — Broadway Journal — (Mabbott text G)
    • Text-07b — “The Sleeper” — 1845 — RAOP — (Mabbott text H) — (for Griswold's 1850 reprinting of this text, see the entry below, under reprints.)
    • Text-07c — “The Sleeper” — 1849 — manuscript revisions in J. Lorimer Graham copy of RAOP — (Mabbott text J — This is Mabbott's copy-text for “The Sleeper”)



  • Irene” — May 1831 — Casket  (This poem is quoted, along with two others, from Poe's 1831 volume of Poems. According to Mabbott, Poems, 1:542, the brief introductory note is presumably by Poe's friend Lambert A. Wilmer. Although the identical note appears in the Saturday Evening Post for May 21, 1831, only the poem “To Helen” is reprinted there, not the other two items.)
  • “Irene” — July 8, 1831 —Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer  (This poem is quoted, along with two others, from Poe's 1831 volume of Poems. It is interesting that these are the same three poems as reprinted by the Casket for May 1831.)
  • “The Sleeper” — December 7, 1845 —Daily Picayune (New Orleans, LA), vol. IX, no. 269, p. 4, col. 1 (acknowledged as by “Edgar A. Poe,” and being reprinted from the Broadway Journal)
  • The Sleeper” — about September 1849 — Richmond Examiner proof sheets — (the text given by Whitty matches Text-10 exactly. It may be surmised that the Examiner text was set from Poe's copy of RAOP. Strangely, Whitty does not list the J. L. Graham copy of RAOP in his versions of this poem, although he does include references to this volume in the variants for other poems.)
  • The Sleeper” — 1850 — WORKS — Griswold reprints Text-09  (Mabbott text K)
  • “The Sleeper” — 1852 — Tales of Mystery and Imagination and Humour; and Poems, London: Henry Vizetelly (An undated edition appears about the same time, published by Charles H. Clark and Samuel Orchart Beeton, and their name appears as publisher for the second series), second series pp. 242-244. (with no woodcut illustration) (this poem was omitted in some later printings)
  • “The Sleeper” — November 14, 1865 —Daily Wilmington Herald (Wilmington, NC), vol. 1, no. 219, p. 3, col. 1 (acknowledged as by “Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe.”)
  • The Sleeper” — 1875 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol 3: Poems and Essays, ed. J. H. Ingram, Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black (3:57-58)
  • “The Sleeper” — June 13, 1903 —Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD), vol. CXXXIII, no. 28, p. 7, spread across cols. 4-5 (printed as part of the series “Gems from the Poets,” with the brief introductory note: “A sketch of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was given in THE SUN of June 4, 1902, with his poem ‘Annabel Lee.’ The nme ‘Irene’ in ‘The Sleeper’ is fictitious.”)
  • “The Sleeper” — July 2, 1903 —Messenger and Intelligencer (Wadesboro, NC), ns vol. 17, no. 47, p. 4, col. 4 (acknowledged as by “Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe.”)
  • “The Sleeper” — July 18, 1903 —Buffalo Evening News (Buffalo, NY), vol. XLVI, (no issue number), p. 6, across cols. 4-5 (acknowledged as “by Poe,” and printed under the general heading “Poems Worth Knowing” and with a minor and fairly generic woodcut illustration of a crying angel sitting on what appears to be a rocky shoreline.)
  • “The Sleeper” — July 28, 1903 —St. Louis Republic (St. Louis, MO), vol. 96, no. 84, p. 7, col. 4 (acknowledged as by “Edgar Allan Poe.”)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • The Sleeper” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 10: Poems, ed. G. E. Woodberry and E. C. Stedman, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (10:14-16, and pp. 162-166)  (The full text of “Irene” is given in the notes)
  • The Sleeper” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 7: Poems, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (10:51-52, and 10:178-182)  (The full text of “Irene” is given in the notes)
  • The Sleeper” — 1911 — The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J. H. Whitty, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co. (pp. 17-18, and pp. 204-207)
  • The Sleeper” — 1917 — The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Killis Campbell, Boston: Ginn and Company (pp. 63-67, and pp. 211-213)
  • “Irene” — 1925 — Armistead C. Gordon, Memories and Memorials of Gordon McCabe, Richmond  (1:20-21)  (the first printing of the McCabe manuscript. As Stovall notes, p. 218, this version contains “three verbal errors in printing and numerous changes in punctuation.”)
  • “The Sleeper” — 1965 — The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Floyd Stovall, Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia (pp. 52-54, and pp. 218-225)  (In his notes, Stovall gives the full text of the 1831 “Irene”)
  • Irene” — 1969 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1: Poems, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (1:179-186)
  • The Sleeper” — 1969 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1: Poems, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (1:186-189)
  • “The Sleeper” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America) (pp. 64-66) (reprints the text from Stovall, 1965)


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “La dormeuse” — 1862 — Contes inedts d‘Edgar Poe, Paris: J. Hetzel, pp. 303-306 (French translation by William L. Hughes)
  • “A Mid-June Midnight” — June 28, 1863 —Daily Picayune (New Orleans, LA), vol. XXVII, no. 133, p. 1, col. 2 (acknowledged as by “Edgar Allan Poe,” with the strange new title, and in a greatly truncated form)
  • “The Hunter's Moon” — October 19, 1913 —Sunday Review (Decatur, IL), vol. 35, no. 292, p. 18, col. 3 (an homage poem signed as “By Jinks,” acknowledged as “After the Late Mr. Poe,” repeating several lines of Poe's poem.)
  • “La dormeuse” — dated 2009, but available in late 2008 — Poèmes d‘Edgar Allan Poe, Paris: Publibook (translation by Jean Hautepierre)



  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Hunter, W. B., “Poe's ‘The Sleeper’ and Macbeth,” American Literature, May 1949, 20:55-57
  • Kiehl, James, “Valley of Unrest: A Major Metaphor in the Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe,” Thoth, Winter 1964, 5:42-52
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Poe's ‘The Sleeper’ Again,” American Literature, November 1949, 21:339-340
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vol 1 Poems), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Sleeper