Edgar Allan Poe — “To Helen (Sarah Helen Whitman)”


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “To Helen (Sarah Helen Whitman)” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “To Helen” — 1850 — WORKS — (Mabbott text E)  (This is Mabbott's copy-text) (This version is presumably printed from Poe's original manuscript, rather than the printing in the Union Magazine as it includes two lines omitted from that text. Griswold gives the full text also, without title, in his “Memoir of the Author,” printed later in 1850, as part of volume III.)
  • Text-02 — “[To Helen]” — June 1, 1848 — “Whitman” manuscript — (Mabbott text A) (Mrs. Whitman sent this manuscript to Dr. J. R. Buchanan of Louisville, Kentucky for a “psychometric reading.” Dr. Buchanan appears not to have returned the mansucript, and it is now presumed lost. Mrs. Whitman mentions in a letter of March 6, 1874 to J. H. Ingram, “There was no signature to the poem, nor any title,” although she recognized the handwriting. She says that it was sent to her by Poe “in the early summer of 1848.” Mabbott, Poems, 1:445, speculates that Griswold's text was “almost certainly based on the lost original manuscript,” but does not offer his reasoning. He may have done so because Griswold includes two lines omitted from the printing in the Union Magazine, but see Text-02, below. Interestingly, Mabbott attributes to this manuscript one variant in line 22, where “whose name is also Sorrow” becomes “whose earthly name is Sorrow,” somewhat obscurely identifying the source on 1:443, n. 2. That line appears, in quotation marks, in Mrs. Whitman's poem “To Arcturus,” as printed in Graham's Magazine, June 1850, 36:383. In Edgar Poe and His Critics (1860, pp. 70-71), Mrs. Whitman gives, in a somewhat piecemeal fashion, the following note as appearing also on the manuscript: “All that I have here expressed was actually present to me. Remember the mental condition which gave rise to ‘Ligeia’ — recall the passage of which I spoke, and observe the coincidence. I regard these visions even as they arise, with an awe which in some measure moderates or tranqillizes the ecstacy — I so regard them through a conviction that this ecstasy, in itself, is of a character supernal to the human nature — is a glimpse of the spirit's outer world.” The comment about “Ligeia” refers to a note Poe wrote in the copy of the Broadway Journal he gave to Mrs. Whitman.)
  • Text-03 — “To — — —” — June 15, 1848 — “Taylor” manuscript — (Poe sent this manuscript to Bayard Taylor in a letter dated June 15, 1848, with the request that it be considered for the Union Magazine. Taylor printed the poem, but omitted two lines. It seems more likely that this is the manuscript from which Griswold prints his final text than the manuscript given to Mrs. Whitman. After his “Ludwig” obituary of Poe, Griswold was not on good terms with Mrs. Whitman, and in any case, he rarely returned material he was sent, and Mrs. Whitman still had a manuscript in her possession after Griswold's edition was printed. On the other hand, Griswold was in contact with Taylor in 1849, and indeed Taylor was actively trying to find a buyer for “The Poetic Principle” at Griswold's request, the proceeds of which were to be sent to Poe's sister Rosalie, in an arrangement made with John R. Thompson. This manuscript of Poe's poem does not appear to have survived, but is presumably recorded in text-03.)
  • Text-04 — “To — — —” — November 1848 — Union Magazine (issued in October) — (Mabbott text B)



  • To — — —” — October 10, 1849 — New-York Daily Tribune (Mabbott text C)  (reprinted from the Text-03)
  • To — — —” — October 20, 1849 — New-York Weekly Tribune (reprinted from the Text-03)
  • To — — —” — late 1849 — Poets and Poetry of America (10th edition, dated 1850) — Griswold reprints Text-03  (Mabbott text D)
  • “[To Helen]” — October 1, 1850 — International Miscellany (New York, NY), vol. I, no. 3, p. 338 (quoted as part of an article on Poe by R. W. Griswold. Like the text in WORKS, the poem was apparently printed from Poe's original manuscript as it includes the two lines missing from the Union Magazine.)
  • “To Helen” — 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 p. 246-249. (with no woodcut illustration) (this poem was omitted in some later printings)
  • “To Helen” — 1861 — The Loves and Heroines of the Poets, ed. R. H. Stoddard, New York: Derby and Jackson (pp. 450-452) (In the preface, the editor of this roughly chronologically arranged collection states that “My object in this volume is to present specimens of English love-poetry, especially that which is, or seems to be, addressed to particular women.” For Poe, the other poem presented is “To One in Paradise.”)
  • To Helen” — 1875 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol 3: Poems and Essays, ed. J. H. Ingram, Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black (3:16-17)
  • “To Helen” — July 13, 1878 — Inland Tribune (Great Bend, KS), vol. XLIX, no. II, p. 3, col. 2 (reprinted from the Daily Graphic, as part of an announcement of the death of Sarah H. Whitman.)
  • “To Helen” — July 18, 1878 — Holton Recorder (Holton, KS), vol. XI, no. 16, p. 6, col. 1 (reprinted from the Daily Graphic, as part of an announcement of the death of Sarah H. Whitman.)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • To Helen” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 10: Poems, ed. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (10:84-86, and 10:193)
  • To Helen” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 7: Poems, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (10:107-109, and 10:215)
  • To —— —— ——” — 1911 — The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J. H. Whitty, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co. (pp. 70-72, and pp. 237-238)  (A note at the bottom of p. 70 states “The title in all other editions of Poe's poems is, ‘To Helen.”)
  • To Helen” — 1917 — The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Killis Campbell, Boston: Ginn and Company (pp. 126-128, and pp. 283-285)
  • “To Helen” — 1965 — The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Floyd Stovall, Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia (pp. 114-116, and pp. 281-282)
  • To Helen” — 1969 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1: Poems, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (1:441-449)
  • “To Helen” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America) (pp. 95-97) (reprints the text from Works, 1850)


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:

  • None


Plain Text Files for Juxta:

  • None


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Hélène” — 1862 — Contes inedts d‘Edgar Poe, Paris: J. Hetzel, pp. 288-291 (French translation by William L. Hughes)
  • “A Hélène” — dated 2009, but available in late 2008 — Poèmes d‘Edgar Allan Poe, Paris: Publibook (translation by Jean Hautepierre)


  • “To Helen” — (Fragment, 2 sheets, each measuring 4 x 6 3/8 inches, comprising the title, byline, and the beginning of the poem, running through: “[. . .] (Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!) [. . .]” The text is written in what appears to be dark brown ink, running from left to right edges, on only one side of the page, apparently in an attempt to imitate Poe's use of roll manuscripts. The writing is somewhat clumsy, with a few words or parts of words being much darker than the general text. The fragment was offered as a genuine Poe manuscript by New England Book Auctions, Sale Number 366, October 21, 2008, as item 208, with an estimate of $20,000-$30,000, but was promptly retracted from sale over doubts about its authenticity. It was in the collection of Richard Oinonen, who died in 2001, and is probably the work of Joseph Cosey. It may have been kept by Mr. Oinonen as an example of a forgery by someone who was notably notorious in the field, especially for his Poe forgeries. It bears a strong resemblance to a forgery of “The Black Cat,” offered in the same sale as item 204.)



  • 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.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vol 1 Poems), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.
  • Miller, John Carl, ed., Poe's Helen Remembers, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - To Helen (Sarah Helen Whitman)