Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. John H. Ingram), “An Enigma,” The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, vol. III, 1875, p. 24


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[page 24:]

AN ENIGMA.

SELDOM we find,” says Solomon Don Dunce,

“Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.

Through all the flimsy things we see at once

As easily as through a Naples bonnet —

Trash of all trash! — how can a lady don it?

Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff —

Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff

Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.”

And, veritably, Sol is right enough.

The general tuckermanities are arrant

Bubbles — ephemeral and so transparent —

But this is, now — you may depend upon it —

Stable, opaque, immortal — all by dint

Of the dear names that lie concealed within ’t.

[See previous page.]


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Notes:

In his printing, Ingram renders the relevant letters in bold Gothic type. In the present text, they are simply marked as bold.

The hidden name in this poem is that of Sarah Anna Lewis. It is spelled with one letter on each line, the first letter of the first line “S”, the second letter of the second line “a”, the third letter of the third line “r”, etc. In the following copy of the text, punctuation and spaces have been removed and the relevant letters marked in red to make the matter clear:

SeldomwefindsaysSolomonDonDunce

Halfanideaintheprofoundestsonnet

Throughalltheflimsythingsweseeatonce

AseasilyasthroughaNaplesbonnet

Trashofalltrashhowcan aladydonit

YetheavierfarthanyourPetrarchanstuff

Owldownynonsensethatthefaintestpuff

Twirlsintotrunkpaperthewhileyouconit

AndveritablySolisrightenough

Thegeneraltuckermanitiesarearrant

Bubblesephemeralandso transparent

Butthisisnowyoumaydependuponit

Stableopaqueimmortalallbydint

Ofthedearnamesthatlieconcealedwithint

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[S:0 - JHI, 1875] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - An Enigma (J. H. Ingram, 1875)