Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Imitation,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 75-76 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 75:]


“Imitation,” in the 1827 volume and “To — —” (“Should my early life seem”) of 1829 have usually been treated as variants of “A Dream Within a Dream” (1849). But they have so little in common that I treat them here as three separate poems under their proper years. The second poem uses but one line (4) unaltered from the first, and the third none at all. For the general meaning of the poem see the 1827 version of “Tamerlane,” lines 160ff.


There is only one text, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), pp. 29-30, which Poe surely did not see in proof. I emend two sure misprints: “on” to “of” in line 12 and “sight” to “sigh” in line 18, and change the comma in line 8, for sense, to a period. The spelling “controul” in line 13 was probably tolerated in 1827.

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Title:  The imitation is of Byron. Compare lines 6-10 with “The Dream,” I. 7 “They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts ...” and I, 21: “With beings brighter than have been ...” and Manfred, I, i, 212-213: “Though thou seest me not pass by, / Thou shalt feel me with thine eye.”

9-10  The lines express a wish.

19-20  Byron’s “Dream” is about Mary Chaworth, whom that poet failed to win, as Poe failed to wed Elmira Royster. In his youth Poe probably loved Elmira deeply. But his plate article in the Columbian Magazine for December 1844, “Byron and Miss Chaworth,” makes it clear that in middle life Poe took a cool view of early love.



Mabbott’s assertion that “controul” was an accepted spelling in 1827 is correct, although see the second line of variant A of “A Dream” for Poe’s contemporary use of “control.” As one of numerous examples that might be provided, an 1822 imprint of Walter Scott’s Tales of My Landlord (Philadelphia: James Maxwell) has “controul thy impatience ...” (p. 148). In later years, the spelling was considered British and largely gave way to ”control” in the United States, as would eventually also happen to such spellings as “colour” and “honour.”


[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions-The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Imitation)