Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “To — — (Should my early life seem),” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 129-132 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 129, continued:]

TO — —
(“Should my early life seem”)

It is uncertain who the lady addressed is: possibly Elizabeth [page 130:] Rebecca Herring, Poe’s cousin. The chief image is unusual, that of sands running through the fingers rather than in an hourglass.

Usually this poem is treated as an early version of “A Dream Within a Dream” of 1849, but here, because of the great extent of the revision, we take it up as a separate entity. This 1829 version uses little from the 1827 “Imitation”; only one line is unaltered. The late version of 1839 retains no line of 1827 and very little of the 1829 version.


(A) Manuscript, about 1829, once in the possession of Lambert A. Wilmer, described by Stedman and Woodberry, Works, X, 228-229; (B) Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette, December 1829 (p. 298), lines 13-26; (C) Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829), pp. 59-60; (D) Poems (1831), pp. 123-124, where lines 13-26 are incorporated in “Tamerlane” as section XXIV.

The text given here is C. Version D is given above at page 53, but the variants are also recorded below. In the Herring copy of the volume of 1829, sent to the printer of The Raven and Other Poems in 1845, the whole poem is marked for deletion.

[page 131, continued:]


Title:  omitted (B, D)

6  For / To (A)

13  If my peace hath flown away (B, D)

16  Is it the less gone? (A)

17  am / was (D)

18  weather-beaten / wind-beaten (D)

19  hold / held (D)

21  How bright! and yet to creep (D)

26  why in the battle did not I? (D)

[page 132:]


1  Identical with line 4 of “Imitation.”

4  Among Napoleon Bonaparte’s titles were those of King of Italy (1805) and, finally, King of Elba (1814). The latter is perhaps alluded to here. His beliefs in his star and in himself as a man of destiny are famous.

9-12  Compare “Imitation” (1827), lines 7-10.

39  Zeno of Citium in Cyprus, founder of the Stoic philosophy, is mentioned in Poe’s album verses, “Elizabeth [Rebecca],” also apparently of 1829. Zeno’s chief doctrine was of endurance.





[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions-The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (To -- -- (Should my early life seem))