Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “To M— (I heed not),” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 135-138 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 135, continued:]

(“I heed not”)

Called “Alone” in the earliest version, “To M—” in the 1829 volume, and “To —” in a late manuscript, the poem is extremely personal — and, in the final version, worthy of the term “perfect.” The allusions will be patent to anyone acquainted with the early life of Poe.

The identities of the ladies addressed, however, are quite uncertain. “M—” cannot be Mary Starr, whom Poe did not know so early as 1829. And it is quite unthinkable that Poe called Mrs. Clemm by her first name, Maria (in the early nineteenth century!), nor was she yet “Muddy” to him. Nor could “M—” have been [page 136:] Poe's cousin Mary Estelle [[Esther]] Herring (Elizabeth Herring's half-sister), a small child in 1829. Could Mary Winfree have met and mentioned Elmira to Poe earlier than 1834, and be addressed in this poem of 1829?

The presence of the late manuscript (which is signed “E. A. P.”) in the Griswold Collection suggests that Frances Sargent Osgood may have been addressed in the final version, for Griswold was literary executor of both Poe and Mrs. Osgood.


(A) Manuscript, about 1828, once in the possession of Lambert A. Wilmer (described by Stedman and Woodberry, Works, X, 193-194); (B) Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829), pp. 68-69; (C) Herring copy of Al Aaraaf ... , with changes of 1845; (D) manuscript 1845-1849, from the papers of R. W. Griswold, facsimile in Woodberry, Life, II, 328; (E) Works (1850), II, 51. The texts given are B and D (verbally like E) in full. The first eight lines were not marked for deletion in C, but did not appear in the volume of 1845.

[page 137, continued:]

VARIANTS [[to version B]]

Title:  Alone (A)

9-12  This stanza stood thus in A:

I heed not that my founts of bliss

Be gushing, oh! with tears

That the tremor of one kiss

Hath palsied many years —

9-20  Marked for deletion in C

19  yet / and (A)

20  lady / love (A)

[page 137, continued:]

NOTES [[to version B]]

3-4  Compare Dryden's All for Love, IV, 520f.: “And thus one minute's feigning has destroyed / My whole life's truth.”

19  John H. Hewitt thought the line offensive, and said so (in the Baltimore Minerva and Emerald) in a review of Al Aaraaf, to which he refers in his autobiographic Shadows on the Wall (1877), p. 43. But the meaning is clear enough: the poet is alive, though dead to certain friends of his past. Poe in his “Selections from Milton” quotes Sonnet XIV, “this earthly load / Of death called life.” See Thomas P. Haviland in PMLA, September 1954. [page 138:]

20  Compare, on the desire to be alone, Poe's late, unfinished tale “The Lighthouse,” as well as passages in “Metzengerstein” and “The Man of the Crowd.”





[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions-The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (To M-- (I heed not))