Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Elizabeth [Rebecca],” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 147-149 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 147, continued:]


These acrostic verses were written in the album of Poe's cousin, Elizabeth Rebecca Herring. She married Arthur Turner Tutt on December 2, 1834, and was soon a widow. Later she married [page 148:] Edmund Morton Smith. In 1845 she lent Poe the exemplar of his 1829 volume (Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems) to be used, with other material, as “printer's copy” for The Raven and Other Poems. She visited the Poes at Fordham during Virginia's last illness, in 1846. She is said to have been very beautiful. Her portrait in later years (Phillips, II, 1502) confirms this judgment. She lived until October 17, 1889.


(A) Manuscript signed “Edgar” about 1829, described and lines 1-4 quoted in Catalogue of the Harold Peirce Sale, Philadelphia, May 6, 1903, lot 959, and facsimiled in the Yale List (1959), number 17; (B) Complete Poems, ed. J. H. Whitty (1911), p, 140. The original manuscript (A), now owned by H. Bradley Martin, is followed. I change square brackets to parentheses in lines 2 and 15, and correct the erroneous spelling “persuing” in line 7.

[[Poe's note]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 148:]

(1)  It was a saying of this philosopher “that one's own name should never appear in one's own book.”

[page 149:]


The initials of the lines spell out the lady's given names.

4  The saying ascribed by Poe to the Stoic philosopher Zeno has not yet been traced. See another reference to him in “To ——” (“Should my early life seem”), line 39.

6  Compare on contradiction Poe's story, “The Imp of the Perverse.”

14  The “Greek name” is the rhetorical term prolepsis.

15  Compare Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 43-44: “That which we call a rose, / By any other name would smell as sweet.”

16  In an article on Longfellow in the Broadway Journal, March 29, 1845, Poe quoted from the first sonnet of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella the famous line, “ ‘Foole,’ said my Muse to me, ‘looke in thy heart and write!’ ”



Poe refers to Zeno of Citum (about 335 B. C.-about 263 B. C.). Although no precise source for Poe's comment about books has been found, Zeon's philosophy encouraged a life of simplicity and asceticisim. For someone holding such views, possessions beyond the most basic items necessary for living would be something to avoid. Thus, to own books, which generally accumulate with surprising ease, would be inherently problematic. To sign one's name in a book is, of course, to declare ownership.


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