Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Hymn,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 216-218 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 216, continued:]


This little poem was originally sung by the heroine of the tale “Morella,” who was obviously a practitioner of black magic. As such she still appropriately prayed to the Blessed Virgin, since compacts with the Devil do not involve renunciation of the [page 217:] Mother of God, and medieval story included accounts of Her rescue of repentant witches who could not pray to God. “Hymn” has echoes of the great prayer, “Ave Maria, gratia plena ... Sancta Maria ... ora pro nobis.”

In 1845 Poe twice published a briefer version of Morella's prayer as a separate poem of his own, with the title “Catholic Hymn.” In the J. Lorimer Graham copy of The Raven and Other Poems the poet struck out the word “Catholic” — a sign (a passage in “For Annie” is another) that he himself revered Our Lady.

Some critics would minimize the idea that the poem shows religious feeling, but George W. Peck says in the American Review of March 1850 (n.s. 5:315) that “one need not be of the Roman faith to feel a loftier aspiration” in the “Hymn.”

In 1842, preparing printer's copy of “Morella” for inclusion in the projected PHANTASY-PIECES, Poe canceled the whole poem, and it was omitted from subsequent versions of the tale.


(A) Manuscript of “Morella,” about 1833, in the H. E. Huntington Library; (B) Southern Literary Messenger, April 1835 (1:449) in “Morella”; (C) Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, November 1839 (5:265), in “Morella”; (D) Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840), I, 13, in “Morella”; (E) PHANTASY-PIECES (exemplar of D with manuscript revisions, 1842), in “Morella”; (F) Broadway Journal, August 16, 1845 (2:88); (G) The Raven and Other Poems (1845), p. 15; (H) J. Lorimer Graham copy of The Raven ... with Poe's revisions (1849); (J) Works (1850), II, 13.

The version of J, verbally like H, is used here.

[page 218, continued:]


Title:  [in context] a Catholic hymn (A, B, C, D); Catholic Hymn (F, G, changed in H); the whole poem is canceled in E

1:  Before this A and B have:

Sancta Maria! turn thine eyes

Upon the sinner's sacrifice

Of fervent prayer and humble love,

From thy holy throne above.

This stanza is also in C and D, but they have a sinner's for the sinner's

5:  the Hours flew brightly / my hours flew gently (A, B, C, D)

6:  not a cloud obscured / no storms were in (A, B, C, D)

8:  grace / love (A, B, C, D)

9:  storms / clouds (A, B, C, D)

10:  Darkly / All (A, B, C, D)



In the introduction to the story, in which this poem originally appeared, Mabbott dates the manuscript as “late in 1834 or early in 1835” (Mabbott, Tales and Sketches, 2:224), which seems to be a better considered dating. It is possible that Poe was incorporating the poem already written into the tale, making the text of the poem earlier than the manuscript. Such a conjecture, of course, cannot be established with any certainty. It would necessarily have to date after 1831, when his most recent collection of poems had been published. It is also possible that Poe wrote it specifically for the context of the tale, for which the composition date of April 1835 seems more reliable.


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