Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Lines on Ale,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 449-450 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 449, continued:]


This stanza is said to have been written in 1848 or 1849 by Poe at the Washington Tavern (founded in 1836) at Lowell, Massachusetts. He visited Lowell more than once in the last two years of his life, but the most probable occasion of his visiting the tavern was before his lecture on “Poets and Poetry of America” at Wentworth Hall, July 10, 1848. Mrs. Weiss (Home Life, p. 162) repeats a not unlikely story that when going to talk in a large company Poe found “some little stimulant was necessary to him.”

The manuscript long hung on the wall of the tavern and was seen in 1892 by my informant, Mr. Jerry Murphy, when he began to work there. It disappeared before 1920. Years later Mr. Murphy recited the lines to Ethel Flamma (Mrs. Ario Flamma), who consulted Belle da Costa Greene about the discovery. Put in touch with me, Mr. Murphy, retired and living in Boston, sent me for publication a copy of the poem as he recalled it. It was printed in the London Notes and Queries of July 29, 1939 (pp. 77-78), and is now first collected.

Absolutely complete authentication is not possible, but the piece comes in an unsuspicious way, and I regard it as authentic. Poe was given to making up harmless little rhymes, but the fact has never been widely known — not enough, at least, to suggest forgery of a piece like this — and traditions about places, when not extravagant, are proverbially reliable.

Mr. Murphy was not sure of all the words; in the first line he thought “Fill” might have been “Filled”; the second line, “Fill that glass again”; and that “Quaintest” in line 5 might have [page 450:] been “Faintest.” Metrically that line would be better thus: “Quaintest thought and queerest fancies.”



For a note on why this poem is now rejected, see the bibliographical entry.


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