Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?) (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Appendix IV (Apocrypha-I: Doubtful Poems),” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 497-502 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 497:]

[[Doubtful Poems]]

The following poems have been ascribed to Poe plausibly but with insufficient evidence to warrant their inclusion in the canon. There is reason enough behind the ascriptions, however, to justify their presentation in an appendix. Further evidence may yet appear.


This poem presents many problems, some of which are not completely soluble at present. John H. Hewitt, said that in Richmond he “found two manuscripts of Poe's, given me by ladies of that city.” Hewitt said he sent them to Neilson Poe who said he did not receive them. Nothing is known of the second poem, but Hewitt, who was vague about dates, printed the poem “To Irenë” in the Staunton Spectator, March 23, 1869, with a note:

Messrs Editors: The following lines, written by Edgar A. Poe, were copied from the fly-leaf of a music book, belonging to a lady of Richmond. I have every reason to believe that they are genuine, as they were in his hand-writing and over the initials of E.A.P. Of their merit I have nothing to say. CHIPS

The signature is one acknowledged by Hewitt, who preserved a clipping among his papers, now at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. See Recollections of Poe by John Hill Hewitt, edited by Richard Barksdale Harwell (Atlanta, 1949), especially pp. 20 and 29. The ascription cannot be lightly dismissed, but cannot be accepted without reservations. Hewitt was given to the uncritical use of legendary material, how well he knew the handwriting of Poe may be questioned, and the manuscript from which he copied the verses has never turned up, although Hewitt implies it had survived the Civil War. I do not think Hewitt himself would have perpetrated a hoax, but by 1869 hoaxers were busy with Poe. The echo in the second stanza of Moore's constantly quoted lines in Lalla Rookh, “I never loved a tree or flower ... I never nursed a dear gazelle,” means little. The verses, if genuine, must have been written about 1836. The text given here is from the file of the Staunton Spectator at the University of Virginia. I add a diaeresis in the title because of the difference in pronunciation in our day from Poe's.


Thou wert alone — thy harp was mute,

And grief was written on thy face; [page 498:]

A sigh, it's tell-tale attribute,

Stole softly from its native place.


Why fade the roses from thy brow?

Art thou, too, wedded unto woe?

It is too true — thou grievest now,

And scalding tears profusely flow.

’Tis so with me: my journey past


Has been o’er thorns of toil and grief;

My hours of youth were overcast,

Tears blotted Fate's mysterious leaf.

I never lov’d or garner’d up

A little bliss, but what some power


Would dash away the sweeten’d cup,

Or blight and crush the cherish’d flower.

My heart's a charnel house, where sleep

The bones of hopes, once fondly cherish’d,

What have I now to do, but weep


And groan o’er pleasures long since perish’d?

What — but to laugh when thou dost sigh?

What — but to gloat o’er one so fair,

Whose glad star once shone proudly high,

Only to set in dark despair?


Weep on, weep on — thy hot tears flow

Like blood-drops oozing from the heart;

We’ve laugh’d together — now of woe

Thou, surely, must receive thy part.

Together we will riot in


The carnival of sighs and tears,

Hugging the hooded form of Sin

That haunts the tomb of perish’d years.



This piece, hitherto never reprinted, is ascribed to Poe with great reservation. I first heard of it from J. H. Whitty, who told me that F. W. Thomas said Poe wrote a poem for the second number of the Military Magazine. If Poe did contribute a poem to the periodical, “The Trumpet Reveillee,” though signed “S.” and in the seventh number (September 1839), must be the piece.

In its final form the magazine was issued in two bound volumes described thus by the catalogue at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

The Military Magazine: and record of the volunteers of the city and county of Philadelphia. Comprising authentic data of their Institution, Organization, and matters generally pertaining thereto, tending to foster the spirit of Patriotism so essential to the preservation [page 499:] of our social institutions, and to merit for Citizen Soldiery the approbation and applause of their fellow citizens. In 2 Vols. royal quarto, 24 No.'s each. Embellished with 2 views to each number. Edited by William M. Huddy. Philadelphia. Published by William M. Huddy, No. 84 Noble Street.

Poe, in noticing two numbers favorably in Burton's (December 1839 and February 1840), in one issue calls it the United States’ Military Magazine and in the other The U.S. Military Magazine. He names as publishers Huddy and Duval. The latter was Peter S. Duval, who made the plates for “Poe's” Conchologist's First Book in 1839. Woodberry says that in the United States Military Magazine, “at one time [Poe] had an article of considerable length.”(1) I have, however, found nothing in the prose of the magazine to be identified stylistically as Poe's.

“The Trumpet Reveillee” is headed “For the U.S. Military Magazine” and occupies the lower half of p. 51. It was perhaps written “to fill.” Poe was obliging to friends in matters of this kind, as we know. Copies of the publication are very rare; the only complete files I have located are in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Library at West Point; the latter is used here.

This information obviously is unsatisfactory, but the poem is melodious and correct enough to be authentic, and the chances of complete authentication some day seem to me to warrant inclusion of a text here, with a caveat.


Hark! Hark! Hark! to the trumpet's merry call,

Loud through the dales and the ringing woods resounding;

Hark! how it floats amid the cedars tall,

From the rough mountain's rocky breast rebounding.


Up! Up! Up! for the ruddy day is there,

There, where the East with opal hues is glowing;

Up! for the steeds have snuff’d the morning air,

Down from the hills in balmy freshness blowing.

Wake! Wake! Wake! for the booming morning gun,


Pours to the dawn a loud, exultant greeting;

Wake! the last star, its high guard-duty done,

From the red sky is sullenly retreating.

March! March! March! ere the risen orb shall beam,

Fierce on our path, its noontide fervor pouring!


March! till the flash of friendly steel shall gleam,

Where the wild ocean's thousand waves are roaring.


[1839] [page 500:]


The authenticity of this bitterly satirical epigram is not completely established and its date is largely a matter of conjecture. The manuscript was found about 1938 by workmen moving furniture from a downtown office in Baltimore, and it was acquired by Mr. Paul S. Clarkson, who felt so much doubt about it that he did not announce the discovery until 1942.

The manuscript consists of a single leaf, at the top of which is written “Edgar A. Poe,” and at the bottom an extract from “Al Aaraaf,” II, 100-109, both in a large hand. Between them, in a small, almost printlike hand, resembling one Poe sometimes used in the thirties, is the “Monody.” In the extract from “Al Aaraaf,” II, 102, “ideas” is put for “idea” (spoiling the rhyme), and in the words “toss” and “albatross” the penultimate letter is an old fashioned long s which is also used in “ass” in the first line of the “Monody.” This usage is almost unparalleled in late manuscripts of Poe. Such freaks are not in the manner of forgers and hoaxers. It might be suggested that Poe was not sober when he produced the manuscript. His letter of March 11, 1843, facsimiled in W. F. Gill's Life (1878), facing p. 120, shows unusual handwriting, but includes no example of double s. No other manuscript surely written by Poe when he was inebriated is known.

The subject of the piece is undoubtedly Denison Olmsted (1791-1859), who was Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Yale from 1825 to 1836, and who thereafter until his death held the chair of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy. He received his doctorate when the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by New York University on July 2, 1845. Poe had been asked to read a poem in connection with the commencement of that year, and so must have taken some interest in it.(1)

It is not easy to explain why Poe should have disliked Professor Olmsted. Careful investigation reveals one possible reason for his contempt,(2) although the exact occasion that provoked the poem has not been found. Olmsted wrote on many subjects — including widely used textbooks — but he was particularly renowned for his publication (in the American Journal of Science and Arts, January-April 1834, January 1836) of papers on the Leonid shower (of meteors) in 1833, which had caused tremendous excitement, especially in Baltimore. The papers were referred to as a brilliant contribution to knowledge. But Olmsted declared that the meteors originated in “a body 2238 miles from the Earth.” So minutely exact an estimate, in view of the obviously inexact data on which it was based, could come only from an extremely self-satisfied person, and Poe disliked pretentious scientists.(3) [page 501:]

The date I assign the poem is appropriate, for Poe was in Baltimore in about March and April of 1846, less than a year after Olmsted received his degree. He was there again (not always sober) in 1847 and 1848. However, since Olmsted as a prominent scientist was probably called “Doctor” long before he really was one, a far earlier date may be possible.


(A) Manuscript; (B) Baltimore Sun, August 18, 1942. The text used is A, from a photostat sent me by the owner.



There is a strong tradition in Baltimore that Poe once engaged in a contest with John Lofland, the Milford Bard, to see which of them could write [page 502:] more verses in a given time — and that Poe was the loser. It comes to us in two very different forms, both told with probably imaginary details.

The earlier form encountered is in William Fearing Gill's Life of Edgar Allan Poe (1877), pp. 46-49, as “narrated by a Baltimore acquaintance of Poe.” According to this story, Poe met in a bookstore (presumably that of Edward J. Coale) the very voluminous versifier, John Lofland, M.D.,(1) who took his sobriquet from his home in Milford, Delaware, where he was born in 1798. Lofland is said to have boasted to Poe that he could “write more stanzas in one hour than you can in a whole day.” Poe accepted the challenge, and “the Bard ... in quantity ... tipped the scale.” In this story both men were represented as authors of recent books. Lofland's The Harp of Delaware came out in 1828. A date soon after Poe's book of 1829 will fit the contest; no other is probable bibliographically.

The other version, clearly independent of Gill's, is in John Smithers’ Life of John Lofland (1894), p. 108, and is largely quoted by Miss Phillips, Edgar Allan Poe the Man (1926), p. 457. Smithers has a number of poets meeting at the Seven Stars Tavern, and Poe as the challenger. It is less credible in details than Gill's story, but the survival of the tradition in these two romantically fictional versions seems to point to some basis in fact. Happily, nobody has claimed to recall any of the verses written in the contest.

[page 501, continued:]

VARIANTS [[To “Monody on Doctor Olmstead”]]

Title:  if dead / First written dead and

8  As tainting / First written ’Tis famous then changed to something illegible; third reading is that of text.

[page 501, continued:]

NOTES [[To “Monody on Doctor Olmstead”]]

Title:  Among the imaginary contributions to magazines listed in “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob,” is “Monody in a Mud-puddle by Mr. Mumblethumb.”

2  There is a triple pun here, on “classic,” “class” (of students), and “ass.”

7  The exact occasion of Olmsted's remark remains unknown and is difficult to search for, in view of the uncertainty of the date of the epigram. Some of his prefaces reveal his complacent satisfaction with the clarity of his exposition.

9  Compare Politian, X, 1-2: “that's flat / Extremely flat.”


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 499:]

1  Life (1909), I, 265; in Edgar Allan Poe (1885), p. 143, he says “articles.” His footnote in both cases cites — without directly quoting — “P. S. Duval to the author, August 4, 1884,” and adds that the magazine was printed in Duval's shop.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 500:]

1  See The New-York Daily Tribune, July 1, 2, 3, 1845.

2  This and the grim vigor of the piece induce me to accept the poem as Poe's, with only slight reservations. Observe the author's command of versification — the ninth line is a syllable short, but highly effective.

3  Compare Poe's satirical use of Dionysius Lardner, LL.D., in “Three Sundays in a Week.” Olmsted's papers were synopsized in Thomas Dick's Atmosphere and Atmospherical Phenomena (1848), of which I use the reprint (Cincinnati, 1855), p. 44. Dick, oddly enough, does not point out that Olmsted's estimate is too good to be true.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 502:]

1  Lofland wrote an immense amount of prose and verse — a stanza of his is quoted among the sources of Poe's “Song,” p, 67 above — under his sobriquet and as a ghost writer. He was for a time addicted to opium, and lived in a hospital at Baltimore, 1838-1846, to be cured. He was a kindly, harmless, and picturesque eccentric. When he died on January 22, 1849, he was literary editor of the weekly newspaper called the Blue Hen's Chicken in Wilmington, Delaware.






[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions-The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Appendix IV-Apocrypha-I: Doubtful Poems)