Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Ulalume: A Ballad” (Text-06b), Providence Daily Journal, November 22, 1848, p. 1


[page 1:]

Daily Journal.




We do not know how many readers we have who will enjoy, as we do, the following exquisitely piquant and skillful exercise of rarity and niceness of language. It is a poem which we find in the American Review, full of beauty and oddity in sentiment and versification, but a curiosity (and a delicious one, we think,) in its philological flavor. Who is the author?

In copying the paragraph above from Willis’ “Home Journal,” the “Saturday Courier,” of Philadelphia, gave the usual credit by appending the words, “Home Journal, N. P. Willis.[[”]] A Southern paper mistook the words, however, as a reply to the query just preceding — “Who is the author?” and thus, in reprinting the ballad, assigned it to the pen of Willis: — but, by way of rendering unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, we now correct the mistake — which would have been natural enough but for the wide difference of style between “Ulalume,” and anything written by Willis. “Ulalume,” although published anonymously in “The American Review,” is known to be the composition of EDGAR A. POE.


The skies were ashen and sober;

The leaves they were crisped and sere —

The leaves they were withering and sere;

It was night in the lonesome October

Of my most immemorial year;

It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,

In the misty mid region of Weir —

It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,

In the ghoul[[-]]haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,

Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul —

Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.

These were days when my heart was volcanic

As the scoriac rivers that roll —

As the lavas that restlessly roll

Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek

In the ultimate climes of the pole —

That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek

In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,

But our thoughts they were palsied and sere —

Our memories were treacherous and sere —

For we knew not the month was October,

And we marked not the night of the year —

(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)

We noted not the dim lake of Auber —

(Though once we had journeyed down here) —

Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,

Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent

As star-dials pointed to morn —

And the star-dials hinted of morn —

At the end of our path a liquescent

And nebulous lustre was born,

Out of which a miraculous crescent

Arose with a duplicate horn —

Astarte's bediamonded crescent

Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said — “She is warmer than Dian:

She rolls through an ether of sighs —

She revels in a region of sighs:

She has seen that the tears are not dry on

These cheeks, where the worm never dies,

And has come past the stars of the Lion

To point us the path to the skies —

To the Lethean peace of the skies —

Come up, in despite of the Lion,

To shine on us with her bright eyes —

Come up through the lair of the Lion,

With Love in her luminous eyes.”

But Psyche, uplifted her finger,

Said — “Sadly this star I mistrust —

Her pallor I strangely mistrust: —

Oh, hasten! — oh, let us not linger!

Oh, fly! — let us fly! — for we must.”

In terror she spoke, letting sink her

Plumes till they trailed in the dust —

In agony sobbed, letting sink her

Wings till they trailed in the dust —

Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied — “This is nothing but dreaming:

Let us on by this tremulous light!

Let us bathe in this crystalline light!

Its Sybilic splendor is beaming

With Hope and in Beauty to-night: —

See! — it flickers up the sky through the night!

Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,

And be sure it will lead us aright —

We safely may trust to a gleaming

That cannot but guide us aright,

Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,

And tempted her out of her gloom —

And conquered her scruples and gloom;

And we passed to the end of the vista,

But we stopped by the door of a tomb —

By the door of a legended tomb;

And I said — “What is written, sweet sister,

On the door of this legended tomb?”

She replied — “Ulalume — Ulalume —

’Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober

As the leaves that were crisped and sere —

As the leaves that were withering and sere,

And I cried — “It was surely October

On this very night of last year

That I journeyed — I journeyed down here —

That I brought a dread burden down here —

On this night of all nights in the year,

Oh, what demon has tempted me here?

Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber —

This misty mid region of Weir —

Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,

This ghoul haunted [[ghoul-haunted]] woodland of Weir.”



In this version, Poe followed the advice of Sarah H. Whitman and omitted the final stanza. It was restored in later printings, and Poe himself gives it in the manuscript he gave to Miss Ingram, which appears to be the final version. The “Southern paper’ mentioned as having copied the poem with the misleading information has not been identified. The story seems strangely reminiscent of “Lenore,” which was printed in the Evening Mirror of November 28, 1844, with an introductory note to correct the same mis-identification. Poe may have intentionally misled the editor for the sake of enhancing interest in the poem.


[S:1 - PJ, 1849 (pc - MUI)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Ulalume (Text-08)