Text: Unknown (Diabolus), Musiad or Ninead, Baltimore, 1830


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Edited by




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THE following poem was left (in MS.) some weeks since, at my Printing-Office, by a gentleman, whom, from his extreme taciturnity, I, at the time, suspected of some sinister design. It was closely done up in a canvass envelope, and labelled in a large Italian band which my oldest devil confessed himself unable to decipher — partly because, as be afterwards observed, it was much too plain and self-evident. The stranger wished 500 copies to be printed immediately, saying that he would send for them on the Monday ensuing. I hinted my desire of looking into the packet, sur le champ, with a view of profiting by his personal experience in the reduction of a fortress whose outworks promised so formidable a resistance — The reply in the negative sounded very much like a growl. So contemptuous an answer, from so diminutive a man, induced me ‘to raise my hand for the purpose of knocking him down: but, as he looked me straight in the face, I abandoned my original intention, not forgetting, however, to embrace that opportunity of scratching my head, it being a maxim with me, as with Epictetus, that mistakes cease to be such when turned to any reasonable account. [page 4:]

The gentleman soon after moved towards the door, and since, because of his singular assurance, I could not help fancying him a moneyed man, I stood prepared, as I have been taught, to return his bow in departing — but the stranger departed. without bowing — and the effort, on my side, to regain my natural position without an obeisance destroyed my equilibrium, and prostrated me on the floor. Since then I have neither seen nor heard of this personage, and the. unaccountable obstinacy with which my diaboli defend reputation together with a strong smell of sulphur on the staircase incline me to think him no better than he should be. Still I would not have ventured to issue the books (which were printed) altho’ urged so to do as a security for my own bill, and that of the surgeon who in my fall strongly suspects the co-operation of a tail, were I not perfectly convinced that the satire is harmless, in as much as the persons satirized are, for the most part, as far beyond injury as my housekeeper's eggs.

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WHY not a Muse will deign to dwell with us —

Why Moore shall make a poem — and Dawes a fuss

I sing or will, if God will grant the power

To Rufus Dawes to hold his tongue one hour.

Muse! whom before thy fellow flock had flown

I hid, betimes, to be my love alone,

Tell how thy sisters one eventful day

Whom chance did bring, mischance did fright’n away,

Since when unmus’d we write — for write me must —

  (1) Bards will not starve, and tradesmen will not trust.

The cloth had been removed: o’er Chian wine

  (2) With Moore and Wordsworth sat the stately nine:

It was not late enough by half an hour —

The lights were dim — the Chian wine was sour —

Wordsworth was very dull — too little to drink!

  (3) Tom Moore look’d up to sigh — and down to think

An awful silence reigned which dared to break

Not ev’n Tom Moore, till thus Thalia spice.

“To list to reason may the nine refuse

“No longer, Muses! ye, who love the. Muse!

“Twice yesterday, and once again to-day

  (4) “Invokes our aid. a Yankee roundelay.” [page 6:]

She paus’d — “I know,” said Moore — “I think,” said Clio,

“We’d better pay them a short visit, heigho!”

“Adjust their claims — look over what they write” —

Added Melpomene; said Tom Moore “try it:”

“Unless we fairly see we cannot judge”

Observed Calliope; said Tom Moore, “fudge’!”

“I think, then, Wordsworth, Moore, with your consent

  (5) We’ll go” said Clio — “the devil!” said Tom: — they went.

A sea-like murmur round our nation spread —

Muses among us! life among the dead!

  (6) And heads were scratched, as on that day which gave

Miss Frances Wright the world to deafen, and save.

And let them scratch! be mine nil admirari —

  (7) Miss Wright is very right — The six foot fairy!

And Mrs Royal’, tho’ of tenderer stuff;

For democrats is royalty enough.

What temple have we for the Muses fit?

What court for mind ? what tribunal for wit?

There dwell (where Chesnut proves, to all who see,

  (8) Of a right line the possibility —

Where gilded tomes the passer-by invite

If rich, to read — if better off — to write —

Where nonsense, gratis, from a foreign land

Is by new fools admir’d at second hand. —

Where dust is very scarce and folly thickens)

  (9) A goose, and two of Mother Carey's chickens: [page 7:]

There lit the nine — thence loud the rumour rings

(10) “To night we will assay what ev’n McHenry sings.”

Blue were the stockings — blue, the candlelight

In the blue room where sat the nine that night —

Where sat the nine! and. good Lord! how they sat?

(11) Did Captain Basil e’er see the like of that?

On books! how little do the Muses know

Of what we think most holy here below!

Only behold! Melpomene, the wench

Is sitting on Hadad, instead of bench!

See! Polyhymnia lolls upon a super —

— Fine copy of the last new lie of Cooper!

And Erato is in a corner, serving

Her nether parts with an old tale of Irving!

(12) While Patrick Henry, Wirt, is thinking now

Calliope a lighter load than thou!

He would have died to set the country free —

But oh! to die so damned a death in thee!

The nine were seated as I sang before —

Willis was there, and bowed — what could he more?

(He rang the bell as he came thro’ the door) —

(13) Willis! whose shirt-collar — whose look — Whose tone is

The beau-ideal fancied for Adonis!

“Ladies!” he said, and blush’d, “behold in me

“(I’m scarce of age) an early devotee!

“1 sing — the Muses bid, and why be mute?

“I dance — the Muses dance — I play the flute — [page 8:]

“I play the fool — the devil — and, better yet,

(14) “I damned a Token, soon will a Gazette —

“To low ambition and the pride of kings.

(15) “I leave the rest and write unwritten things!”

Next Pickering came, and grieved, fond youth! to see

A sad example more, poor Nat! in thee

Of those who, bat-like, blind with open eyes

(16) Will not write sense, and dare not sonnetize.

(17) Next Poe who smil’d at reason, laugh’d at law,

And played a tune who should have play’d at taw;

Now strain’d a license, and now crack’d a string,

But sang as older children dare not sing.

Said Clio “by all the wise, who can admit

“Beardless no goat a goat — no wit a wit,

(18) “Say! did not Billy Gywnn, the great, combine

“With little Lucas to put down thy line?

“And thou! thy very heart is on thy toy!

“Thy red-hot lyre will burn thee — drop it, boy!”

While yet he s a trump was heard — a shout —

(19) And Sumner, Lincoln, Fairfield shov’d him out —

“Yield!” said the youth, and shov’d — “ respect your betters,

“And bow to names of two and twenty letters.”

What tho’ his neckcloth sat somewhat awry,

In a fine frenzy roll’d the poet's eye —

His high thoughts were — if not his coat — his own,

And all Apollo trembled in his tone.



The surviving copies in the Lilly Library and the John Hay Library are both only 8 pages. The purpose of the numbers by several lines is unknown, but may have been intended to direct the reader to end notes that were never written.


[S:0 - MN, facsimile, 1830] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Rejected - Musiad or Ninead (Diabolus, 1830)