Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. James H. Whitty), “Notes and Variorum Text (Part 01),” The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1911, pp. 183-247


[page 183:]



THE sources of the text for E. A. Poe's poems are the editions published by him in 1827, 1829, 1831, and 1845; the manuscripts of poems in Poe's own hand; copy of 1829 Poems with corrections made in Poe's hand; the magazines and newspapers to which he contributed poems, viz.: —

The Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette; The Philadelphia Casket; The Baltimore Saturday Morning Visitor; Richmond Southern Literary Messenger; Godey's Lady's Book; Baltimore American Museum; Burton's Gentleman's Magazine; Graham's Magazine; Philadelphia Saturday Museum; Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post; The New York Evening Mirror; New York Broadway Journal; New York Literary Emporium; New York American Whig Review; The London Critic; New York Missionary Memorial; New York Literary World; New York Home Journal; Sartain's Union Magazine; New York Union Magazine; Boston Flag of Our Union; New York Tribune; Philadelphia Leaflets of Memory; Richmond Examiner; Richmond Whig; Griswold's 1850 poems [[, Griswold's “Gift Leaves of American Poetry” 1849,]] and “Poets and Poetry of America,” 1842 and 1855. The manuscript sources superior to the texts are the J. Lorimer Graham copy of the 1845 poems, with corrections in Poe's hand, and the F. W. Thomas manuscript Recollections of E. A. Poe, with poems contributed to the Richmond Examiner, corrected in proof in Poe's hand shortly before his death.

The editions of Poems [[poems]] issued by Poe were: —



Young heads are giddy and young hearts are warm

And make mistakes for manhood to reform. — COWPER.

Boston. / CALVIN F. S. THOMAS . . . PRINTER / 1827.

Collation: Title, p. 1; verso blank, p. 2; Preface, pp. 3-4; TAMERLANE, pp. 5-21; verso blank, p. 22; half title, Fugitive Pieces, p. 23; verso blank, p. 24; Fugitive Pieces, pp. 25-34; half title, Notes, p. 35; [page 184:] verso blank, p. 36; Notes, pp. 37-40. Contents: Tamerlane; Fugitive Pieces: To — ; Dreams; Visit of the Dead; Evening Star; Imitation; Communion with Nature; A wilder’d being from my birth; The happiest day — the happiest hour; The Lake; Author's Notes (To Tamerlane).

The volume measures 6.37 by 4.13 inches, and was issued as a pamphlet in yellow covers. Only three copies are known. One is in the British Museum, and the other two are in the library of a New York collector. Mr. R. H. Shepherd made a reprint of the British Museum copy in 1884, with corrections of misprints in a separate list.

The preface reads as follows: “The greater part of the poems which compose this little volume were written in the year 1821-2, when the author had not completed his fourteenth year. They were of course not intended for publication; why they are now published concerns no one but himself. Of the smaller pieces very little need be said: They perhaps savor too much of egotism; but they were written by one too young to have any knowledge of the world but from his own breast.

“In ‘Tamerlane’ he has endeavored to expose the folly of even risking the best feelings of the heart at the shrine of Ambition. He is conscious that in this there are many faults (besides that of the general character of the poems), which he flatters himself he could, with little trouble, have corrected, but unlike many of his predecessors, has been too fond of his early productions to amend them in his old age.

“He will not say that he is indifferent as to the success of these Poems — it might stimulate him to other attempts — but he can safely assert that failure will not at all influence him in a resolution already adopted. This is challenging criticism — let it be so. Nos haec novimus esse nihil.”



Collation: Title, p. 1; verso (copyright secured), p. 2 (in lower right hand corner: Matchett & Woods Printers); p. 3, quotation:

Entiendes, Fabio, lo que voi deciendo?

Toma, si, lo entendio: — Mientes, Fabio.

p. 4, blank; p. 5, half title: AL AARAAF; verso, p. 6:

What has night to do with sleep? — COMUS. [page 185:]

p. 7, Dedication:

Who drinks the deepest? — here's to him. — CLEAVELAND.

p. 8, blank; p. 9, “A star was discovered by Tycho Brahe which burst forth in a / moment, with a splendor surpassing that of Jupiter — then gradually / faded away and became invisible to the naked eye.” p. 10, blank; p. 11, poem, Science; p. 12, blank; pp. 13-21, AL AARAAF, part I.; p. 22, blank; p. 23, half title, AL AARAAF; verso blank, p. 24; pp. 25-38, AL AARAAF, part II.; p. 39, half title, TAMERLANE; p. 40:


This poem was printed for publication in Boston, in the year / 1827, but suppressed through circumstances of a private nature.

p. 41, Dedication: TO / JOHN NEAL / THIS POEM / IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED. / p. 42, blank; pp. 43-54, TAMERLANE; / p. 55, half title, MISCELLANEOUS POEMS; p. 56:

My nothingness — my wants —

My sins — And my contrition — SOUTHEY E. PERSIS.(1)

And some flowers — but no bays. — MILTON.

p. 57, poem, Romance; p 58, blank; pp. 59-71, POEMS, numbered 1 to 9. Issued in boards, with tinted paper covering, muslin backs. Size of leaf untrimmed 8.75 by 5.25 inches. One copy in the library of a New York collector has the date 1820, which some think a printer's error, while others are of the opinion that Poe had that date put in on purpose. This was a presentation copy to his cousin Elizabeth (Herring). It also has his corrections in his own hand made for the 1845 edition of his poems. Some copies have the poem “Science” on the unpaged leaf. Some ten or more copies of the volume are known. One is in the New York Public Library, another in the Peabody Institute, Baltimore, and the others mainly in private libraries — five in New York City, one in Chicago, one in Washington, and one in Pittsburg.


POEMS / By / Edgar A. Poe. / (Rule) Tout le Monde a Raison. — Rochefoucault. / (Rule) Second Edition / (Rule) New York: / Published by Elam Bliss. / (Rule) 1831

Collation: p. 1, half title, Poems; verso blank, p. 2; p. 3, title; p. 4, imprint; p. 5, Dedication, To The U. S. / Corps Of Cadets / This volume [page 186:] / is Respectfully Dedicated; verso blank, p. 6; p. 7, Contents; verso blank, p. 8; half title, “Letter,” p. 9; verso blank, p. 10; p. 11, Quotation; verso blank, p. 12; pp. 13-29, text of letter to Mr. — ; verso blank, p. 30; p. 31, half title, “Introduction”; verso blank, p. 32; pp. 33-124, POEMS: Helen, Israfel, The Doomed City, Fairy-land, Irene, A Pæan, The Valley Nis, Science, A1 Aaraaf, Tamerlane. Size of leaf untrimmed 6.75 by 3.75 inches. Issued in cloth binding. Some copies have the word “The End” on the last leaf. Six copies are known, but there are likely others.

The original form of the 1831 letter,(1) with the Southern Literary Messenger variations, follows: —

It has been said that a good critique on a poem may be written by one who is no poet himself. This, according to your idea and mine of poetry, I feel to be false — the less poetical the critic, the less just the critique, and the converse. On this account, and because there are but few B——'s in the world, I would be as much ashamed of the world's good opinion as proud of your own. Another than yourself might here observe, “Shakespeare is in possession of the world's good opinion, and yet Shakespeare is the greatest of poets. It appears then that the world judge correctly, why should you be ashamed of their favorable judgment?” The difficulty lies in the interpretation of the word “judgment” or “opinion.” The opinion is the world's, truly, but it may be called theirs as a man would call a book his, having bought it; he did not write the book, but it is his; they did not originate the opinion, but it is theirs. A fool, for example, thinks Shakespeare a great poet — yet the fool has never read Shakespeare. But the fool's neighbor, who is a step higher on the Andes of the mind, whose head (that is to say, his more exalted thought) is too far above the fool to be seen or understood, but whose feet (by which I mean his every-day actions) are sufficiently near to be discerned, and by means of which that superiority is ascertained, which but for them would never have been discovered — this neighbor asserts that Shakespeare is a great poet — the fool believes him, and it is henceforward his opinion. This neighbor's own opinion has, in like manner, been adopted from one [page 187:] above him, and so, ascendingly, to a few gifted individuals who kneel around the summit, beholding, face to face, the master spirit who stands upon the pinnacle. * * *

You are aware of the great barrier in the path of an American writer. He is read, if at all, in preference to the combined and established wit of the world. I say established; for it is with literature as with law or empire — an established name is an estate in tenure, or a throne in possession. Besides, one might suppose that books, like their authors, improve by travel — their having crossed the sea is, with us, so great a distinction. Our antiquaries abandon time for distance; our very fops glance from the binding to the bottom of the title-page, where the mystic characters which spell London, Paris, or Genoa, are precisely so many letters of recommendation. * * *

I mentioned just now a vulgar error as regards criticism. I think the notion that no poet can form a correct estimate of his own writings is another. I remarked before, that in proportion to the poetical talent, would be the justice of a critique upon poetry. Therefore, a bad poet would, I grant, make a false critique, and his self-love would infallibly bias his little judgment in his favor; but a poet, who is indeed a poet, could not, I think, fail of making a just critique. Whatever should be deducted on the score of self-love, might be replaced on account of his intimate acquaintance with the subject; in short, we have more instances of false criticism than of just, where one's own writings are the test, simply because we have more bad poets than good. There are of course many objections to what I say: Milton is a great example of the contrary; but his opinion with respect to the Paradise Regained is by no means fairly ascertained. By what trivial circumstances men are often led to assert what they do not really believe! Perhaps an inadvertent word has descended to posterity. But, in fact, the Paradise Regained is little, if at all, inferior to the Paradise Lost, and is only supposed so to be, because men do not like epics, whatever they may say to the contrary, and reading those of Milton in their natural order, are too much wearied with the first to derive any pleasure from the second.

I dare say Milton preferred Comus to either — if so — justly. * * *

As I am speaking of poetry, it will not be amiss to touch slightly upon the most singular heresy in its modern history — the heresy of what is called very foolishly, the Lake School. Some years ago I might have been induced, by an occasion like the present, to attempt a formal refutation of their doctrine; at present it would be a work of supererogation. The [page 188:] wise must bow to the wisdom of such men as Coleridge and Southey, but being wise, have laughed at poetical theories so prosaically exemplified.

Aristotle, with singular assurance, has declared poetry the most philosophical of all writings; * but it required a Wordsworth to pronounce it the most metaphysical. He seems to think that the end of poetry is, or should be, instruction — yet it is a truism that the end of our existence is happiness; if so, the end of every separate part of our existence — every thing connected with our existence should be still happiness. Therefore the end of instruction should be happiness; and happiness is another name for pleasure; — therefore the end of instruction should be pleasure: yet we see the above mentioned opinion implies precisely the reverse.

To proceed: ceteris paribus, he who pleases, is of more importance to his fellow men than he who instructs, since utility is happiness, and pleasure is the end already obtained which instruction is merely the means of obtaining.

I see no reason, then, why our metaphysical poets should plume themselves so much on the utility of their works, unless indeed they refer to instruction with eternity in view; in which case, sincere respect for their piety would not allow me to express my contempt for their judgment; contempt which it would be difficult to conceal, since their writings are professedly to be understood by the few, and it is the many who stand in need of salvation. In such case I should no doubt be tempted to think of the devil in “Melmoth,” who labors indefatigably through three octavo volumes to accomplish the destruction of one or two souls, while any common devil would have demolished one or two thousand. * * *

Against the subtleties which would make poetry a study — not a passion — it becomes the metaphysician to reason — but the poet to protest. Yet Wordsworth and Coleridge are men in years; the one imbued in contemplation from his childhood, the other a giant in intellect and learning. The diffidence, then, with which I venture to dispute their authority, would be overwhelming, did I not feel, from the bottom of my heart, that learning has little to do with the imagination — intellect with the passions — or age with poetry. * * *

“Trifles, like straws, upon the surface flow,

He who would search for pearls must dive below,”

are lines which have done much mischief. As regards the greater truths, men oftener err by seeking them at the bottom than at the top; the depth [page 189:] lies in the huge abysses where wisdom is sought — not in the palpable places where she is found. The ancients were not always right in hiding the goddess in a well: witness the light which Bacon has thrown upon philosophy; witness the principles of our divine faith — that moral mechanism by which the simplicity of a child may overbalance the wisdom of a man. (*Poetry above all things is a beautiful painting whose tints to minute inspection are confusion worse confounded, but start boldly out to the cursory glance of the connoisseur.)

We see an instance of Coleridge's liability to err, in his “Biographia Literaria “ — professedly his literary life and opinions, but, in fact, a treatise de omni scibili et quibusdam aliis. He goes wrong by reason of his very profundity, and of his error we have a natural type in the contemplation of a star. He who regards it directly and intensely sees, it is true, the star, but it is the star without a ray — while he who surveys it less inquisitively is conscious of all for which the star is useful to us below — its brilliancy and its beauty. * * *

As to Wordsworth, I have no faith in him. That he had, in youth, the feelings of a poet I believe — for there are glimpses of extreme delicacy in his writings — (and delicacy is the poet's own kingdom — his El Dorado) — but they have the appearance of a better day recollected; and glimpses, at best, are little evidence of present poetic fire — we know that a few straggling flowers spring up daily in the crevices of the (†avalanche).

He was to blame in wearing away his youth in contemplation with the end of poetizing in his manhood. With the increase of his judgment the light which should make it apparent has faded away. His judgment consequently is too correct. This may not be understood, — but the old Goths of Germany would have understood it, who used to debate matters of importance to their State twice, once when drunk, and once when sober — sober that they might not be deficient in formality — drunk lest they should be destitute of vigor.

The long wordy discussions by which he tries to reason us into admiration of his poetry, speak very little in his favor: they are full of such assertions as this — (I have opened one of his volumes at random) “Of genius the only proof is the act of doing well what is worthy to be done, and what was never done before” — indeed! then it follows that in doing what is unworthy to be done, or what has been done before, no [page 190:] genius can be evinced; yet the picking of pockets is an unworthy act, pockets have been picked time immemorial, and Barrington, the pickpocket, in point of genius, would have thought hard of a comparison with William Wordsworth, the poet.

Again — in estimating the merit of certain poems, whether they be Ossian's or M’Pherson's, can surely be of little consequence, yet, in order to prove their worthlessness, Mr. W. has expended many pages in the controversy. Tantæne animis? Can great minds descend to such absurdity? But worse still: that he may bear down every argument in favor of these poems, he triumphantly drags forward a passage, in his abomination of which he expects the reader to sympathize. It is the beginning of the epic poem * “Temora.” “The blue waves of Ullin roll in light; the green hills are covered with day; trees shake their dusky heads in the breeze.” And this — this gorgeous, yet simple imagery, where all is alive and panting with immortality — this, William Wordsworth, the author of “Peter Bell,” has selected for his contempt. We shall see what better he in his own person, has to offer. Imprimis:

“And now she's at the pony's head,

And now she's at the pony's tail,

On that side now, and now on this,

And almost stifled her with bliss —

A few sad tears does Betty shed,

She pats the pony where or when

She knows not: happy Betty Foy!

O, Johnny! never mind the Doctor!”


“The dew was falling fast, the — stars began to blink,

I heard a voice; it said — drink, pretty creature, drink;

And, looking o’er the hedge, be — fore me I espied

A snow-white mountain lamb, with a — maiden at its side.

No other sheep were near, the lamb was all alone,

And by a slender cord was — tether’d to a stone.”

Now, we have no doubt this is all true; we will believe it, indeed, we will, Mr. W. Is it sympathy for the sheep you wish to excite? I love a sheep from the bottom of my heart.

But there are occasions, dear B——, there are occasions when even Wordsworth is reasonable. Even Stamboul, it is said, shall have an end [page 191:] and the most unlucky blunders must come to a conclusion. Here is an extract from his preface —

“Those who have been accustomed to the phraseology of modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to a conclusion (impossible!) will, no doubt, have to struggle with feelings of awkwardness; (ha! ha! ha!) they will look round for poetry (ha! ha! ha! ha!) and will be induced to inquire by what species of courtesy these attempts have been permitted to assume that title.” Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

Yet let not Mr. W. despair; he has given immortality to a wagon, and the bee Sophocles has transmitted to eternity a sore toe, and dignified a tragedy with a chorus of turkeys. * * *

Of Coleridge I cannot speak but with reverence. His towering intellect! his gigantic power! 1 (He is one more evidence of the fact) (To use an author quoted by himself, “J’ai trouvé souvent) 2 que la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une bonne partie de ce qu’elles avancent, mais non pas en ce qu’elles nient,” (and to employ his own language,) 3 he has imprisoned his own conceptions by the barrier he has erected against those of others. It is lamentable to think that such a mind should be buried in metaphysics, and, like the Nyctanthes, waste its perfume upon the night alone. In reading [that man's 4] poetry, I tremble, like one who stands upon a volcano, conscious, from the very darkness bursting from the crater, of the fire and the light that are weltering below.

  · · · · · · · · · · · · ·  

What is Poetry? — Poetry! that Proteus-like idea, with as many appellations as the nine-titled Corcyra! Give me, I demanded of a scholar some time ago, give me a definition of poetry. “Très-volontiers,” and he proceeded to his library, brought me a Dr. Johnson, and overwhelmed me with a definition. Shade of the immortal Shakespeare! I imagine to myself the scowl of your spiritual eye upon the profanity of that scurrilous Ursa Major. Think of poetry, dear B——, think of poetry, and then think of — Dr. Samuel Johnson! Think of all that is airy and fairy-like, and then of all that is hideous and unwieldy; think of his huge bulk, the Elephant! and then — and then think of the Tempest — the Midsummer Night's Dream — Prospero — Oberon — and Titania! * * *

A poem, in my opinion, is opposed to a work of science by having, for its immediate object, pleasure, not truth; to romance, by having for its [page 192:] object an indefinite instead of a definite pleasure, being a poem only so far as this object is attained; romance presenting perceptible images with definite, poetry with indefinite sensations, to which end music is an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception. Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry; music without the idea is simply music; the idea without the music is prose from its very definitiveness.

What was meant by the invective against him who had no music in his soul? * * *

To sum up this long rigmarole, I have, dear B——, what you no doubt perceive, for the metaphysical poets, as poets, the most sovereign contempt. That they have followers proves nothing —

The Indian prince has to his palace

More followers than a thief to the gallows.


The Raven / And / Other Poems. / By / Edgar A. Poe. / New York: / Wiley & Putnam, 161 Broadway. / 1845.

Collation: half-title. Wiley And Putnam's / Library Of / AMERICAN BOOKS. / The Raven and Other Poems. Title, p. I; with copyright and imprint on verso, p. II; dedication, p. III; verso blank, p. IV; Preface, p. V; verso, Contents, p. VI. The Raven and Other Poems, pp. 1-51; blank verso, p. 52; half-title, Poems Written In Youth, p. 53; verso blank, p. 54; Poems Written In Youth, pp 55-91. Issued in paper covers. Size 7.50 by 5.25 inches. The same edition was issued by the same firm in London with the imprint 1846.


The American Whig Review, February, 1845; the Evening Mirror, January 29, 1845; Southern Literary Messenger, March, 1845; London Critic, June, 1845; 1845; J. Lorimer Graham copy of 1845 poems; Literary Emporium, 1845; Richmond Examiner, September 25, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

II.   3. sought: tried, all others except 1845.

  6.   here: no italics except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

III.   6.   This: That.   L.E. [page 193:]

V.   3.   stillness: darkness, all others except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

VI.   1.   Back: Then, all others except 1845 and J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

  2.   again I heard: I heard again, all others except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

VII.   3.   minute: instant all others except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

IX.   3.   living human: sublunary.   A. W. R.

  6.   Then the bird said: Quoth the raven.   A. W. R.; E. M.

XI.   1.   Startled: wondering.   A. W. R.

  4.   songs: song.   C.

  4-6.   till ... nevermore: so when Hope he would adjure Stern Despair returned, instead of the sweet Hope he dared adjure.

That sad answer, “Nevermore.”   A. W. R.; E. M.

  5.   That: the, all others except 1845, and J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

  6.   OfNever — Nevermore: of “Nevermore” all others except 1845 and J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

XII.   1.   My sad fancy: all my sad soul, all others; my fancy; J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

XIII.   1.   This: Thus.   C.

XIV.   2.   seraphim whose: angels whose faint, all others except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

  5.   Quaff, oh: Let me.   A. W. R.

XVIII.   1.   still: No italics except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845

  3.   demon's: demon all others except 1845.

Notes: In the Broadway Journal, May 24, 1845, a variant reading of the poem is given as follows: —

“While I pondered nearly napping

Suddenly there came a rapping,

As of some one gently tapping,

Tapping at my chamber door.”

The Shea manuscript recorded elsewhere also gives variant readings, and in the quotations from the poem in Poe's “Philosophy of Composition,” two verbal variations are found — VII. 3. minute for moment and X. 1. that for the.

The above readings of “The Raven” show the poem in eight states. First as sent to the American Whig Review, February, 1845; second as revised in the Evening Mirror, January 29, 1845; third as revised in the Southern Literary Messenger, March, 1845; fourth as revised in the London [page 194:] Critic, June, 1845; fifth as revised in the edition of the 1845 poems; sixth as revised in the J. Lorimer Graham copy of the 1845 poems in Poe's own hand; seventh as revised in the Literary Emporium, 1845; eighth and finally in the Richmond Examiner, September 25, 1849.

Many theories as to the composition of “The Raven” have been published. Dr. William Elliot Griffis, in the Home Journal, November 5, 1884, stated that Poe mentioned “The Raven” and showed a draft of the poem to a contributor to the New York Mirror, in the summer of 1842, at the Barhyte trout Ponds, Saratoga Springs, New York.

Mr. Rosenback in the American, February 26, 1887, claimed that he read “The Raven” long before it was published, and was in George R. Graham's office, when the poem was offered there. Poe said that his wife and Mrs. Clemm were starving, and that he was in pressing need of funds. Fifteen dollars was contributed to Poe as charity, but the poem was not accepted. This date was about the winter of 1843-44.

F. G. Fairfield has an account in Scribner's Magazine, October, 1875, that the poem was written at the Fordham cottage, 1844-45; also that it was a sort of joint stock affair, the stanzas being produced at intervals by Colonel Du Solle, and others.

Poe did not move to Fordham until the spring of 1846.

Colonel J. A. Joyce attributed the poem to “The Parrot,” published in the Milan Art Journal, for 1809, by Leo Penzoni, but failed to give further authenticated data.

The generally accepted theory is that given by Judge George Shea, formerly of the Marine Court of New York. Poe wrote Shea's father the following letter without date: —

“DEAR SHEA, — Lest I should have made some mistake in the hurry I transcribe the whole alteration. Instead of the whole stanza commencing ‘Wondering at the stillness broken &c.’ substitute this:

‘Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore —

Till the dirges of his Hope the melancholy burden bore,

Nevermore — Ah Nevermore.” ’

“At the close of the stanza preceding this, instead of Quoth the raven Nevermore, substitute ‘Then the bird said “Nevermore.”’ — Truly yours, POE.” [page 195:]

This is written on a glazed paper without lines, and on the back “J. Augustus Shea Esq. — to be delivered as soon as he comes in.” The manuscript is now in the library of J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq., of New York City. Judge Shea stated that his father and Poe were cadets together at West Point and close associates; that in later life they were often together, and that Poe consulted his father about the publication of his poems. In this way he committed to Shea the publication anonymously of “The Raven” which appeared in the Whig Review.

The circumstantial evidences, however, do not fully accord with this theory. Poe was well acquainted with the editor of the Whig Review who alluded to the poem as from a correspondent. No good reason appears for Poe sending the poem by Shea. It is in evidence that Poe was a correspondent of the journal, but not Shea. The lines sent to Shea did not appear in the Whig Review. Some of the alterations sent Shea do not appear to have ever been published by Poe. Shea was known to have London literary correspondents, and the text sent him may have had some reference to “The Raven” sent by Poe to the London Critic in June, 1845. In the Broadway Journal of August 23, 1845, Poe made the following notice of Shea's death:

“We note with regret the death of James Augustus Shea, Esq., a native of Ireland, for many years a citizen of the United States, and a resident of this city. He died on Friday morning, the 17th inst. at the early age of 42. As a poet his reputation was high — but by no means as high as his deserts. His ‘Ocean’ is really one of the most spirited lyrics ever published. Its rhythm strikingly resembles ‘The Bridge of Sighs.’”

F. W. Thomas's Recollections of E. A. Poe states that Poe informed him that “The Raven” was written in one day; that in having it appear anonymously he had merely followed a whim like Coleridge, who published his “Raven” in the same way. Thomas further stated that Poe was constantly urged by himself and others to revise the lines in the poem referring to the “shadow on the floor” and “seraphin whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.” To criticisms of the former he claimed a conception of the bracket candelabrum affixed high up against the wall, while he argued for the latter that his idea was good and came from Isaiah iii. 16: “The daughters of Zion making a tinkling with their feet.”

For Poe's commentary on “The Raven,” see his “Philosophy of Composition.” The text of “The Raven” given in editions of Poe's poems since Griswold's time as revised by Poe for the Broadway Journal, February 8, 1845, is an error. Poe at that time was employed on the Mirror, and [page 196:] in a letter to Thomas dated May 4, 1845, said: “I send you an early number of the Broadway Journal, containing my ‘Raven.’ It was copied by Briggs, my associate, before I joined the paper. ‘The Raven’ had a great ‘run,’ Thomas — but I wrote it for the express purpose of running — just as I did the ‘Gold Bug,’ you know. The bird beat the bug though, all hollow.” The supposition also advanced that the Mirror text of the poem followed that of the Whig Review is also an error. The Mirror text, as will be seen here, was considerably revised by Poe.

The Thomas Recollections state that Poe made up the Literary Emporium volume, which was further confirmed by printers who worked on the book. Poe himself said about this period that he would devote his time, “getting out books.” The poem in that volume is in all probabilities the text of “The Raven,” seen in proof with Poe while on the Broadway Journal by the office boy Alexander T. Crane, whose recollections have been published. Thomas also states that Poe made repeated efforts to have his poems appear in London during the year 1845. He did succeed in having some notices of his journal and “The Raven” appear in the London Critic.


American Whig Review, February, 1845: The following lines from a correspondent — besides the deep quaint strain of the sentiment, and the curious introduction of some ludicrous touches amidst the serious and impressive, as was doubtless intended by the author — appear to us one of the most felicitous specimens of unique rhyming which has for some time met our eye. The resources of English rhythm for varieties of melody, measure, and sound, producing corresponding diversities of effect, have been thoroughly studied, much more perceived, by very few poets in the language. While the classic tongues, especially the Greek, possess, by power of accent, several advantages for versification over our own, chiefly through greater abundance of spondaic feet, we have other and very great advantages of sound by the modern usage of rhyme. Alliteration is nearly the only effect of that kind which the ancients had in common with us. It will be seen that much of the melody of “The Raven” arises from alliteration, and the studious use of similar sounds in unusual places. In regard to its measure, it may be noted that, if all the verses were like the second, they might properly be placed merely in short lines, producing a not uncommon form; but the presence in all the others of one line — [page 197:] mostly the second in the verse — which flows continuously, with only an aspirate pause in the middle, like that before the short line in the Sapphic Adonic, while the fifth has at the middle pause no similarity of sound with any part beside, gives the versification an entirely different effect. We could wish the capacities of our noble language, in prosody, were better understood. — ED. AM. REV.

Evening Mirror, January 29, 1845: We are permitted to copy (in advance of publication) from the second number of The American Review, the following remarkable poem by Edgar Poe. In our opinion, it is the most effective single example of “fugitive poetry” ever published in this country; and unsurpassed in English poetry for subtile conception, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent sustaining of imaginative lift and “pokerishness.” It is one of those “dainties bred in a book,” which we feed on. It will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it.

Southern Literary Messenger, March, 1845: Mr. Brooks, editor of the New York Express, says: “There is a poem in this book (The American Whig Review) which far surpasses anything that has been done even by the best poets of the age: — indeed there are none of them who could pretend to enter into competition with it, except, perhaps, Alfred Tennyson; and he only to be excelled out of measure. Nothing can be conceived more effective than the settled melancholy of the poet bordering upon sullen despair in the Raven settling over the poet's door, to depart thence ‘Nevermore.’ In power and originality of versification the whole is no less remarkable than it is, psychologically, a wonder.”

Richmond Examiner, September 25, 1849: Mr. Edgar A. Poe lectured again last night on the “Poetic Principle” and concluded his lecture as before with his now celebrated poem of “The Raven.” As the attention of many in this city is now directed to this singular performance, and as Mr. Poe's poems from which only it is to be obtained in the bookstores, have been long out of print, we furnish our readers, to-day, with the only correct copy ever published — which we are enabled to do by the courtesy of Mr. Poe himself. “The Raven” has taken rank over the whole world of literature, as the very first poem as yet produced on the American continent. There is indeed but one other, the “Humble Bee” of Ralph Waldo Emerson, which can be ranked near it. The latter is superior to it as a work of construction and design while the former is superior to the latter as a work of pure art. They hold the same relation, the one to the other, that a masterpiece of painting holds to a splendid piece of Mosaic. But while this poem maintains a rank so high among all persons [page 198:] of catholic and general cultivated taste, we can conceive the wrath of many who will read it for the first time in the columns of this newspaper. Those who have formed their taste in the Pope and Dryden school, whose earliest poetical acquaintance is Milton, and whose latest Hamlet and Cowper — with a small sprinkling of Moore and Byron — will not be apt to relish on first sight a poem tinged so deeply with the dyes of the Nineteenth Century. The poem will make an impression on them which they will not be able to explain, — but that will irritate them, — criticism and explanation are useless with such. Criticism cannot reason people into an attachment. In spite of our plans, such will talk of the gaudiness of Keats and craziness of Shelley, until they see deep enough into their claims to forget or be ashamed to talk so. Such will angrily pronounce “The Raven” flat nonsense. Another class will be disgusted therewith because they can see no purpose, no allegory, no meaning as they express it in the poem. These people — and they constitute the majority of our practical race — are possessed with a false theory. They hold that every poem and poet should have some moral notion or other, which it is his “mission” to expound. That theory is all false. To build theories, principles, religions, etc., is the business of the argumentative, not of the poetic faculty. The business of poetry is to minister to the sense of the beautiful in human minds. — That sense is a simple element in our nature — simple, not compound; and therefore the art which ministers to it may safely be said to have an ultimate end in so ministering. This “The Raven” does in an eminent degree. It has no allegory in it, no purpose — or a very slight one — but it is a “thing of beauty” and will be a “joy forever” for that and no further reason. In the last stanza is an image of settled despair and despondency, which throws a gleam of meaning and allegory over the entire poem — making it all a personification of that passion — but that stanza is evidently an afterthought, and unconnected with the original poem. “The Raven” itself is a mere narrative of simple events. A bird which has been taught to speak by some former master is lost in a stormy night, is attracted by the light of a student's window, flies to it and flutters against it. Then against the door. The student fancies it a visitor, opens the door and the chance word uttered by the bird suggests to him memories and fancies connected with his own situation and his dead sweetheart or wife. Such is the poem. The last stanza is an afterthought. The worth of “The Raven” is not in any “moral,” nor is its charm in the construction of its story. Its great and wonderful merits consist in the strange, beautiful, and fantastic imagery [page 199:] and color with which the simple subject is clothed, the grave and supernatural tone with which it rolls on the ear, the extraordinary vividness of the word-painting, and the powerful but altogether indefinable appeal which is made throughout to the organs of ideality and marvellousness. Added to these is a versification indescribably sweet and wonderfully difficult — winding and convoluted about like the mazes of some complicated overtures of Beethoven. To all who have a strong perception of tune there is a music in it which haunts the ear long after reading. These are great merits, and “The Raven” is a gem of art. It is stamped with the image of true genius — and genius in its happiest hour. It is one of those things an author never does but once.

NOTE. — It is known that Poe discussed the merits of “The Raven” with John M. Daniel, the author of the above, and some portions may have been inspired by him. This notice of the poem was found among Poe's clippings after his death, and is now among the “Griswold Papers.”


American Whig Review, April, 1845; 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 9; “The Valley Nis,” 1831; Southern Literary Messenger, February, 1836.

Text, 1845.

Variations from the text:

  18.   rustle: rustles.   A. W. R.

  19.   Uneasily: Unceasingly.   A. W. R.; B. J.

After 27 insert: —

They wave; they weep; and the tears as they well

From the depth of each pallid lily-bell,

Give a trickle and a tinkle and a knell. A. W. R.

The earliest (1831) version runs as follows: The Southern Literary Messenger reading is noted below: —


Far away — far away —

Far away — as far at least

Lies that valley as the day

Down within the golden east —

All things lovely — are not they


Far away — far away? [page 200:]

It is called the valley Nis.

And a Syriac tale there is

Thereabout which Time hath said

Shall not be interpreted.

Something about Satan's dart —

Something about angel wings —

Much about a broken heart —

All about unhappy things:

But “the valley Nis” at best

Means “the valley of unrest.”

Once it smil’d a silent dell

Where the people did not dwell,

Having gone unto the wars —

And the sly, mysterious stars,

With a visage full of meaning,

O’er the unguarded flowers were leaning:


Or the sun ray dripp’d all red

Thro’ the tulips overhead,

Then grew paler as it fell


On the quiet Asphodel.

Now the unhappy shall confess

Nothing there is motionless:

Helen, like thy human eye

There th’ uneasy violets lie —

There the reedy grass doth wave

Over the old forgotten grave —

One by one from the tree top

There the eternal dews do drop —

There the vague and dreamy trees

Do roll like seas in northern breeze

Around the stormy Hebrides —

There the gorgeous clouds do fly,

Rustling everlastingly,

Through the terror-stricken sky,

Rolling like a waterfall

O’er the horizon's fiery wall —

There the moon doth shine by night

With a most unsteady light — [page 201:]

There the sun doth reel by day

“Over the hills and far away.”

         6.   Far away: One and all, too.

       24.   the: tall.

  27-46.   Now each visiter shall confess

Nothing there is motionless:

Nothing save the airs that brood

O’er the enchanted solitude,

Save the airs with pinions furled

That slumber o’er the valley-world.

No wind in Heaven, and lo! the trees

Do roll like seas, in Northern breeze,

Around the stormy Hebrides —

No wind in Heaven, and clouds do fly,

Rustling everlastingly,

Through the terror-stricken sky,

Rolling, like a waterfall

O’er th’ horizon's fiery wall —

And Helen, like thy human eye,

Low crouched on Earth, some violets lie,

And, nearer Heaven, some lilies wave

All banner-like, above a grave.

And, one by one, from out their tops

Eternal dews come down in drops,

Ah, one by one, from off their stems

Eternal dews come down in gems!


Southern Literary Messenger, January, 1837, (Ballad); Philadelphia, Saturday Evening Post, July 31, 1841; Philadelphia, Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843, (Song of The Newly Wedded); 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 4; Richmond Examiner, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

I.   3. Insert after: —

And many a rood of land. S. L. M. [page 202:]

II.   1.   He has loved me long and well.   S. L. M.

  2.   But: And: first, omit.   S. L. M.

  4.   as: like.   B. J.; S. M.

rang as a knell: were his who fell.   S. L. M. rang like a knell.   B. J.

  5.   Omit.   S. L. M.

III. 1.   But: And.   S. L. M.

  3.   While: But.   S. L. M.

  6.   Omit.   S. L. M. Parenthesis omitted all others, except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

  7.   Insert after: —

And thus they said I plighted

An irrevocable vow —

And my friends are all delighted

That his love I have requited —

And my mind is much benighted

If I am not happy now!

Lo! the ring is on my hand,

And the wreath is on my brow —

Satins and jewels grand,

And many a rood of land,

Are all at my command,

And I must be happy now!   S. L. M.

IV.   1-2.   I have spoken, I have spoken,

They have registered the vow.   S. L. M.

It was spoken — it was spoken —

Quick they registered the vow.   S. E. P.

  5-6.   Here is a ring as token

That I am happy now.   Omit all others, except J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

V.   5.   Lest: And.   S. L. M.

Note: The addition of the two new lines in the fourth stanza of this poem shows the interesting way in which Poe derived his very characteristic varied repetend by doubling up two previous variant readings. The following from the Southern Literary Messenger, August, 1835, might well be read in connection with this poem. Authorities are of the opinion that it may have been the first draft of the poem. This might also apply to “Lenore.” [page 203:]

The subjoined copy of an old Scotch ballad contains so much of the beauty and genuine spirit of bygone poetry that I have determined to risk a frown from the fair lady by whom the copy was furnished in submitting it for publication. The ladies sometimes violate their promises — may I not for once assume the privilege, in presenting to the readers of the Messenger this “legend of the olden time,” although I promised not? Relying on the kind heart of the lady for forgiveness for this breach of promise, I have anticipated the pardon in sending you the lines which I have never as yet seen in print: —


“They have giv’n her to another —

They have sever’d ev’ry vow;

They have giv’n her to another

And my heart is lonely now;

They remember’d not our parting —

They remember’d not our tears,

They have sever’d in one fatal hour

The tenderness of years.

Oh! was it weel to leave me?

Thou couldst not so deceive me;

Lang and sairly shall I grieve thee,

Lost, lost Rosabel!

“They have giv’n thee to another —

Thou art now his gentle bride;

Had I lov’d thee as a brother,

I might see thee by his side;

But I know with gold they won thee

And thy trusting heart beguil’d;

Thy mother, too, did shun me,

For she knew I lov’d her child.

Oh! was it weel, etc.

“They have giv’n her to another —

She will love him, so they say;

If her mem’ry do not chide her,

Or, perhaps, perhaps she may;

But I know that she hath spoken [page 204:]

What she never can forget;

And tho’ my poor heart be broken,

It will love her, love her yet.

Oh! was it weel, etc.”


“The Poets and Poetry of America,” 1842; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; 1845; Broadway Journal, I. 18; 1831, Title Irene: Poe MS. Irene The Dead; Southern Literary Messenger, May, 1836, Irene; Richmond Examiner, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

  11.   fog: mist.   P. P. A.

  16.   Insert after: —

Her casement open to the skies.   S. M.; 1845; B. J.;   Her: with   P. P. A.

  17. Irene with: And.   P. P. A.

  19.   WINDOW [[window]]: lattice.   S. M.

  20-21.   Omit.   S. M.; P. P. A.

  35.   Stranger thy glorious length of tress.   P. P. A.

  39-47.   Soft may the worms about her creep!

This bed, being changed for one more holy,

This room for one more melancholy

I pray to God that she may lie

Forever with uncloséd eye!

My love she sleeps, O, may her sleep

As it is lasting so be deep!

Heaven have her in its sacred keep!   P. P. A.

  44.   pale: dim.   S. M.; 1845; B. J.

  49.   vault: tomb.   P. P. A.

  50.   vault: tomb.   P. P. A.

  57.   tomb: vault.   P. P. A.

  59.   thrilling: nor thrill. P. P. A.

The (1831) earliest version reads as follows: —



’T is now (so sings the soaring moon)

Midnight in the sweet month of June, [page 205:]


When winged visions love to lie

Lazily upon beauty's eye,

Or worse — upon her brow to dance

In panoply of old romance,

Till thoughts and locks are left, alas!

A ne’er-to-be untangled mass.

An influence dewy, drowsy, dim,


Is dripping from that golden rim;

Grey towers are mouldering into rest,

Wrapping the fog around their breast:

Looking like Lethe, see! the lake

A conscious slumber seems to take,

And would not for the world awake:

The rosemary sleeps upon the grave —

The lily lolls upon the wave —


And million bright pines to and fro,

Are rocking lullabies as they go,


To the lone oak that reels with bliss,


Nodding above the dim abyss.

All beauty sleeps: and lo! where lies


With casement open to the skies,

Irene, with her destinies!


Thus hums the moon within her ear,

“O lady sweet! how camest thou here?

“Strange are thine eyelids — strange thy dress!

“And strange thy glorious length of tress!

“Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,

“A wonder to our desert trees!

“Some gentle wind hath thought it right

“To open thy window to the night,

“And wanton airs from the tree-top,

“Laughingly thro’ the lattice drop,


“And wave this crimson canopy,


“Like a banner o’er thy dreaming eye!


“Lady, awake! lady awake!

“For the holy Jesus’ sake!


“For strangely — fearfully in this hall


“My tinted shadows rise and fall!” [page 206:]

The lady sleeps: the dead all sleep —

At least as long as Love doth weep:

Entranc’d, the spirit loves to lie

As long as — tears on Memory's eye:

But when a week or two go by,

And the light laughter chokes the sigh,

Indignant from the tomb doth take


Its way to some remember’d lake,


Where oft — in life — with friends — it went

To bathe in the pure element,

And there, from the untrodden grass,

Wreathing for its transparent brow

Those flowers that say (ah hear them now!)

To the night-winds as they pass,

“Ai! ai! alas! — alas!”

Pores for a moment, ere it go,

On the clear waters there that flow,

Then sinks within (weigh’d down by wo)

Th’ uncertain, shadowy heaven below.

· · · · · · · ·

The lady sleeps: oh! may her sleep

As it is lasting so be deep —

No icy worms about her creep:

I pray to God that she may lie

Forever with as calm an eye,

That chamber chang’d for one more holy —

That bed for one more melancholy.

Far in the forest, dim and old,

For her may some tall vault unfold,

Against whose sounding door she hath thrown,

In childhood, many an idle stone —

Some tomb, which oft hath flung its black


And vampyre-winged pannels back,

Flutt’ring triumphant o’er the palls

Of her old family funerals.

Variations from the above:

  1-2.   I stand beneath the soaring moon

At midnight in the month of June.   S. L. M.; MS. [page 207:]

  3-8.   omit   S. L. M.; 10. that: yon.   S. L. M.; her MS.; 18. bright pines: cedars.   S. L. M.; 20. reels with bliss, nodding hangs.   S. L. M.; 21. Above yon cataract of Serangs.   S. L. M.

  23-24.   With: her; transpose, MS.; 25 substitute: —

And hark the sounds so low yet clear,

(Like music of another sphere)

Which steal within the slumberer's ear,

Or so appear — or so appear!   S. L. M.

  35.   Insert: —

“So fitfully, so fearfully.   S. L. M.

  36.   Like: As.   S. L. M.; 37   substitute: —

“That o’er the floor, and down the wall,

“Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall —

“Then, for thine own all radiant sake,

“Lady, awake! awake! awake!”   S. L. M.; MS.

  37.   That o’er the floor: thro’ the floors.   MS.

  39.   All radiant: beloved.   MS.

  40.   Awake! Awake: Lady awake.   MS.

  40-58.   Omit.   S. L. M.

  48.   Some remember’d like: Heaven and sorrows forsake.   MS.

  49-59.   Omit   MS.

  72.   Winged: Wing-like.   S. L. M.; MS.

Note: In a letter to R. W. Griswold dated April 19, 1845, Poe states, “In ‘The Sleeper’ the line Forever with uncloséd eye, should read: ‘Forever with unopen’d eye.’

“Is it possible to make the alteration?” This was never corrected by Griswold.

Poe's manuscript of this poem written in the album of his poet friend, John C. McCabe, is now in the possession of Captain W. Gordon McCabe of Richmond, Virginia. It is headed “Irene the Dead” and signed E. A. Poe. The handwriting is approximately the same as that in the manuscript of the “Spiritual Song.”


The Baltimore Saturday Morning Visitor [[Visiter]], 1833; Southern Literary Messenger, title (The Coliseum, A Prize Poem), August, 1835; Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, June 12, 1841, with subtitle (A Prize Poem); “The Poets and Poetry of America,” 1842, title (Coliseum); [page 208:] Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 1.

Text, 1845.

Variations from the text:

  1.   The: Omit.   S. M. V.

  8.   Thy: the. So drink: the dank.   S. M. V.

  Amid: Within.   P. P. A.

  11.   Insert after: —

Gaunt vestibules! and phantom peopled aisles!   S. L. M.

  20.   Gilded: yellow.   S. L. M.

  21.   Insert after: —

Here, where on ivory couch the Cæsar sate,

On bed of moss lies gloating the foul adder.   S. L. M.

  22.   Monarch lolled: Cæsar sate.   P. P. A.

  23-24.   On bed of moss lies gloating the foul adder!

Here where on ivory couch the Monarch loll’d.   P. P. A.

  26.   But stay — these: These crumbling; ivy clad: tottering.   S. L. M.;

But hold! — these dark, these perishing arcades.”   P. P. A.

  28.   Crumbling: broken.   S. L. M.; P. P. A.

  31.   Famed: Great.   S. L. M.; proud. P. P. A.

  35.   Unto: to.   P. P. A.

  36.   Melody: in old days.   S. L. M.

  39.   Impotent: desolate.   S. L. M.

  34.   To end, except after glory, 1. 46, omit quotation marks.   S. L. M.

Note: This was the poem offered for the prize in the Baltimore Saturday Morning Visitor [[Visiter]].

The first nine lines of the poem are printed in The Bibliophile, of London, England, for May, 1909, from a fragment of a Poe MS. The only variation is, “stands” for “kneel” in the seventh line. It is stated there that no proof exists that the poem was published earlier than August, 1835, when it was issued in the Southern Literary Messenger. A copy of the first text from the Baltimore Saturday Morning Visitor [[Visiter]] is now in our possession from Professor J. H. Hewett [[Hewitt]], who was the editor, and received the prize for the competing poem. The variant readings of same are given here for the first time.

The MS. in The Bibliophile is evidently a portion of the MS. of “Politian” — which ended with some of the lines from this poem. [page 209:]


The Pioneer, February, 1843; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; Graham's Magazine, February, 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 6, “A Pæan,” 1831; Southern Literary Messenger, January, 1836; Richmond Whig, September 18, 1849; Richmond Examiner, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Whig.

Variations from the text:

I.   5.   Come: Ah.   G. M.

II.   1.   And ye: ye out all others.

  3.   Shall: no italics.   G. M.

III.   1.   Yet: but; but: and   all others.

  3.   Gone before: quotation marks all others.

  5.   Debonnaire: Italics all others.

IV.   1.   to friends, from fiends: from fiends below.   J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

  2.   Utmost: out all others

  3.   Moan: Grief.   J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

  4.   no: no italics.   J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

  6.   no: No all others.

The earliest version, 1831, is as follows: the readings of the Southern Literary Messenger being noted below: —



How shall the burial rite be read?

The solemn song be sung?

The requiem for the loveliest dead,

That ever died so young?


Her friends are gazing on her,

And on her gaudy bier,

And weep! — oh! to dishonor


Dead beauty with a tear! [page 210:]


They loved her for her wealth —

And they hated her for her pride —

But she grew in feeble health,

And they love her — that she died.


They tell me (while they speak

Of her “costly broider’d pall”)

That my voice is growing weak —

That I should not sing at all —


Or that my tone should be

Tun’d to such solemn song

So mournfully — so mournfully,

That the dead may feel no wrong.


But she is gone above,

With young Hope at her side,

And I am drunk with love

Of the dead, who is my bride.



Of the dead — dead who lies


All perfum’d there,

With the death upon her eyes,


And the life upon her hair.


Thus on the coffin loud and long

I strike — the murmur sent

Through the gray chambers to my song,

Shall be the accompaniment.



Thou died'st in thy life's June —

But thou didst not die too fair: [page 211:]


Thou didst not die too soon,

Nor with too calm an air.


From more than fiends on earth,


Thy life and love are riven,


To join the untainted mirth

Of more than thrones in heaven —


Therefore, to thee this night

I will no requiem raise,

But waft thee on thy flight

With a Pæan of old days.

II.   4.   Dead: Her.

VII.   1.   dead who: dead — who.

  2.   perfum’d there: motionless.

  4.   her hair: each tress.

VIII.   Omit.

IX.   1-2. In June she died: in June

Of life — beloved and fair.

  3.   Thou didst: But she did.

X.   [[2]]   Thy life and love are: Helen, thy soul is.

  3.   untainted: all-hallowed.

The Pioneer version, 1843, is as follows: the Saturday Museum text is made up of two lines less and the readings are noted below: —


Ah, broken is the golden bowl!

The spirit flown forever!

Let the bell toll! — A saintly soul


Glides down the Stygian river!

And let the burial rite be read —

The funeral song be sung —

A dirge for the most lovely dead

That ever died so young!

And, Guy De Vere, [page 212:]

Hast thou no tear?

Weep now or nevermore!

See, on yon drear

And rigid bier,

Low lies thy love Lenore!

“Yon heir, whose cheeks of pallid hue.

With tears are streaming wet,

Sees only; through

Their crocodile dew,

A vacant coronet —

False friends! ye loved her for her wealth

And hated her for pride,

And, when she fell in feeble health,

Ye blessed her — that she died,

How shall the ritual, then, be read?


The requiem how be sung

For her most wrong’d of all the dead

That ever died so young?”


But rave not thus!

And let the solemn song

Go up to God so mournfully that she may feel no wrong!

The sweet Lenore

Hath “gone before”

With young hope at her side,

And thou art wild

For the dear child

That should have been thy bride —

For her, the fair

And debonair,

That now so lowly lies —

The life still there

Upon her hair,

The death upon her eyes.

“Avaunt! — to-night

My heart is light — [page 213:]

No dirge will I upraise,

But waft the angel on her flight

With a Pæan of old days!

Let no bell toll!

Lest her sweet soul,

Amid its hallow’d mirth,

Should catch the note

As it doth float

Up from the damnéd earth —

To friends above, from fiends below,

Th’ indignant ghost is riven —

From grief and moan

To a gold throne

Beside the King of Heaven!”

I.   4. Glides down: Floats on.

II.   11. how: no italics.

Other readings are: —


“Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise.

“But waft the angel on her flight with a pæan of old days!

“Let no bell toll! — lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,

“Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damnéd Earth.

“To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven —

“From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven —


“From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven.” — 1845. G. M.; B. J.

  7. Grief: moan.   B. J.; G. M.

Notes: The Richmond Examiner text follows the text with slight punctuation changes. In that newspaper was published October 12, 1849, a statement from Poe made to J. M. Daniel, that Mrs. Shelton to whom he was betrothed was “his ideal and the original of Lenore.”

In a review of Amelia Welby's poem in the Democratic Review, of December, 1844, Poe said: “Her tone is not so much the tone of passion, as of a gentle and melancholy regret, interwoven with a pleasant sense of the natural loveliness surrounding the lost in the tomb, and a memory of her beauty while alive — Elegiac poems should either assume this character, or dwell purely on the beauty (moral or physical) of the departed, or better [page 214:] still, utter the note of triumph. I have endeavored to carry out this latter idea in some verses which I have called ‘Lenore.’”

In his criticism on H. B. Hirst, in Griswold, 1850, Poe quotes the last three lines of the second stanza of “Lenore,” and states that it was first published in 1830. The first known version was one year later. The manuscript in Poe's autograph of this criticism was among the papers of the late E. C. Sledman. Poe sent it to Graham's Magazine, but it was not published.

In his “Marginalia” in the Southern Literary Messenger, May, 1849. Poe quotes the first two lines of stanza four of “Lenore” and uses the “1845” text, which would indicate that his final revision of the poem was made late in that year.

In a letter to R. W. Griswold, no date (1849), Poe enclosed a copy of “Lenore” for a new edition of “The Poets and Poetry of America,” and stated, “I would prefer the concluding stanza to run as here written.” The J. Lorimer Graham edition of 1845 with corrections in Poe's hand was also in Griswold's possession, and while he used some slight changes in the volume he allowed this poem to stand unrevised. The text of stanza four of the poem is largely a reconstruction of the elements in the Broadway Journal version of that stanza.


Poe M.S. [Morella] about 1832-33; Southern Literary Messenger, April, 1835 [Morella]; Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, November, 1839 [Morella]; “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque,” 1840 [Morella]; 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 6.

Text, 1845.

Variations from the text:

Insert before [[1]]: —

Sancta Maria! turn thine eyes

Upon the sinner's sacrifice

Of fervent prayer, and humble love,

From thy holy throne above.   S. L. M.; MS.; B. G. M.; except 2, the: a.   B. G. M., 1840.

5.   the: my; brightly; gently.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.; MS. 6.   not a cloud obscured: no storms were in.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.; MS. 8.   grace: love.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.; MS. 9.   storms: clouds.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.; MS. 10.   Darkly: All.   S. L. M.; B. G. M. [page 215:]

Note: Poe struck out the word “Catholic” from the title of this poem in the J. Lorimer Graham copy of the 1845 poems.


1831; Southern Literary Messenger, August, 1836; Graham's Magazine, October, 1841; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 3. Richmond Examiner, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

II.   6. Transpose with   B. G. M.

III.   4. Owing to: due unto.   G. M.

  6.   The: That. Wire: Lyre.   G. M.

  7.   Of: With.   G. M.

IV.   1. Skies: Heavens.   G. M.

  3.   Grown up: Grown. Loves: Love is.   G. M. Where: And.   S. M.; B. J.

  4.   Where: And.   S. M.; B. J.

  6.   Insert after: —

The more lovely, the more far!   G. M.

V.   1.   Thou art not, therefore.   S. M.; B. J; G. M.

VIII.   1. Could: did.   G. M.

  4.   So wildly: one half so.   G. M.

  5.   One half so passionately.   G. M.

Note: In the Broadway Journal, Poe's quotation in the footnote is attributed to Sales Koran. In Graham's Magazine, it reads “And the angel Israfel, or Israfeli whose heart-strings are a lute, and who is the most musical of all God's creatures,” Koran.

The 1831 version reads as follows: —



In Heaven a spirit doth dwell

Whose heart-strings are a lute —

None sing so wild — so well

As the angel Israfel —

And the giddy stars are mute. [page 216:]


Tottering above

In her highest noon

The enamoured moon

Blushes with love —

While, to listen, the red levin

Pauses in Heaven.


And they say (the starry choir

And all the listening things)

That Israfeli's fire

Is owing to that lyre

With those unusual strings.


But the Heavens that angel trod

Where deep thoughts are a duty —

Where Love is a grown god —

Where Houri glances are —


Stay! turn thine eyes afar! —

Imbued with all the beauty —


Which we worship in yon star. —


Thou art not, therefore, wrong

Israfeli, who despisest

An unimpassion’d song:

To thee the laurels belong

Best bard, — because the wisest.


The extacies above

With thy burning measures suit

Thy grief — if any — thy love

With the fervor of thy lute —

Well may the stars be mute! [page 217:]


Yes, Heaven is thine: but this

Is a world of sweets and sours:

Our flowers are merely — flowers,

And the shadow of thy bliss

Is the sunshine of ours.


If I did dwell where Israfel

Hath dwelt, and he where I,

He would not sing one half as well —


One half as passionately,


While a stormier note than this would swell

From my lyre within the sky.

Variations of Southern Literary Messenger from above: —

IV.   5. Omit. 7. yon: a; VIII. 4. So: As; 5. While a stormier: And a loftier.


Graham's Magazine, June, 1844; 1845; Broadway Journal, I. 26; Richmond Examiner, October 29, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

12.   dews: tears.   J. Lorimer Graham, 1845.

20.   Insert after 1-6. except 5, read my home for these lands and 6.   this for an.   G. M.

25.   Mountain.   G. M.; B. J.

38.   earth: worms   G. M.; B. J.

Insert after 1-6. except 5, read journeyed home for reached these lands and 6. this for an.   G. M.

42.   O! it is: ’T is — oh, ’t is, all others.

47.   Its: the.   G. M.; B. J.

50.   Beholds: Beyond.   E.

Note: Poe used lines nine to twelve of this poem with slight variations in his early poem on “Fairy-Land.” [page 218:]


Southern Literary Messenger, January, 1837; Poe MS., 1840; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 2.

Text, 1845.

Note: The germ of this poem like others may be found in Poe's early composition. See “Al Aaraaf,” Part I.

“From struggling with the waters of the Rhone: —

And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante!

Isola d’oro! — Fior di Levante!”

The MS. of this poem has an interesting history. The original owner was one of Poe's editors who gave his own recollections of Poe, but for some reason failed to mention this incident.

R. H. Stoddard made a request of Poe for his autograph, and in a letter dated Philadelphia, November 6, 1840, Poe expressed himself as much gratified at the request, “and now hasten to comply by transcribing a sonnet of my own composition.” The letter and manuscript of the poem were included in a sale of Mr. Stoddard's books by the late E. C. Stedman, his executor, who related the incident as above.

The text of the MS. poem only varies from others in the omission of italics and a few punctuation changes.


American Whig Review (sub-title, “A Prophecy”), April, 1845; 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 8. “The Doomed City,”1831; “The City of Sin,” Southern Literary Messenger, August, 1836.

Text, 1845.

Variations from the text:

3.   Far off in a region unblest.   A. W. R.

4.   And: where.   S. L. M.

14-19.   Omit.   S. L. M.

20.   No holy rays from heaven come down. S. L. M.

22.   But light from out the lurid sea. S. L. M.

25.   Around the mournful waters lie. A. W. R.

28-35.   Omit   A. W. R.

36.   For no: No murmuring, A. W. R.

39.   Some: a.   A. W. R.

41.   Seas less hideously: oceans not so bad. A. W. R. [page 219:]

The 1831 version reads as follows: —


Lo! Death hath rear’d himself a throne

In a strange city, all alone,

Far down within the dim west —

And the good, and the bad, and the worst, and the best,

Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines and palaces and towers

Are — not like anything of ours —

O! no — O! no — ours never loom

To heaven with that ungodly gloom!

Time-eaten towers that tremble not!

Around, by lifting winds forgot,

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters lie.

A heaven that God doth not contemn

With stars is like a diadem —

We liken our ladies’ eyes to them —

But there! That everlasting pall!

It would be mockery to call

Such dreariness a heaven at all.

Yet tho’ no holy rays come down

On the long night-time of that town,

Light from the lurid, deep sea

Streams up the turrets silently —

Up thrones — up long-forgotten bowers

Of sculptur’d ivy and stone flowers —

Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —

Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —

Up many a melancholy shrine

Whose entablatures intertwine

The mask — the viol — and the vine,

There open temples — open graves

Are on a level with the waves —

But not the riches there that lie

In each idol's diamond eye, [page 220:]

Not the gayly-jewell’d dead

Tempt the waters from their bed:

For no ripples curl, alas!

Along that wilderness of glass —

No swellings hint that winds may be

Upon a far-off happier sea:

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in air,

While from the high towers of the town

Death looks gigantically down.

But lo! a stir is in the air!

The wave! there is a ripple there!

As if the towers had thrown aside,

In slightly sinking, the dull tide —

As if the turret-tops had given

A vacuum in the filmy heaven:

The waves have now a redder glow —

The very hours are breathing low —

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence,

Hell rising from a thousand thrones

Shall do it reverence,

And Death to some more happy clime

Shall give his undivided time.

Note: The earliest form of this poem is found in the first thirty-nine lines of “Al Aaraaf,” Part II, with note “O, the Wave.”


Southern Literary Messenger, “The Visionary,” July, 1835; Broadway Journal, I. 19, I. 23, “The Assignation ”; “To Ianthe in Heaven,” Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, July, 1839; Tales, “The Visionary,” 1840; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; 1845; Godey's Lady's Book,”The Visionary,” January, 1834.

Text, J. Lorimer Graham copy 1845.

Variations from the text:

I.   1.   That all: all that, all others.

  5.   With fairy fruits and: round with wild.   Go. around about with.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840. [page 221:]

  6.   All the flowers: the flowers — they all.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840.

II.   1.   But the dream — it could not last.   Go.; S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840.

  2.   Young Hope! thou didst arise. Go. And the star of Hope did rise.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840. Ah: Oh. S. M.

  5.   “On! on” — but: “Onward.”   Go.; S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840; B. J. but: while. Go.; S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840.

III.   2.   Ambition — all — is o’er.   Go.; S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840.

  4.   Solemn: breaking.   Go.

IV.   1.   Days: hours.   Go.; S. L. M.; B. G. M.; 1840.   And: now.   B. J.

  3.   Grey: dark, all others.

  5-6. In the maze of flashing dances

By the slow Italian streams. Go.

  6.   Eternal: Italian.   Go.; S. L. M.; 1840; B. J. What: far. Go.

Insert after: —

Alas! for that accursed time

They bore thee o’er the billow,

From Love to titled age and crime

And an unholy pillow —

From me, and from our misty clime

Where weeps the silver willow. S. L. M.; 1840; Go. except: —

  3.   Love: me.

  5.   me: Love.

The Literary World of February 5, 1853, reprinted from the London Spectator, January 1, 1853, a manuscript version of this poem. The correspondent had supposed the lines to be by Tennyson, and charged Poe with plagiarism. Tennyson wrote to the Spectator, January 20, 1853, correcting the statement. The text of the manuscript follows the Southern Literary Messenger, except: —

I.   1.   That: Omit.

II.   2.   And the star of life did rise.

  3.   But: only.

III. 1-5.

Like the murmur of the solemn sea

To sands on the sea-shore

A voice is whispering unto me

“The day is past,” and nevermore.

IV.   1.   And all mine hours.

  2.   Nightly: nights are. [page 222:]

  3.   Are: of.


In the maze of flashing dances

By the slow Italian streams.


American Whig Review (sub-title “A Song”), July, 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 5; 1845.

Text, 1845.

Variations from the text:

II.   6.   morn tints.   A. W. R.

III.   4. And: while.   A. W. R.; B. J.

  7. While: And.   A. W. R.; B. J.

  8. While: And.   A. W. R.; B. J.

TO F——s S. O——d

1845; “Lines Written in an Album,” Southern Literary Messenger, September, 1835, “To ——” Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, August, 1839, “To F——,” Broadway Journal, II. 10, lines 1-4.

Text, 1845.

Variations from the text:

1.   Eliza let thy generous heart.   S. L. M.

Fair maiden let thy generous heart.   B. G. M.

6.   Grace, thy more than: unassuming.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.

7.   Shall be an endless: And truth shall be a.   S. L. M.   Thy truth — shall be a.   B. G. M.

8.   Forever — and love a duty.   S. L. M.; B. G. M.

Note: The poem was addressed to Frances S. Osgood by Poe in 1845. The lines were originally written in his wife's album. Her name was Virginia Eliza Clemm.

TO F——

1845; Broadway Journal, I. 17, “To Mary”; Southern Literary Messenger, July, 1835, “To One Departed”; Graham's Magazine, March, 1842; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843.

Text, 1845.

Variations from the text: —

I.   1.   Mary amid the cares — the woes.   S. L. M.

For 'mid the earnest cares and woes.   G. M,; S. M. [page 223:]

  2.   That crowd: crowding.   S. L. M.

  3.   Drear: sad.   S. L. M.; G. M.; S. M.

  7.   Bland: sweet.   S. L. M.

II.   1.   And thus: Seraph.   G. M.; S. M.

  4.   Some lake beset as lake can be.   S. L. M.

throbbing far and free: vexed as it may be.   G. M.; S. M.

Reverse the order of stanzas.   G. M.; S. M.


Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, April, 1840; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; 1845; Broadway Journal, II. 3.

Text, 1845.

Variations of B. G. M. from the text: —

2.   Which thus is: life aptly.

3.   A: The.

9.   No more: italics.

12.   Untimely lot: no parenthesis.

13.   Shadow: italics.

14.   That: who; lone: dim.

Notes: There are several early references to “Silence” in “Al Aaraaf.” In Part I appears: —

“Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call

“Silence,” — which is the merest word of all.

All Nature speaks, and even ideal things

Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings.”

Poe's tale, “Silence. A Fable,” which was originally published in 1839 as “Siope,” contained the first two lines of the above quotation from “Al Aaraaf.”

A poem on “Silence,” signed “P,” as Poe had previously printed some of his lines, appeared in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, for September, 1839, while he was editor. This was regarded as Poe's poem, until a recent chance reference to William Sharp's “Sonnets of this Century” disclosed the fact that it was Thomas Hood's sonnet.

Sharp's note, p. 297, referring to Hood's “Silence” (Nos. ciii-iv) says it “should be compared with the following well-known sonnet by Edgar Poe.” He gives the lines of Poe's own “Silence,” as first printed in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, for April, 1840, while Poe was still the editor. [page 224:] Hood's lines on “Silence,” most assuredly printed by Poe in the September, 1839, Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, follow Hood's text, except in the eighth line, which has characteristic Poe punctuation. It seems a question whether Poe was influenced by Hood's lines in writing his own sonnet, or printed them as a hoax. If the latter had been his intention, as was his custom he would have called attention to the matter afterwards. The fact, however, that he remained quiet seven months and then wrote his own lines would indicate that he hopcd that his lines might be compared with Hood's and cause public comment; or, like the lines of Cone's “Proud Ladye,” which he reviewed in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine for July, 1840, and which are presumed to have inspired him to write “The Conqueror Worm” six months afterwards, Hood's “Silence” may have influenced him to some extent to write his own verse.


Graham's Magazine, January, 1843; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; 1845; Broadway Journal, I. 21; II. 12 “Ligeia”; Poe MS.; Richmond Enquirer, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Enquirer.

Variations from the text:

I.   3.   An angel: A mystic.   G. M.; S. M.; B. J.

II.   5.   formless: shadowy.   G. M.

IV.   7.   seraphs: the angels, all others except J. L. G., 1845 edition.

V.   2.   quivering: dying.   G. M.; B. J.

  5.   while: And, all others, except J. L. G., 1845 edition.   Angels: seraphs;   pallid: haggard.   G. M.

  8.   And: Omit.   G. M.; S. M.; B. J.

Notes: In “Ligeia,” in the Broadway Journal, Poe wrote “angels” in the fourth line of the first stanza of this poem instead of “Mystic,” and in the fourth verse changed “angels” to “seraph,” as he did in his later corrections.

A MS. copy of the poem, originally sent to Griswold by Poe and noted in Griswold's hand “Last poem sent by Poe,” has been compared. It follows the early texts with slight punctuation changes.

In Poe's review of Spencer Wallace Cone's poems in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, June, 1840, he says: “Here is a passage which breathes the true soul of poetry, and gives evidence of a purity of taste as well as a vigor of thought which may lead to high eminence in the end: — [page 225:]

“ ‘Spread o’er his rigid form

The banner of his pride,

And let him meet the conqueror worm

With his good sword by his side.’ ”


Baltimore Museum, April, 1839; Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” September, 1839; Tales, “Fall of the House of Usher,” 1840; Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843; Graham's Magazine, February, 1845; 1845; Tales, 1845, “The Fall of the House of Usher”; Richmond Examiner, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

I.   4.   radiant: snow white.   B. M.; 1840; B. G. M.

III.   1.   all wanderers.   B. M.

  8.   ruler: sovereign.   B. M.; B. G. M.

IV. 5.   sweet: sole.   B. G. M.

VI.   2.   encrimson’d: red litten, all others;

  5.   ghastly rapid: rapid ghastly.   B. M.; B. G. M.; 1840; 1845.

Notes: In Graham's Magazine the fourth and sixth stanzas are entirely in italics. The MS. of this poem is now complete, the first half, originally in the possession of R. W. Griswold, having been found. It was evidently sent to Griswold late in 1849, as it closely follows the text, and the J. Lorimer Graham edition of 1845, with Poe's corrections. The Griswold collection now has only the last half, and the first part, supposed to have been lost, has been found and was used in comparing the texts.

In Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, at the end of “The Fall of the House of Usher,” is the following note: “The ballad of ‘The Haunted Palace’ introduced in this tale was published separately some months ago in the Baltimore Museum.”

In a letter to Griswold, March 29, 1841 Poe stated: “By The Haunted Palace, I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms — a disordered brain.”

In “Marginalia” in the Southern Literary Messenger for May, 1849, Poe quotes the first twelve lines of this poem, which follows the text, except “Radiant Palace” is in parenthesis instead of lines eleven and twelve. [page 226:]



Southern Literary Messenger, December, 1835; January, 1836; 1845

Text, 1845.

Variations of Southern Literary Messenger from the text: —

II.   1.   Rome.   1845.

  114.   this sacred: A vow — a.

III.   1.   Baldazzar: Baldazzar his friend.

  7.   surely: I live.

  69.   eloquent: voice — that.

  70.   surely I: I surely.

  76.   it: that lattice.

  104.   Believe me: Baldazzar! Oh!

IV.   5.   sob: weep.

  6.   mourn: weep.

  9.   turn here thine eyes: and listen to me.

  30.   to me: speak not.

V.   7.   Paradisal Hope: hopes — give me to live.

After 50, insert: —

If that we meet at all, it were as well

That I should meet him in the Vatican —

In the Vatican — within the holy walls

Of the Vatican.

  66.   then at once: have at thee then.

  72.   thy sacred: hold off thy.

  73.   indeed I dare not: I dare not, dare not.

After 73, insert: —

Exceeding well! — thou darest not fight with me?

After 82, insert: —

Thou darest not!

  84.   my lord: alas!

  86.   the veriest: I am — a.

  99.   thou liest: By God; indeed — now this.

Notes: In the Southern Literary Messenger the title is “Scenes From An Unpublished Drama,” and begins with Part II, of the text.

A portion of the drama is quoted in the “Longfellow War,” Broadway [page 227:] Journal, March 29, 1845. The lines about Jacinta and her mistress’ jewels in the second scene are changed, and the line “This sacred vow” changed to “A pious vow.”

The song in “Politian” which Poe says is English has been identified. It is among the poems of Sir Thomas Wyat, an early English poet. The full text follows: —


“And wilt thou leave me thus?

Say nay! say nay! for shame,

To save thee from the blame

Of all my grief and grame.

And wilt thou leave me thus?

Say nay! say nay!

“And wilt thou leave me thus,

That hath loved thee so long,

In wealth and woe among?

And is thy heart so strong

As for to leave me thus?

Say nay! say nay!

“And wilt thou leave me thus,

That hath given thee my heart

Never for to depart

Neither for pain nor smart;

And wilt thou leave me thus?

Say nay! say nay!

“And wilt thou leave me thus,

And have no more pity

Of him that loveth thee?

Alas! thy cruelty!

And wilt thou leave me thus?

Say nay! say nay!”

The original manuscript of the drama of Politian is now in the library of J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq., of New York. It was once in the possession of Mrs. Lewis. The MS. consists of twenty folio pages, containing nearly [page 228:] six hundred and fifty lines, but is not complete; some pages have gone astray. At the top of the first page is the heading: —

“Politian — a tragedy

Scene — Rome in the — Century.”

The drama ends with Politian, alone in the Coliseum at night, who utters a characteristic soliloquy — nothing less than a portion of the well-known lines from “The Coliseum.” There are few alterations, but some interlineations and lines marked out. At the head of the first extract printed in the Southern Literary Messenger, Poe has written in pencil “Scenes from Politian. An unpublished Tragedy by Edgar A. Poe, Act II, Scene 3,” which indicates that the MS. was evidently used for the Messengertext — the variations having been made in proof. The manuscript was probably written about 1831. A list of the dramatis personæ follows the heading and shows four additional characters. It also describes the characters “Lalage,” an orphan and the ward of Di Broglio; Politian, “a young and noble Roman”; Baldazzar, “his friend.” The two latter personages were subsequently transformed into the “Earl of Leicester” and the “Duke of Surrey.”

The first act is a scene in the palazzo of the Duke Di Broglio in an apartment strewn with the débris of a protracted revel, with two of the Duke's servants, Benito and Ugo, the latter intoxicated, who are joined by Rupert a third servant. They discuss their master's son, Count Castiglione, who was —

“Not long ago

A very nobleman in heart and deed.”

But of his treatment of the beautiful lady Lalage, Rupert says: —

“His conduct there has damned him in my eyes.”

“O villain! villain! she his plighted wife

And his own father's ward. I have noticed well

That we may date his ruin — so I call it —

His low debaucheries — his gaming habits —

And all his numerous vices from the time

Of that most base seduction and abandonment.”

Benito: —

“The sin sits heavily on his soul

And goads him to these courses.” [page 229:]

They speak further of Castiglione's approaching nuptials with his cousin Alessandra, who was “the bosom friend of the fair lady Lalage ere this mischance.” Benito and Rupert retire to bed and leave Ugo, who while also about to depart meets Jacinta the maid servant of Lalage, with whom he is enamored. She displays some jewels, and intimates that they were given to her by Castiglione, but finally sets at rest the green-eyed monster, and ends the scene by confessing that they were given to her by Mistress Lalage “as a free gift and for a marriage present.”

The second scene introduces Castiglione and his evil genius the Count San Ozzo, in the former's dressing room. The Count hints of the Duke's keeping Lalage in seclusion, and hums: —

“Birds of so fine a feather,

And of so wanton eye,

Should be caged — should be caged —

Should be caged in all weather

Lest they fly.”

To which Castiglione replies: —

“San Ozzo! you do her wrong — unmanly wrong!

Never in woman's breast enthronéd sat

A purer heart! If ever woman fell

With an excuse for falling, it was she!

If ever plighted vows most sacredly —

Solemnly-sworn, perfidiously broken,

Will damn a man, that damned villain am I!

Young, ardent, beautiful — and loving well —

And pure as beautiful — how could she think —

“How could she dream, being herself all truth,

Of my black perfidy? 0h, that I were not

Castiglione, but some peasant hind;

The humble tiller of some humble field

That I dare be honest!”

San Ozzo: —

“Exceedingly fine!

I never heard a better speech in all my life,

Besides, you’re right. Oh, honesty's the thing! [page 230:]

Honesty, poverty and true consent,

With the unutterable ecstasies,

Of bread, and milk and water!”

The third scene opens in a Hall in the Palace, and with minor alterations is what is now the first published. The next scene opens with Di Broglio and his son in conversation about Politian. Castiglione “always thought the Earl a gloomy man, but instead I have found him full of such humor — such wit — such vim — such flashes of merriment.”

They are disturbed by the entrance of Politian and Baldazzar. Castiglione attempts to introduce them to his father, but Politian suddenly retires and is excused by Baldazzar, who claims for his friend sudden illness. The scene which follows is the third published. The next third act of the MS. is fourth of that published. The next, unpublished, shows preparations for the wedding of Alessandra and Castiglione, and the bad treatment of Ugo by Jacinta. This is followed by scene 5 as published. A long hiatus occurs in the MS., where scene 5 now ends with Castiglione. The whole of the first scene, 4th act, in which it is learned that Politian again met Castiglione and

“In the public streets

Called him a coward!”

is missing, as also the first thirty-seven lines of the succeeding scene between San Ozzo and Ugo. The latter, apparently dejected by Jacinta's treatment, attempts to commit suicide. San Ozzo remarks aside: —

“I’ve heard before that such ideas as these

Have seized on human brains.”

The third scene brings Politian alone in the moonlit Coliseum waiting for Lalage, and with the soliloquy the MS. ends.


Sartain's Union Magazine, November, 1849. Richmond Examiner, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

[page 231:]

Variations from Sartain's Union Magazine:

I.   3.   What: no italics.

II.   3.   What: no italics.

  12.   What: no italics.

III.   3.   What: no italics.

  26.   Yes: Yet.

IV.   3.   What: no italics.

Notes: Sartain's Union Magazine, December, 1849.

“The singular poem of Mr. Poe's, called ‘The Bells,’ which we published in our last number, has been very extensively copied. There is a curious piece of literary history connected with this poem, which we may as well give now as at any other time. It illustrates the gradual development of an idea in the mind of a man of original genius. This poem came into our possession about a year since. It then consisted of eighteen lines! They were as follows: —


“The bells! — hear the bells!

The merry wedding bells!

The little silver bells’.

How fairy-like a melody there swells

From the silver tinkling cells

Of the bells, bells, bells!

Of the bells!

“The bells! — ah, the bells!

The heavy iron bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells!

Hear the knells!

How horrible a monody there floats

From their throats —

From their deep-toned throats!

How I shudder at the notes

From the melancholy throats

Of the bells, bells, bells!

Of the bells!

“About six months after this we received the poem enlarged and altered nearly to its present size and form; and about three months since, the [page 232:] author sent another alteration and enlargement, in which condition the poem was left at the time of his death.”

According to the above the last draft of “The Bells” was received by Sartain's Union Magazine, about September, 1849, at which period Poe was revising his writings at Richmond, Virginia. The second draft, much like the last, was sent to the same magazine in June, 1849, and the eighteen lines about December, 1848. In Gill's Life of Poe, page 205, it is stated that Poe composed and finished his greatest descriptive poem “The Bells” in the spring of 1849, a study of which he had previously made and sent to Sartain's Union Magazine. Ingrain claims that it was the Summer of 1848 and not the Autumn that Poe wrote the first draft of “The Bells,” at Mrs. Shew's residence. Professor Woodberry's revised Life of Poe, page 295, volume ii, says, that according to Annie he finished “The Bells,” presumably the second draft, February 6, 1849, and on page 388, that he visited Lowell the last week in May, and there wrote the last draft of “The Bells.”

Poe in a letter to Annie, February 8, 1849, says, “The day before I wrote a poem considerably longer than ‘The Raven.’ I call it ‘The Bells.’ How I wish ‘Annie’ could see it. I think ‘The Bells’ will appear in The American Review.”

The second draft of “The Bells,” claimed as sent to Sartain's Union Magazine, was shorter than “The Raven,” so upon Poe's evidence the longer draft was made in February, 1849, and it was his intention to send it to the American Whig Review. F. W. Thomas states that he had a manuscript copy of “The Bells”; Griswold's, 1850, differs from Sartain's Union Magazine text, and it would seem that the claim that Poe left at least four manuscript copies of the poems is true. Only one copy, however, is known in America at the present time, now in the library of J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq., which lacks the last fourteen lines. A manuscript printed in a London magazine, in facsimile, is said to be a second copy, but does not differ materially from the American manuscript. In the original MS. the word “bells” is repeated five times in the twelfth line of the first stanza and twice in the line following. The same change is made in the corresponding lines of the next stanza. In the third stanza, sixth line, the word “much” is placed before “too.” In the fifth line from the last of the stanza “clamor” was written and “anger” placed in the last line. The word “menace” in the sixth line of the fourth stanza was originally written “meaning.” The eighth line of this stanza was first written “From out their ghostly throats,” and the eleventh line changed twice, reading first “Who live up in the [page 233:] steeple,” which was changed to “They that sleep,” and finally “dwell” was printed instead of “sleep.” After the eighteenth line, the following line was struck out: —

“But are pestilential carcasses departed from their souls.”

For this “They are ghouls” was substituted. The Stedman and Woodberry and Virginia Poe editions of the poems give Sartain's Union Magazine as their authorized text, but none of them agree.

F. W. Thomas, Recollections of E. A. Poe, states that the germ of this poem like most others was formed very early in Poe's career. In some manner Thomas had obtained possession of Poe's early “Marginalia Book” used by the poet while engaged on the Southern Literary Messenger. In a written statement made to me by John W. Fergusson, an apprentice, employed on the Southern Literary Messenger, and who carried proof sheets to Poe's home and helped celebrate his marriage in Richmond, it is claimed that the book was left at the Messenger office by Poe and was his property many years, but went astray.

Among the clippings in this book was one with a reference to “Bells” which Poe afterwards used again in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. This clipping from Poulson's Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser about the Autumn of 1833 when Poe was engaged upon same is now in my possession. It is under the heading of VARIETIES, followed by the quotation: —

“Trahit quod cunque potest, atque addit acervo.”

It reads: “Bells. — Bells were first brought into use by St. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola (409) in the Campania of Rome: hence a bell was called Nola or Campagna. At first they were called saints: hence coc-saint, or toc-sin, in process of time. But Pliny reports that, many ages before his time bells were in use, and called Tintin-nabula; and Suetonius says that Augustine had one put at the gate of the Temple of Jupiter, to call the meeting of the people.” This was followed by a paragraph on the use of “Accents and Points.”

Poe told Thomas that the “Chimes” by Dickens was his final inspiration to write his poem of “The Bells.” That story left a deep impression on his mind after reading a copy sent him from abroad, and he reprinted it entire into the Mirror, probably its first publication in America.

He said: “Thomas, that ghostly story with beleaguered phantoms and goblins — up, up, up, up, — higher, high, high, higher up — haunted [page 234:] me day and night.” A bell never sounded in his ear but he heard those chimes — “high, high, higher up,” which afterwards took the form in his own poem of leaping — “high, higher, higher.” “Many a time,” continued Thomas, “after the din and clamor of some bells had died away he would say to his wife Virginia and Mrs. Clemm — ‘I will have to do something to get those noisy creatures out of my way; they creep into my brain — confuse and disorder my ideas.’”

He gave this as an explanation for the lines in the American Whig Review, of April, 1845, in his poem of “The Valley of Unrest,” which he afterwards suppressed: —

“They wave; they weep; and the tears as they well

From the depth of each pallid lily-bell,

Give a trickle and a tinkle and a knell.”

While the subject continually haunted his imagination Thomas states that it only assumed definite shape early in 1848. In two early numbers of the Union Magazine, Poe had observed several poems on “Bells,” and at once wrote a draft of his own “Bells.” When about to send to the Union Magazine, he noticed an editorial note in same, calling attention to a glut of manuscript on hand and suggesting a poem of twenty lines. Then he wrote a short poem on “The Bells” and sent it in, but it never appeared. He had rewritten the poem several times, had offered it to a number of magazines, but was never able to get his price or have it accepted. Still he always retained the greatest faith in the merits of the poem. Thomas did not think that Sartain's Union Magazine ever accepted or paid Poe for this poem.

John R. Thompson, in a notice in the Southern Literary Messenger, and also John M. Daniel in the Richmond Examiner, shortly after Poe's death, both state that it was the design of Poe, as he himself told them, to express in language the exact sounds of bells to the ear. They thought that he had succeeded far better than Southey, who attempted in a similar feat to tell how the waters “come down at Lodore.”

Mrs. William Wiley, the daughter of Mrs. Shew, wrote me that she remembers how her mother told her that Poe wrote “The Bells” at her home. When a little girl going to school she was given some lessons on Poe, and her mother gave her the written lines of “The Bells” by Poe, to show her teacher. The manuscript was sold in New York at auction some years ago. The lines read as follows: — [page 235:]

“The bells! — ah, the bells!

The little silver bells!

How fairy-like a melody there floats

From their throats —

From their merry little throats —

From the silver, tinkling throats

Of the bells, bells, bells —

Of the bells!

“The bells! — ah, the bells!

The heavy iron bells.

How horrible a monody there floats

From their throats —

From their deep-toned throats —

From their melancholy throats!

How I shudder at the notes

Of the bells, bells, bells —

Of the bells!”

The manuscript of these lines was sent by Mrs. Shew to Mr. J. H. Ingram, of London, who, in his Life of Poe, states: “Poe wrote the first rough draft of ‘The Bells’ at Mrs. Shew's residence. ‘One day he came in,’ she records in her diary, and said, ‘Marie Louise, I have to write a poem; I have no feeling, no sentiment, no inspiration!’ His hostess persuaded him to have some tea. It was served in the conservatory, the windows of which were open, and admitted the sound of neighboring church bells. Mrs. Shew said playfully, ‘Here is paper,’ but the poet declining it declared, ‘I so dislike the noise of bells to-night, I cannot write, I have no subject — I am exhausted!’ The lady then took up the pen, and pretending to mimic his style, wrote, ‘The Bells by E. A. Poe,’ and then in pure sportiveness, ‘The Bells, the little silver bells,’ finishing off the stanza. She then suggested for the next verse ‘The heavy iron bells!’ and this Poe also expanded into a stanza. He next copied out the complete poem and headed it, ‘By Mrs. M. L. Shew,’ remarking that it was her poem, as she had composed so much of it. Mrs. Shew continues, ‘My brother came in, and I sent him to Mrs. Clemm to tell her that “her boy would stay in town, and was well.” My brother took Mr Poe to his own room, where he slept twelve hours, and could hardly recall the evening's work.’” [page 236:]

TO M. L. S—

Poe's MS. To Mrs. M. L. S., February 14, 1847. Home Journal, March 13, 1847.

Text, Home Journal.

Variations in MS. from text:

2.   Thine: thy.

9.   Lying: Laying then.

14.   Resembles: approaches.

Notes: The poem was introduced in the Home Journal as follows: —

“The following seems said over a hand clasped in the speaker's two. It is by Edgar A. Poe, and is evidently the pouring out of a very deep feeling of gratitude.”

The poem was sent to Mrs. Marie Louise Shew. The manuscript copy dated February 14, 1847, is still in the possession of her daughter, Mrs. William Wiley, and was used in making comparisons of the text.

TO — — —

Columbian Magazine, March, 1848.

Text, Columbian Magazine.

Notes: The tenth line of this poem is spoken by Lalage in “Politian,” and some portions of “Israfel” are in lines fourteen and fifteen.

Poe sent a MS. copy of this poem to Mrs. Shew. The first seven lines follow the text.


Two gentle sounds made only to he murmured

By angels dreaming in the moon-lit “dew

That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill”

Have stirred from out the abysses of my heart

Unthought-like thoughts — scarcely the shades of thought —

Bewildering fantasies — far richer visions

Than even the seraph harper, Israfel,

Who “had the sweetest voice of all God's creatures,”

Would hope to utter. Ah, Marie Louise!

In deep humility I own that now

All pride — all thought of power — all hopes of fame — [page 237:]

All wish for Heaven — is merged forevermore

Beneath the palpitating tide of passion

Heaped o’er my soul by thee. Its spells are broken —

The pen falls powerless from my shivering hand —

With that dear name as text I cannot write —

I cannot speak — I cannot even think —

Alas! I cannot feel; for ‘t is not feeling —

This standing motionless upon the golden

Threshold of the wide-open gates of Dreams,

Gazing, entranced, adown the gorgeous vista,

And thrilling as I see upon the right —

Upon the left — and all the way along,

Amid the clouds of glory: far away

To where the prospect terminates — thee only.


Sonnet, Union Magazine, March, 1848; Griswold, 1850 (An Enigma).

Text, Union Magazine.

Variation of Griswold from the text:

10. Petrarchmanities: tuckermanities.

Note: The first letter of the first line, the second letter of the second line, etc., form the name Sarah Anna Lewis.

This poem was sent to Mrs. Lewis (Stella) in November, 1847, and Griswold's text follows that manuscript.

TO — — —

“To Helen,” Griswold; 1850. “The Poets and Poetry of America,” 1855. Union Magazine, November, 1848.

Text, Union Magazine.

Variations of Griswold from text:

26.   Insert after me: (Oh Heaven! oh, God! How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)

Notes: It is claimed that the lines given by Griswold were omitted from the Union Magazine, without Poe's authority. There appears no direct evidence for this however. The authority for Griswold's text is not found — likewise his title “To Helen.” He discarded his early [page 238:] text, and followed that of the Union Magazine in revising his later edition of “The Poets and Poetry of America.”

Poe is presumed to have sent the lines for publication in the following letter to Bayard Taylor, June 15, 1848: “I would feel greatly indebted to you if you could spare the time to look over the lines enclosed and let me know whether they will be accepted for ‘the Union,’ — if so what you can afford to pay for them and when they can appear.”

This poem was addressed to Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman. In the Union Magazine, line eighteen, the word “see” is printed for “saw.”


Flag of Our Union, March 3, 1849; Sartain's Union Magazine, March, 1849.

Text, Flag of Our Union.

Variations of Sartain's Union Magazine from the text: —

1.   These lines are: this rhyme is.

4.   This: the.

5.   This rhyme, which holds: the lines! — they hold.

8.   Letters themselves: Syllables!

12.   Understand: comprehend.

13.   Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering.

14.   Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus.

15.   A well-known name: Three eloquent words.

Notes: The text is followed by the words “Valentine Eve, 1849.” A manuscript copy among the Griswold papers is as follows: —

TO —


For her these lines are penned, whose luminous eyes,


Bright and expressive as the stars of Leda,

Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling, lies


Upon this page, enwrapped from every reader.


Search narrowly these words, which hold a treasure

Divine — a talisman — an amulet

That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure —


The words — the letters themselves. Do not forget [page 239:]


The smallest point, or you may lose your labor.

And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

Which one might not undo without a sabre

If one could merely comprehend the plot.


Upon the open page on which are peering


Such sweet eyes now, there lies, I say, perdu


A musical name oft uttered in the hearing

Of poets, by poets — for the name is a poet's too.

In common sequence set, the letters lying,

Compose a sound delighting all to hear —

Ah, this you’d have no trouble in descrying

Were you not something of a dunce, my dear: —

And now I leave these riddles to their Seer.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 46.

The name Frances Sargent Osgood is spelled incorrectly in the above lines. Another MS. copy in the Griswold collection dated Valentine's Eve, 1848, shows the following variations from the above: —

A Valentine: By Edgar A. Poe. To: — — —

1.   these lines: this rhyme.

2.   Bright, stars, Leda: Brightly, twins Lœda.

4.   this: the.

5.   words, which: lines, they.

8.   the letters themselves: the syllables.

9.   smallest: trivialest.

13.   Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering.

14.   Eyes scintillating soul, their lie perdus.

15.   A musical name: Three eloquent words.

After 16: —

Its letters, although naturally lying

(Like the knight Pinto — Mendez Ferdinando —)

Still form a synonym for Truth. — cease trying!

You will not read the riddle though you do the best you can do.

The following foreword appeared in the Flag of Our Union: —

“At a Valentine Soirée, in New York, the following enigmatical lines were received, among others, and read aloud to the company. The verses were enclosed in an envelope, addressed ‘T0 HER WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN WITHIN.’ As no lady present could so read the riddle as [page 240:] to find her name written in it the Valentine remained, and still remains, unclaimed. Can any of our readers of the Flag discover for whom it is intended ?”

After the poem was the following note: “Should there be no solution furnished of the above, we will give the key next week.”

It is evident that none of the readers sent in any answers, for in the issue of March 10 appears the following: —

“The Key to the Valentine.

“To transcribe the address of the Valentine which appeared in our last paper from the pen of Edgar A. Poe, read the first letter of the first line in connection with the second letter of the second line, the third letter of the third line, the fourth of the fourth, and so on to the end. The name of our contributor Frances Sargent Osgood will appear.”


Flag of Our Union, April 28, 1849; Home Journal, April 28, 1849; Poe MS. Griswold, 1850; “The Poets and Poetry of America,” 1855. Richmond Examiner, October, 1849.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

II.   1.   Sadly I know I am.   MS.; F. O. U.

Transpose stanzas IV and V, MS.; F. O. U.

IV.   3.   Are quieted now with, MS.; Are quieted now; and the, F. O. U.

  4.   That: the.   MS.; Horrible throbbing,   F. O. U.

  5.   Ah: Oh.   MS.; O, F. O. U.

VI.   1.   Oh: Ah. MS.; F. O. U.

  6.   Passion: Glory. MS.; F. O. U,

VII.   3. Spring: Fountain. F. O. U,

VIII.   1. But: And. H. J.; Gr.; P. P. A.

And ah! let it never be. MS.; F. O. U.

  2.   Be: out.   MS.; and F. O. U.

  7.   Sleep: italics out except Gr.; P. P. A.

IX.   1.   My tantalized spirit here. MS.

X.   2.   It: I. MS.

  3.   A holier odor about me. MS.

  4.   Of pansy. MS.

  6.   Pansies: pansy. MS. [page 241:]

XI.   1. It: I, MS.

  3. Truth: love. MS.; F. O. U.

XII.   5. Deeply to sleep from the. MS.; F. O. U.

  6. From the: out. MS.; F. O. U.

XIV.   3-7. Omit parenthesis. F. O. U.

XV.   3. In: of. All others except Gr.; Stars of the Heaven — for it. MS.

  5. Light: though. MS.; fire. F. O. U.

A manuscript copy of “For Annie” was sold at the Pierce sale in Philadelphia, May 6, 1903. “Annie” was Mrs. Richmond of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Poe complained that the Flag of Our Union misprinted the lines, for which reason he sent a corrected copy to the Home Journal. They seem, however, to have been published simultaneously. Poe sent to Mrs. Richmond a portion of his poem “A Dream Within A Dream,” headed “For Annie.” In his last revision of this poem he also changed the title, “To —.” and unquestionably addressed the poem to “Annie.”


Flag of Our Union, July 7, “To My Mother,” 1849; Richmond Examiner, October, 1849; Southern Literary Messenger, December, 1849; Leaflets of Memory, Philadelphia, 1850; Griswold, 1850.

Text, Southern Literary Messenger.

Variations from the text:

1.   The angels: I feel that.   F. O. U.; Gr.

2.   Devoutly singing unto: The angels whispering to.   F. O. U.; Gr.

3.   Amid: among.   F. O. U.; Gr.

5.   Sweet: dear.   Gr.

7.   Filling: And fill; God: Death,   F. O. U.; Gr.

9.   My: Omit italics. F. O. U.; Gr.

11.   dead: one.   F. O. U.; Gr.

12.   And thus are dearer than the mother I knew.   F. O. U.; Gr.

Notes: This poem refers to his mother-in-law, who was also his aunt — Mrs. Clemm. The Examiner text follows the Southern Literary Messenger. The Leaflets of Memory has one change in punctuation. The sonnet is introduced in the Southern Literary Messenger as follows: “One of the most touching of the compositions of poor Poe is the Sonnet to his Mother-in-law. It bears the impress of sincere feeling, and seems [page 242:] to have been written in his better moments, when his spirit returning from ‘the misty mid-regions of Weir’ and the companions of Ghouls, betrayed that touch of nature which makes the whole world kin.”


Flag of Our Union, April 21, 1849; Griswold, 1850.

Text, Flag of Our Union.

Note: The Griswold text shows no changes. A reference is made in the poem “Dream-Land” to “Eldorado.”


New York Tribune, October 9, 1849; Richmond Examiner, October, 1849; Southern Literary Messenger, November, 1849; Sartain's Union Magazine, January, 1850, with sub-title “A Ballad”; Griswold, 1850; “The Poets and Poetry of America,” 1855; Poe MS.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text:

II.   1.   She ... I: I ... She.   T. Gr. MS. and 1850. No italics in S. U. M.

  5.   Of: in T. and Gr. MS.

III.   3.   By night: chilling.   T. Gr. MS. and 1850. S. U. M.

  4.   chilling: My beautiful.   T. Gr. MS. and 1850. S. U. M.

  5.   Kinsman:   S. U. M.; Gr. 1850.

IV.   5.   Chilling: by night.   T. Gr. MS. and 1850. S. U. M.

  6.   And: chilling.   T. Gr. MS. and 1850. S. U. M.

VI.   3.   See: feel, all others except   S. L. M.; S. U. M.; MS., feel.

  6.   My life: omit italics all others.

  7.   Her: the.   Gr. 1850.

  8.   Sounding: side of.   S. L. M.; S. U. M.; R. E.

Note in Sartain's Union Magazine with the poem: —

“In the December number of our magazine we announced that we had another poem of Mr. Poe's in hand, which we would publish in January. We supposed it to be his last, as we had received it from him a short time before his decease. The sheet containing our announcement was scarcely dry from the press, before we saw the poem, which we had bought and paid for, going the rounds of the newspaper press, into which it had found its way through some agency that will perhaps be hereafter [page 243:] explained. It appeared first, we believe, in the New York Tribune. If we are not misinformed, two other Magazines are in the same predicament as ourselves. As the poem is one highly characteristic of the gifted and lamented author, and more particularly, as our copy of it differs in several places from that which has been already published, we have concluded to give it as already announced.”

Notes: Poe's manuscript from which Sartain's Union Magazine printed the poem is now in the library of J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq. of New York city. It is written on two sheets of blue glazed paper ruled and pasted together. On the back is written in Professor Hart's hand “$5 paid.” “This was the price paid by Sartain's Union Magazine when it was accepted and published in 1850 (J. S. Hart, Editor).” These comments throw some obscurity upon the previous remarks of the editor of Sartain's Union Magazine when the poem was published in January, 1850, wherein it is intimated that they bought and paid Poe himself for the poem. This was an impossibility in 1850 as Poe died in 1849. The statement in Sartain's Union Magazine has often been used to reflect on Poe's character, and it now seems unwarranted.

F. W. Thomas, who was conversant with many of Poe's as well as Mrs. Clemm's affairs, states that “Poe was never paid for the poem by Sartain's Union Magazine.” It seems unlikely that Poe would have parted with the poem for $5. In a letter to Griswold in 1849 (no date) he asks if he cannot sell “Annabel Lee” to Graham's [[Graham's]] or Godey for $50, before same appeared in his book. Sartain's Union Magazine acknowledged holding the poem nearly four months, and it now seems doubtful if it was ever accepted or paid for.

The original manuscript also shows that the editor of Sartain's Union Magazine did not use Poe's punctuation, italics, or capital letters. Furthermore, that he printed the word “kinsman” which reads plainly “kinsmen.” The November, 1849, Southern Literary Messenger published “Annabel Lee” with the statement that the manuscript was handed in by Poe the day before he left Richmond. This manuscript also shows that the Messenger failed to follow Poe's punctuation. It has been thought that Griswold used a manuscript of Poe for his text of 1850, but it is now evident that he merely copied from Sartain's Union Magazine, following the error there and printing “kinsman” for “kinsmen” and using “the” sepulchre for “her” sepulchre as Poe always wrote same in all his manuscripts of the poem. This seems strange when the fact is known that Griswold had at that time a manuscript of the poem in Poe's [page 244:] own hand, which he did not use until later in his “Poets and Poetry of America,” and then did not follow the text accurately.

Of the three known manuscript copies of “Annabel Lee,” that of the Southern Literary Messenger closely follows the text. Poe gave away the Thorne MS. before leaving New York, in June, 1849, the Griswold copy was forwarded by mail in 1849 (no date), and he gave the Southern Literary Messenger copy to John R. Thompson the day previous to leaving Richmond, September 27, 1849.


American Whig Review (“To — — —.” “Ulalume”: A Ballad), December, 1847; Home Journal, January 1, 1848; Literary World (“Ulalume.” A Ballad), March 3, 1849; Richmond Examiner, October, 1849; Poe MS., 1849; “The Poets and Poetry of America,” 1855.

Text, Richmond Examiner.

Variations from the text follow:

II.   4.   Days: the days.   L. W.

VI.   4.   Ah: Oh.   All others except MS.

  5.   Ah: Oh.   All others except MS.

VII.   9.   Surely: safely.   All others except MS.

VIII.   5.   But: And.   A. W. R.

IX.   9.   Ah: Oh.   A. W. R.; hath: has. All others except MS.

  13.   This: In the.   A. W. R.

X.   7.   Have: Had.   All others except MS.

Notes: Griswold, 1850, omits “We” in III. 9 and the entire tenth stanza with other slight variations from the text. In his “Poets and Poetry of America,” text of 1855 he used the tenth stanza, and follows the American Whig Review with the exception of VII. 10, where “Have” is used for “Had” — one of Poe's last corrections.

Poe wrote to the Editor of the Home Journal, December 8, 1847, as follows: —

“I send you an American Review — the number just issued — in which is a ballad by myself, but published anonymously. It is called ‘Ulalume’ — the is turned down. I do not care to be known as its author just now; but would take it as a great favor if you would copy it in the H.J., with a word of inquiry as to who wrote it: — provided always that you think the poem worth the room it would occupy in your paper — a matter about which I am by no means sure.” [page 245:]

The poem appeared January 1, 1848, with the following comment:

“We do not know how many readers we have who will enjoy, as we do, the following exquisitely piquant and skilful exercise of variety 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 philologic flavor. Who is the author?”

Poe wrote E. A. Duyckinck of the Literary World February 16, 1849:

“Perhaps in the conversation I had with you in your office about ‘Ulalume,’ I did not make you comprehend precisely what was the request I made: so to save trouble I send now the enclosed from the Providence Daily Journal. If you will oblige me by copying the slip as it stands, prefacing it by the words ‘From the Providence Journal’ it will make everything straight.”

The Literary World printed the poem March 3, 1849, with the following note: —

“The following fascinating poem, which is from the pen of EDGAR A. POE, has been drifting about the newspapers under anonymous or mistaken imputation of authorship, — having been attributed to N. P. WILLIS. We now restore it to its proper owner. It originally appeared without name in the American Review. In peculiarity of versification, and a certain cold moonlight witchery, it has much of the power of the author's ‘Raven.’ ”

In the review of H. B. Hirst (Griswold, 1850), Poe states:

“To my face, and in the presence of my friends, Mr. H. has always made a point of praising my own poetical efforts; and, for this reason, I should forgive him, perhaps the amiable weakness of abusing them anonymously. In a late number of ‘The Philadelphia Courier,’ he does me the honor of attributing to my pen a ballad called ‘Ulalume,’ which has been going the rounds of the press, sometimes with my name to it; sometimes with Mr. Willis's, and sometimes with no name at all. Mr. Hirst insists upon it that I wrote it, and it is just possible that he knows more about the matter than I do myself. Speaking of a particular passage he says: ‘We have spoken of the mystical appearance of Astarte as a fine touch of art. This is borrowed, and from the first canto of Hirst's “Endymion” ... published years since in the Southern Literary Messenger:’ —

‘Slowly Endymion bent, the light Elysian

Flooding his figure. Kneeling on one knee,

He loosed his sandals, lea

And lake and woodland glittering on his vision — [page 246:]

A fairy landscape, bright and beautiful,

With Venus at her full.’ ”

Astarte is another name for Venus; and when we remember that Diana is about to descend to Endymion — that the scene which is about to follow is one of love — that Venus is the star of love — and that Hirst, by introducing it as he does, shadows out his story exactly as Mr. Poe introduces his Astarte — the plagiarism of idea becomes evident. Poe quotes the fourth stanza of “Ulalume” and regrets that he finds no resemblance between the two passages in question. He then quotes four lines from “Lenore,” which he charges Hirst with using in his “The Penance of Roland,” and concludes: “Many a lecture, on literary topics, have I given Mr. H.; and I confess that in general he has adopted my advice so implicitly that his poems, upon the whole, are little more than our conversations done into verse.”

Mrs. S. H. Whitman in a letter to the New York Tribune dated Providence, September 29, 1875, in answer to F. G. Fairfield's “A Mad Man of Letters,” makes the following reference to “Ulalume”: —

“The gist of the poem is Venus ‘Astarte’ — the crescent star of hope and love that, after a night of horror, was seen in the constellation of Leo: —

‘Coming up through the lair of the Lion

As the star dials hinted of morn.’

The forlorn heart might have been seen hailing it as a harbinger of happiness yet to be, hoping against hope, until, when the planet was seen to be rising over the tomb of a lost love, hope itself rejected as a cruel mockery, and the dark angel conquered. There might also be discerned in this strange and splendid phantasy something of that ethical quality found by an eloquent interpreter of Poe's genius in the July British Quarterly. Like the ‘Epipsychidion’ of Shelley, it is a poem for poets and will not readily give up ‘the heart of the mystery.’”

Mrs. Whitman claimed that the last stanza of the poem was suppressed by Poe at her suggestion. This was probably Griswold's authority for leaving out that stanza in the 1850 volume; but it is to be noted that he afterwards found out his mistake and replaced same in his later publications. All Poe's publications of the poem show the concluding stanza, and in the later revision of the poem he made two corrections in that stanza. There is no evidence to indicate a suppression.

A manuscript copy of the poem, including the last verse written by [page 247:] Poe in the latter part of the year 1849, is in the library of J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq., of New York city. This manuscript was given by the poet to Miss Susan Ingram at Old Point, Virginia, during September, 1849, with the following letter:

“I have transcribed ‘Ulalume’ with much pleasure, Dear Miss Ingram — as I am sure I would do anything else at your bidding — but I fear you will find the verses scarcely more intelligible to-day in my manuscript than last night in my recitation. I would endeavor to explain to you what I really meant — or what I fancied I meant by the poem, if it were not that I remembered Dr. Johnson's bitter and rather just remark about the folly of explaining what, if worth explanation, would explain itself. He has a happy witticism, too, about some book which he calls ‘as obscure as an explanatory note.’ Leaving ‘Ulalume’ to its fate, therefore, and in good hands, I am, yours truly.”

In an article by Mrs. Gove-Nichols, published in the Sixpenny Magazine, February, 1863, reference is made to a poem sent to Colton,editor of the American Whig Review, by Poe prior to the summer of 1846, as follows: —

“We had already read the poem in conclave, and Heaven forgive us, we could not make head or tail to it. It might as well have been in any of the lost languages, for any meaning we could extract from its melodious numbers. I remember saying that I believed it was a hoax that Poe was passing off for poetry, to see how far his name would go in imposing upon people. The poem was paid for and published soon after. I presume it is regarded as genuine poetry in the collected poems of its author.”

Her words would seem to apply to “Ulalume,” but the poem did not appear in the Whig Review until the last of 1847. It may be possible that Mrs. Gove-Nichols had her dates mixed up.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 185:]


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 186:]

1Printed, with the following note in the Southern Literary Messenger of July, 1836: “Letter To B—— These detached passages form part of the preface to a small volume printed some years ago for private circulation. They have vigor and much originality — but of course we shall not be called upon to endorse all the writer's opinions. — ED.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 215:]

1And the angel Israfel, who has the sweetest voice of all God's creatures. [[Poe's note]]



In the present text, the additional note for sources has been inserted from Whitty's 1917 list of corrections, to which it is linked.

Every attempt has been made to at least somewhat honor the nature of Whitty's formatting of this material, but it must be noted that he is quite inconsistent and precise imitation has not always been practical.



[S:0 - JHW11, 1911] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Notes and Variorum Text (Part 01) (ed. J. H. Whitty, 1911)