To Edgar Allan Poe
Poems (Houghton, Osgood and Company) 1879
Raven, from the dim dominions
On the Night’s Plutonian shore,
Oft I hear thy dusky pinions
Wave and flutter round my door—
See the shadow of thy pinions
Float along the moon-lit floor;
Often, from the oak-woods glooming
Round some dim ancestral tower,
In the lurid distance looming—
Some high solitary tower—
I can hear thy storm-cry booming
Through the lonely midnight hour.
When the moon is at the zenith.
Thou dost haunt the moated hall.
Where the marish flower greeneth
O’er the waters, like a pall—
Where the House of Usher leaneth.
Darkly nodding to its fall:
There I see thee, dimly gliding,—
See thy black plumes waving slow,—
In its hollow casements hiding,
When their shadow yawns below.
To the sullen tarn confiding
The dark secrets of their woe:—
See thee, when the stars are burning
In their cressets, silver clear,—
When Ligeia’s spirit yearning
For the earth-life, wanders near,—
When Morella’s soul returning,
Weirdly whispers ‘‘I am here.”
Once, within a realm enchanted.
On a far isle of the seas,
By unearthly visions haunted,
By unearthly melodies.
Where the evening sunlight slanted
Golden through the garden trees,—
Where the dreamy moonlight dozes.
Where the early violets dwell.
Listening to the silver closes
Of a lyric loved too well.
Suddenly, among the roses.
Like a cloud, thy shadow fell.
Once, where Ulalume lies sleeping,
Hard by Auber’s haunted mere,
With the ghouls a vigil keeping,
On that night of all the year.
Came thy sounding pinions, sweeping
Through the leafless woods of Weir
Oft, with Proserpine I wander
On the Night’s Plutonian shore.
Hoping, fearing, while I ponder
On thy loved and lost Lenore—
On the demon doubts that sunder
Soul from soul for evermore;
Trusting, though with sorrow laden,
That when life’s dark dream is o’er,
By whatever name the maiden
Lives within thy mystic lore,
Eiros, in that distant Aidenn,
Shall his Charmion meet once more.
Asked to write a poem for a Valentine’s Day party in 1848, Sarah Helen Whitman wrote one to Poe, whom she had not, at that point, met (though he had seen her, whilst walking with another lady, Frances Sargent Osgood, who offered to introduce them, though Poe declined). Poe later heard about the valentine, and sent Whitman his poem “To Helen”, though she did not reply (perhaps not realising who it was from), until he sent her another, more personal poem, also called “To Helen”, describing how he saw her in the rose garden behind her house. The two later became engaged, but Poe did not like Whitman’s friends, and broke his vow to her to remain sober during their engagement, as well as apparently continuing to court other women. Whitman’s valentine was published in her book Poems as “The Raven”.
Return to the Quaint and Curious index for more pastiches and parodies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.