by Edgar Allan Poe
1. "The Raven" was first published on the 29th January, 1845, in the New
York "Evening Mirror"-a paper its author was then assistant editor of. It
was prefaced by the following words, understood to have been written by N.
P. Willis:"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 subtle 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." In the February number of the
"American Review" the poem was published as by "Quarles," and it was
introduced by the following note, evidently suggested if not written by
["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-appears 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, having 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-mostly the second in
the verse" (stanza?) --"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 besides, gives the versification an entirely different
effect. We could wish the capacities of our noble language in prosody were
better understood." --ED. "Am. Rev."
2. The bibliographical history of "The Bells" is curious. The subject, and
some lines of the original version, having been suggested by the poet's
friend, Mrs. Shew, Poe, when he wrote out the first draft of the poem,
headed it, "The Bells, By Mrs. M. A. Shew." This draft, now the editor's
property, consists of only seventeen lines, and read thus:
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 !
In the autumn of 1848 Poe added another line to this poem, and sent it to
the editor of the "Union Magazine." It was not published. So, in the
following February, the poet forwarded to the same periodical a much
enlarged and altered transcript. Three months having elapsed without
publication, another revision of the poem, similar to the current version,
was sent, and in the following October was published in the "Union
3. This poem was first published in Colton's "American Review" for
December, 1847, as "To - Ulalume: a Ballad." Being reprinted immediately
in the "Home Journal," it was copied into various publications with the
name of the editor, N. P. Willis, appended, and was ascribed to him. When
first published, it contained the following additional stanza which Poe
subsequently, at the suggestion of Mrs. Whitman, wisely suppressed:
Said we then-we two, tben-"Ah, can it
Have been that the woodlandish ghouls--
The pitiful, the merciful ghouls--
To bar up our path and to ban it
From the secret that lies in these wolds--
Had drawn up the spectre of a planet
From the limbo of lunary souls--
This sinfully scintillant planet
From the Hell of the planetary souls?"
4. "To Helen!' (Mrs. S. Helen Whitman) was not published until November,
1848, although written several months earlier. It first appeared in the
"Union Magazine," and with the omission, contrary to the knowledge or
desire of Poe, of the line, "Oh, Godl oh, Heaven-how my heart beats in
coupling those two words."
5. "Annabel Lee" was written early in 1849, and is evidently an expression
of the poet's undying love for his deceased bride, although at least one
of his lady admirers deemed it a response to her admiration. Poe sent a
copy of the ballad to the "Union Magazine," in which publication it
appeared in January, 1850, three months after the author's death. While
suffering from "hope deferred" as to its fate, Poe presented a copy of
"Annabel Lee" to the editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger," who
published it in the November number of his periodical, a month after Poe's
death. In the meantime the poet's own copy, left among his papers, passed
into the hands of the person engaged to edit his works, and he quoted the
poem in an obituary of Poe, in the New York "Tribune," before any one else
had an opportunity of publishing it.
6. "A Valentine," one of three poems addressed to Mrs. Osgood, appears to
have been written early in 1846.
7. "An Enigma," addressed to Mrs. Sarah Anna Lewis ("Stella"), was sent to
that lady in a letter, in November, 1847, and the following March appeared
in Sartain's "Union Magazine."
8. The sonnet, "To My Mother" (Maria Clemm), was sent for publication to
the short-lived "Flag of our Union," early in 1849,' but does not appear
to have been issued until after its author's death, when it appeared in
the "Leaflets of Memory" for 1850.
9. "For Annie" was first published in the "Flag of our Union," in the
spring of 1849. Poe, annoyed at some misprints in this issue, shortly
afterwards caused a corrected copy to be inserted in the "Home Journal."
10. "To F-- --" (Frances Sargeant Osgood) appeared in the "Broadway
journal" for April, 1845. These lines are but slightly varied from those
inscribed "To Mary," in the "Southern Literary Messenger" for July, 1835,
and subsequently republished, with the two stanzas transposed, in
"Graham's Magazine" for March, 1842, as "To One Departed."
11. "To F-- --s S. O--d," a portion of the poet's triune tribute to Mrs.
Osgood, was published in the "Broadway Journal" for September, 1845. The
earliest version of these lines appeared in the "Southern Literary
Messenger" for September, 1835, as "Lines written in an Album," and was
addressed to Eliza White, the proprietor's daughter. Slightly revised, the
poem reappeared in Burton's "Gentleman's Magazine" for August, 1839, as
12. Although "Eldorado" was published during Poe's lifetime, in 1849, in
the "Flag of our Union," it does not appear to have ever received the
author's finishing touches.
AH broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll! - a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear? - weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read - the funeral song be sung! -
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young -
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.
"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her 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
"By you - by yours, the evil eye, - by yours, the slanderous tongue
"That did to death the innocent that died, and died so young?"
Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel so wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride -
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes -
The life still there, upon her hair - the death upon her eyes.
"Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
"But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean 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 damned 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."