Poe's Poetry

Notes to the Poems of Youth

30. On the "Poems written in Youth" little comment is needed. This section includes the pieces printed for the first volume of 1827 (which was subsequently suppressed), such poems from the first and second published volumes of 1829 and 1831 as have not already been given in their revised versions, and a few others collected from various sources.

"Al Aaraaf" first appeared, with the sonnet "To Silence" prefixed to it, in 1829, and is, substantially, as originally issued. In the edition for 1831, however, this poem, its author's longest, was introduced by the following twenty-nine lines, which have been omitted in all subsequent collections:


Mysterious star!

Thou wert my dream

All a long summer night -

Be now my theme!

By this clear stream,

Of thee will I write;

Meantime from afar

Bathe me in light!

Thy world has not the dross of ours,

Yet all the beauty - all the flowers

That list our love or deck our bowers

In dreamy gardens, where do lie

Dreamy maidens all the day;

While the silver winds of Circassy

On violet couches faint away.

Little - oh! little dwells in thee

Like unto what on earth we see:

Beauty's eye is here the bluest

In the falsest and untruest -

On the sweetest air doth float

The most sad and solemn note -

If with thee be broken hearts,

Joy so peacefully departs,

That its echo still doth dwell,

Like the murmur in the shell.

Thou! thy truest type of grief

Is the gently falling leaf -

Thou! thy framing is so holy

Sorrow is not melancholy.

31. The earliest version of "Tamerlane" was included in the suppressed volume of 1827, but differs very considerably from the poem as now published. The present draft, besides innumerable verbal alterations and improvements upon the original, is more carefully punctuated, and, the lines being indented, presents a more pleasing appearance, to the eye at least.

32. "To Helen" first appeared in the 1831 volume, as did also "The Valley of Unrest" (as "The Valley Nis"), "Israfel," and one or two others of the youthful pieces.

The poem styled "Romance" constituted the Preface of the 1829 volume, but with the addition of the following lines:

Succeeding years, too wild for song,

Then rolled like tropic storms along,

Where, though the garish lights that fly

Dying along the troubled sky,

Lay bare, through vistas thunder-riven,

The blackness of the general Heaven,

That very blackness yet doth fling

Light on the lightning's silver wing.

For being an idle boy lang syne,

Who read Anacreon and drank wine,

I early found Anacreon rhymes

Were almost passionate sometimes -

And by strange alchemy of brain

His pleasures always turned to pain -

His naivete to wild desire -

His wit to love - his wine to fire -

And so, being young and dipt in folly,

I fell in love with melancholy.

And used to throw my earthly rest

And quiet all away in jest -

I could not love except where Death

Was mingling his with Beauty's breath -

Or Hymen, Time, and Destiny,

Were stalking between her and me.

But now my soul hath too much room -

Gone are the glory and the gloom -

The black hath mellow'd into gray,

And all the fires are fading away.

My draught of passion hath been deep -

I revell'd, and I now would sleep -

And after drunkenness of soul

Succeeds the glories of the bowl -

An idle longing night and day

To dream my very life away.

But dreams - of those who dream as I,

Aspiringly, are damned, and die:

Yet should I swear I mean alone,

By notes so very shrilly blown,

To break upon Time's monotone,

While yet my vapid joy and grief

Are tintless of the yellow leaf -

Why not an imp the greybeard hath,

Will shake his shadow in my path -

And e'en the greybeard will o'erlook

Connivingly my dreaming-book.