Poe's Poetry

An Enigma (1848)

A riddle poem in a modified sonnet form, "An Enigma" was published in March 1848 in the Union Magazine of Literature and Art under its original simple title "Sonnet." Its new title was attached by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Its lines conceal an anagram with the name Sarah Anna Lewis (also known as "Stella"). Lewis was an amateur poet who met Poe shortly after the death of his wife Virginia while he lived in Fordham, New York. Lewis's husband paid Poe $100 to write a review of Sarah's work. That review appeared in the September 1848 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger. Marie Louise Shew (Virginia's one-time volunteer nurse, of sorts) later said that Poe called Lewis a "fat, gaudily-dressed woman." Poe's biographer, Arthur Hobson Quinn, called "An Enigma" "one of Poe's feeblest poems".[14]


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