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Friday, March 31, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Eight, in which the Poem of the Month is featured

Literary Vamp recently confessed to craving the approval of Edgar Allan Poe. The Master of Mourning was orphaned at age three, and dead at age forty. Though he is best remembered as an author of classic creepy short stories, he also wrote poetry, of which "The Raven" is most famous, and oft-quoted. One of our favorite works is "Ligeia", a story typically of death, grief, and a revenant.

Just the other day arrived from Bookins (the joys of which are outlined in the sorrowful Chapter One Hundred Three) a first edition of Kenneth Silverman's Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. Dipping in at various places, we were reminded of Poe's poesy, and chose one representative of his style and subject matter.


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 nevermore!
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 innocence 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 no wrong.
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy
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! avaunt! 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
Let no bell toll, then,- lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth!
And I!- to-night my heart is light!- no dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!"


  1. Poe has been a favorite of mine since a young age. I first saw a production of The Tell-Tale Heart in 5th grade, and we had to memorize Annabel Lee when I was in 7th grade, and it's never left me. I now regret that I never made it to Richmond to see his former home. I lived in NC and it wouldn't have been a terribly long trip. Silly me.

  2. When I was in 7th grade (me too! me too!), I somehow unearthed a leather-bound volume of Poe's collected works. Every page was lined in, what I perceived then to be, gold. I was in love. I memorized his poetry, I spoke often of his short stories, and I delved into much research on his life, his processes and, of course, the darkness that is Poe. In short, I really freaked my parents out. But I do love a good Poe poem. He's so....over the top, yet so firmly so that you must sit back in awe.

    Thanks for a lovely trip to 7th grade and back again!

  3. His writing is wonderfully gothic. You both must be precocious--most children don't become fascinated by such morbid things until their teens.

  4. Poe always gives me the giggles, I don't know why. I guess because I can't stop thinking how great they would sound set to bluegrass tunes, with a little banjo accompaniment.

  5. Poe was one of the first to write detective stories and a top-drawer literary editor and book reviewer. He always wanted to own a literary journal. Never did. But he, as editor of a few, took them to the top of the heap. He lived was one of saddest lives of our literary greats. And great he was.