The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: poe

“Ulalume” by Edgar Allan Poe

Not to be a cliché blogger, but I feel Poe is the perfect poet to turn to for this spooky day. Thus, I re-post and present my favorite Poe poem, and bid you all a Happy Halloween! Also, fun fact—editor Rufus Griswold omitted the last stanza from his complete works of Poe. I wonder if it was simply because the bit puzzled him? (I think I’ll explore this in a later post.)

Ulalume
Edgar Allan Poe

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
Our memories were treacherous and sere,—
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)—
We noted not the dim lake of Auber
(Though once we had journeyed down here)—
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent
And star-dials pointed to morn—
As the star-dials hinted of morn—
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn—
Astarte’s bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said: “She is warmer than Dian;
She rolls through an ether of sighs—
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
To point us the path to the skies—
To the Lethean peace of the skies—
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes—
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes.”

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said: “Sadly this star I mistrust—
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Ah, hasten! —ah, let us not linger!
Ah, fly! —let us fly! -for we must.”
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings until they trailed in the dust—
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust—
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied: “This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic splendour is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty tonight!—
See!—it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright—
We safely may trust to a gleaming,
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom—
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the door of a tomb—
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said: “What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?”
She replied: “Ulalume -Ulalume—
‘Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere—
As the leaves that were withering and sere;
And I cried: “It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed—I journeyed down here!—
That I brought a dread burden down here—
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon hath tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber—
This misty mid region of Weir—
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

Said we, then—the two, then—”Ah, can it
Have been that the woodlandish ghouls—
The pitiful, the merciful ghouls—
To bar up our way and to ban it
From the secret that lies in these wolds—
From the thing that lies hidden 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?”

 

Happy Birthday, Charles Fenno Hoffman!

Today is the Birthday of one of my favorite nineteenth century writers, Charles Fenno Hoffman.

Charles_Fenno_Hoffman

In honor of his Birthday today, I thought I’d add a quick blurb about him before sharing a couple of his poems.

Born in New York, February 7, 1806, he grew up in a “socially and politically prominent” household with parents Joseph Ogden and Maria Fenno Hoffman (Barnes 17).

At eighteen, he had nearly completed studies at Columbia College and began studying law. At twenty-one, he was admitted to the bar. He abandoned law for writing, however, and wrote anonymously for the New York American (456). In 1835, he published his first book, A Winter in the West, a two-part book documenting his travels from New York to St. Louis. This was significant as it was one of the most complete works documenting travels this way, especially as far as St. Louis, Missouri. His second work, Wild Scenes in the Forest and Prairie, was published in 1837, which was followed by his most notable novel, Greyslaer, in 1840 (457). Hoffman was the founder of the Knickerbocker magazine, edited for the New York Mirror, and in 1843 published The Vigil of Faith, a book of poetry (457).

In 1849, he “went insane,” which was an oh-so very nice way of saying he was manic depressive. He was admitted permanently to the Harrisburg State Hospital in Pennsylvania, where he remained until his death on June 7, 1884.

Despite his condition, Hoffman was known to many friends for being genial and good-natured. According to an account by William Keese, he is described as follows:

He was a general favorite in society, and his wit, bright intelligence, and genial manners, made his companionship very attractive. He was loved by the young, for he sympathized with them in their sports and enthusiasms, and from his knowledge of nature and his own adventurous experience drew the stories that take children captive. He was a gallant and noble gentleman, and a wide circle of friends mourned the affliction that befell him (Lamb 152).

He was perseverant, compassionate, honorable, and loyal. He was close to the anthologist and Edgar Allan Poe’s defamer, Rufus Griswold, and was even deeply in love at one point in his life. His poetry documents the turmoils of love and rejection, the beauty of nature and afflictions of growing up. In one poem, which I am going to post below, written on his 25th Birthday, Hoffman recollects his life up until that point and bemoans himself for his lack of accomplishments:

Birthday Thoughts
by Charles Fenno Hoffman

At twenty-five — at twenty-five,
The heart should not be cold;
It still is young in deeds to strive,
Though half life’s tale be told;
And Fame should keep its youth alive,
If Love would make it old.

But mine is like that plant which grew
And wither’d in a night,
Which from the skies of midnight drew
Its ripening and its blight —
Matured in Heaven’s tears of dew,
And faded ere her light.

Its hues, in sorrow’s darkness born,
In tears were foster’d first;
Its powers, from passion’s frenzy drawn,
In passion’s gloom were nurs’d —
And perishing ere manhood’s dawn,
Did prematurely burst.

Yet all I’ve learnt from hours rife
With painful brooding here
Is that, amid this mortal strife,
The lapse of every year
But takes away a hope from life,
And adds to death a fear.

(Source.)

Was this man truly unaccomplished? I do not think so. He was strong-willed, intelligent, and is remembered by any and all who happen to stumble upon his writings. (So, basically, I pretty much love this guy, so I’m pretty biased with most of what was said in this post. Whoops.)

Poems Attributed to Poe (that aren’t his.)

Earlier this afternoon, I discovered some poems of Poe’s that I had never read!

Actually, the iPhone app “Time Hop” oh so kindly took me back to a Facebook status where I had quoted a Poe poem called “The Village Street.” Not recognizing the poem, I immediately did a search to see where in the name of Davy Jones I had found this poem. Upon finding the poem in question, I found three others which were attributed to Poe, all listed on this website. Being that they were unsigned by his name, and after reading through them, I became skeptical and went to researching the man (or woman) behind the name of A. M. Ide.

As I read through the poems, they seemed to resemble Poe’s flourishing language…a watered down version of his language, with great redundancy, mind you. The rhythm seemed off to me as well, so I thought surely these couldn’t be his poems!

It was a tricky investigation, as bits of certain poems honestly do resemble Poe’s style, if even a little. “The Village Street” reminded me of imagery found in “Ulalume.” “The Forest Reverie” had meter which seemed reminiscent of Poe’s style. “Annette” struck me as being just another poem written for some other love interest in Edgar’s life (or even a coverup name for Osgood, as the poem was written in 1845, around the time he would have had the tryst with Osgood). And it was through this poem that I found my answers.

Certain words and a particular line in the poem led me on to investigating in my “Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe” book by Thomas Ollive Mabbott. The descriptions of “violet eyes” and the specific line, “Of the golden-haired–the violet-eyed,” reminded me of Poe’s “Eulalie,” being the line, “Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride,” and the line, “While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.” Consulting the book, I found the explanation that Mabbott gave in regards to the origin of the poem and who it may have been written for. Interestingly enough, there is a theory that the name Eulalie was inspired by a poem called “Isadore,” by Albert Pike, which begins with descriptions of vines. Looking back at the poem “To Isadore,” which was supposedly ascribed to Poe, there is great imagery involving vines, which occur in the first few lines, as it also did in the first few lines of Pike’s poem.

Surely, thought I, surely “To Isadore” must be Poe’s poem! Not too long after this connection did I see a footnote in the back, leading me to a page with a brief explanation of these four specific poems. This is where my skepticism rang true. “Four poems signed ‘A. M. Ide’ were published in the Broadway Journal in 1845. John H. Ingram thought ‘A. M. Ide’ might be a pen name of Poe, and reprinted three of these four poems as possibly Poe’s in The Complete Poetical Works…of Edgar Allan Poe (1888)–but Abijah M. Ide was a young New Englander who corresponded with Poe…” and thus these are his poems (Mabbott 509).

And there we go. The mystery has been solved, and Poe truly did not write these poems. What irks me is the number of eBooks and Poe anthologies that came up in my search who are including these poems in their collections, falsely claiming the poems as Poe’s. Before assuming things like this, please, please do your research.

Sweet Caroline

CarolineSearlesGriswold
Caroline F. Griswold, née Searles, was the quiet, humble wife of Reverend Rufus Wilmot Griswold. The daughter of sea captain Edward Searles and, then, Eliabeth Searles, the family was a wealthy family from Long Island. The family prospered due to their father’s business as a ship owner, sailing to ports and bringing rich cargoes back to his warehouses. It is said he “died of a broken spirit,” and his death resulted in the family moving to New York. Her mother was able to support her daughter Caroline, and son Randolph Searles, from proceeds of a local boardinghouse (Hatvary, Bayless 15). After the death of her first husband, Elizabeth remarried John Angell, who also passed, however she kept the last name Angell and thus became Elizabeth Angell (Bayless 15).

Not a lot is known about Caroline’s childhood and teenage years, however we do know she was described as a “quiet, devoted girl,” who, on one fateful March evening, caught the heart of Rufus Griswold. Griswold and Marcus Butler, a fellow employee of his at Harpers, were attempting to escape a downpour when they found themselves in the home of Mrs. Angell at 51 ½ Clinton Street, where Butler was well known. Griswold was introduced to Randolph Searles (then about 26) and the nineteen-year-old Caroline. “This beautiful girl, with her dark, shy eyes and her glossy auburn hair, immediately became the center of Griswold’s world; and he learned later that from the moment she saw him her heart was his” (Bayless 15).

Upon their first meeting, a love story began to develop between the two, and Griswold frequently visited the Searles home. “The self-styled hermit soon abandoned his somber robe and donned the habit of a gay, entertaining man of the world, whose colorful tales of his adventures enlivened the household” (Bayless 16). He even performed “Zip Coon” for the family, accompanied with a dance whilst singing. (You can listen to this song here.)

Caroline would not see Griswold once more, after his leave of New York, until around 1836, where he left his paper, The Olean Advocate, to return to Caroline, who he had not forgotten nor had stopped thinking about.

He confessed his love to her, finding she loved him from their first meeting, and the couple wedded March 20(also stated elsewhere as being on the 19th), 1837. “…Griswold, romanticizing himself into the rôle of tragic outcast rescued from his exile by a good angel, was happier than he had ever been in his life” (Passages, Bayless 16). After their wedding, the couple moved in with her family at 51 ½ Clinton Street. Rufus adored her with all of his being, and “…as his practical, sensible wife, she furnished the wheel which for five years was to stabilize his life” (16, 21). At the end of that year, he was licensed to preach, and it is said Griswold’s literary interests superseded his religious interests (Hatvary). Perhaps Caroline motivated, influenced, or inspired him to become a reverend?

By 1837, Caroline was expecting their first child, and was left in the care of her mother while Griswold was off doing business in Vergennes, Vermont. February 12, 1838, their first daughter, Emily Elizabeth, was born. Caroline, three months later, joined her husband in Vergennes. They arrived to a rented, incomplete brick house, and were transferred to the village inn temporarily. Caroline only wanted to live comfortably in her own home and take care of the family income, rather than associate with the overwhelming fashionable citizens also boarding at the inn. Rufus fit in with this scene, however Caroline did not, nor did she seem to enjoy it (Bayless 25). Although pleased with her husband’s success there, she did “have to exert herself a little too much to play the lady.” Caroline was practical, whereas Rufus was impulsive. She loved her husband and supported him, regardless, and was a proud wife. The family moved into their home a week later, where they settled very well (Bayless 26).

In 1840, their second child, Caroline, was born, and by 1841, Rufus was commuting back and forth between Philadelphia and New York, where Caroline and the girls lived. “As often as possible Griswold went to New York to see them, for he loved his wife and children dearly and disliked being separated from them” (32, 37).

Griswold was described as being erratic, colorful, and pampered, and Caroline’s family seemed to accept him—nay, tolerate him. Caroline and Griswold never owned a house of their own for every time Griswold attempted to put money away to save for a home, he would take it back and purchase little gifts for Caroline, who was appreciative of them nevertheless (51). For example, he had an original manuscript of “The Spanish Student” by Longfellow bound and gifted to Caroline for her autograph collection (57).

Caroline was said to wait for Griswold late at night for his arrival back home, with a meal and often a song to sing while he ate. “Often when she left the room he would almost involuntarily give thanks to God for such a blessing” (52).  Despite Griswold’s commuting and rather flamboyant behavior, Caroline loved her husband all the same, and quite dearly at that.

He once again left his family, and not thinking it suitable for Caroline and the girls to tag along with him, he left them behind. A third child was expected that autumn as well, so the travel and readjusting to a new city would have strained Caroline. Thus the commuting recommenced (52).

Griswold rejoined his family numerous times throughout summer and early autumn, and their son was born November, 1842. On the sixth day of November, he returned to Philadelphia for work, and all seemed well.

Three days later, Rufus received news while dining at the Jones Hotel, that his wife and newborn son were dead.

Taken from

“Universalist Union, Volume 8, pg.16”

Grief stricken and completely and utterly distraught, Rufus fled to his wife on the night train to New York, and stayed by his wife’s coffin for thirty hours, adamantly refusing to leave her side. He kissed her cold lips and embraced her, as his two little children clung to him and cried for their mother (64).

That midnight, Griswold wrote to his friend Fields,

You knew her my friend—she was my good angel—she was the first to lead me from a cheerless, lonely life, to society…She was not only the best of wives, but the best of mothers. You have seen our dear children—she taught them as children are rarely taught, and when she went her way they were left by her at the feet of Christ, at the very gate of heaven…They will bury her then [11:00 that day]—bury my dear Caroline and my child from my sight!…then I must set about tearing up the foundations of my home. Alas for me, I shall never more have a home to fly to in my sorrows—never more a comforter in my afflictions—never more a partner to share in all my woes or to be a source and author of all my pleasures…May God forever keep you from all such sorrow—farewell (65).

The funeral was held November 11, and the procession was moved to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. According to Bayless, “When the body was placed in the tomb, Griswold uttered a shriek, fell upon the coffin, and burst into agonized weeping” (65). Those standing by, including Hamilton Randolph Searles and his wife, gently urged him to leave the tomb. After seeing they could not ease the reverend’s throbbing heart, they left him to make peace with Caroline’s death. Captain Waring, Caroline’s uncle, finally had to pry Rufus from her grave, stating, “In Heaven’s name, Rufus, have done with this nonsense and come along home with me,” to which Rufus obliged and followed (65).

The night after Caroline’s death, Rufus wrote a poem, “Five Days,” to release more grievous feelings, which was printed anonymously in The New-York Tribune for November 16, 1842. You can view the poem, so graciously discovered and transcribed by a man whose name I shall protect, here.

Forty days after Caroline’s death, Griswold, still completely beside himself, escaped to her tomb once more. Below is the following account as stated by him:

I could not think that my dear wife was dead. I dreamed night after night of our reunion. In a fit of madness I went to New York. The vault where she is sleeping is nine miles from the city. I went to it: the sexton unclosed it: and I went down alone into that silent chamber. I kneeled by her side and prayed, and then, with my own hand, unfastened the coffin lid, turned aside the drapery that hid her face, and saw the terrible changes made by Death and Time. I kissed for the last time her cold black forehead—I cut off locks of her beautiful hair, damp with the death dews, and sunk down in senseless agony beside the ruin of all that was dearest in the world. In the evening, a friend from the city, who had learned where I was gone, found me there, my face still resting on her own, and my body as lifeless and cold as that before me. In all this I know I have acted against reason; but as I look back upon it it seems that I have been influenced by some power too strong to be opposed. Through the terrible scenes of the week I have been wonderfully calm, and my strength has not failed me, though it is long sine I have slept. It is four o’clock in the morning—I am alone—in the house that while my angel was by my side was the scene of happiness too great to be surpassed even in heaven. I go forth today a changed man. I realize at length that she is dead. I turn my gaze from the past to the future (67).

Weeks, months, and years passed with Caroline still remaining an aching memory in his heart. He questioned God, he blamed God, and his faith was ultimately shaken after her death. How could a just God take his angel away from him? He believed it was the result of God’s punishment, but despite how Griswold yearned to end this suffering, he knew he must continue on, if even only for his two girls (then three and five). Never again would he feel the same compassion from his darling, however, never again the same love and tenderness from a woman, his angel sent from God.
The world lost a mother, a devoted child of the Lord, and a faithful, adoring wife. For Griswold, his world had fallen completely apart, may have changed for the worse, and ultimately for him, and the rest of society who knew her well, “It was one thing to theorize and theologize; it was another to live without Caroline” (67).

A Fragment-By William Henry Leonard Poe

[ORIGINAL]
A FRAGMENT.

Well! I have determined–lightly it may be–but when there is nothing to live for–nothing that the heart craves anxiously and devotedly, life is but a kind of prison house from which we would be freed.

I feel even at this moment a something of impatience to know what death is–and although I am now writing the very last words this band will ever trace–yet even the outward show–the trifles of the world beguile me–

The ink is not good–I have stirred it–’tis better now, and I have mended my pen–’tis disagreeable, even if it is our very last letter, to write with a band pen–a blot!–I must erase it–this when an hour will finish my existence!–an existence of wretchedness–one of weary, bitter disappointment.

I feel as if hungry, and suddenly a sumptuous feast before me–surfeiting myself–revelling in my thoughts–indulging in what I have been afraid to think of–I have but a short hour to live, and the ticking of the clock before me, seems a laughing spectator of my death–I wish it had life–it would not then be so gay–nay, it might be a partner of my melancholy.

Pshaw! this pen–surely my hand must have trembled when I made it–I have held it up to the light–Heavens’ my hand does tremble–No! tis only the flickering of the lamp.

It will–at least it may be asked, why I have done this–they ay say I was insane–the body which is earthed cannot feel their taunts, and the soul cares not.

I have a strange wish even at this time–it is that some maiden would plant flowers on my grave–which my mortality would add life to.

When there is no hope–no cheering prospect to brighten, no land to mark the bewildered scaman’s way–why not try death?

“And come it slow or come it fast,
It is but death that comes at last.”

There are many who would rather linger in a life of wretchedness, disappointment–and other causes which blight many a youthful heart, and make ruin and desolation in the warmest feelings–yes! even the lip must smile and the eye be gay–although whne night brings us to our couch we unconsciously wish it was for the last time.

Such is man–such is mankind!–I have still one half hour to live–one half hour!–yet I look around me as if it was the journey of a day, and not an eternal adieu!–Why should I live? Delighting in one object, and she

“The fairest flow’r that glittered on a stem
To wither at my grasp.”

No more–the pistol–I have loaded it–the balls are new–quite bright–they will soon be in my heart–Incomprehensible death–what art thou?

I have put the pistol to my bosom–it snapped–I had forgotten to prime it–I must do it–

In the act of doing so it went off, and I awoke and found myself rolling on the floor, having fallen from my bed in the agitation of a most strange and singular dream.

W. H. P.

(*Transcribed while watching Plain Jane. Thought you all might like to know. This was posted, as requested, for a dear friend of mine. I quite liked this piece.)