The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: writer

Rufus Griswold’s “Five Days”

I figured that, rather than writing a long post discussing this man now, I would share a snippet of information and poem and call it quits for the day.

For starters, Griswold was Edgar Poe’s rival and enemy–don’t worry, the feelings were mutual. In fact, Griswold went on to destroy Edgar’s reputation after Poe’s death, and said rumors stated in the infamous obituary written by Sir Griswold continue on to this day. I digress, as this isn’t about their feud.

Despite the fact that this gentleman was sometimes cruel, Griswold had redeeming qualities; specifically being that after his wife Caroline’s death, Rufus stayed faithfully by her casket as it was being delivered by train, and neither slept nor left her side for thirty hours. There was another occurrence, thirty days after her burial, in which he stayed by her side, once again weeping profusely for a second go of thirty hours. At this point, a friend had to seize the man and urge him away from her corpse.

Thus, with this meager bit of information above, written to provide some vague context, I present, below, a poem written by Griswold after Caroline’s death. I hope you all enjoy. It is long, however it is worth the read.

FIVE DAYS.

We parted as the day drew near its end.
The rose of health was on her beauteous cheeks.
Her quenchless love beamed sadly from her eyes,
And when I prayed that Heaven would preserve us,
She joined, with tears, as if some dreadful signal
Had gleamed upon her from another world.
“My love—my wife!” “Dear husband, may God bless you!”
And then we kissed each other fervently,
And I commended her to Him again
Who is the Friend of all who are in sorrow,
And promised quickly to come back to her.
A new embrace—oh God! how ardent was it!—
And then I tore myself from her dear arms,
With passionate kisses, and hot, streaming tears.
I looked back from the window of my carriage.
Her heavenly eyes were watching my departure,
With such unutterably deep affection
That when the winding street did hide her from me,
It seemed as if the stars were blotted out.
As if the holy angels veiled their faces,
As if God had withdrawn His high support.

The third day came, and I, afar from her,
Sat with my gay companions at the board.
The jest went round, the merry laugh rung out.
No thought of sorrow made a bright eye dim—
It was the end of human life to me;
My other days are but a lingering death.

The bell sounds quick—my name is in the hall—
A messenger is there to summon me
From festive scenes unto the charnel-house!
His errand is not spoken, nor do eyes
Import the dreadful sentence to my mind.
But the air changes, and my sight grows dim,
While some invisible being brands the tidings
Deep on my heart, Henceforth thou art alone!

As the dawn broke into her silent chamber,
Around her bed were gathered a few friends,
Waiting the moment of her soul’s departure.
She looked about her for one far away.
In her delirium she had cried for him,–
The partner of her young and happy years!
But now the seal of death was on her lips,
And she still sought him with her tender eyes,
Which shone with dazzling and supernal brightness.
What tongue can tell the agony she felt
When other forms approached her dying bed,
And he came not—the chosen of her soul!

The iron steeds that night flew swiftly onward.
The stars were veiled, the moon refused to shine,
A black eclipse was on the face of nature.
The outer and the inner world were darkened.
Before the midnight we had met again!
The living and the dead were locked together,
Not in the cruel Tuscan’s loathed embrace,
But with love stronger than Mezentius’ steel.

I knelt beside you all the long drear night.
I kissed with agony your marble brow.
And though your old companions turned away
Oh, dearest, from your cold and faded form,
Death could not make it terrible to me.
Although the blackness of too quick decay
Began to overspread your beauteous cheeks,
And your sweet lips were colorless and cold,
And the dull lustre of your straining eyes
Did fall like mildew on my anguished heart,
Could I forget that roses here had bloomed?
That these to mine had been so often pressed?
That these had beamed such tender love on me?
Oh, those mild eyes! their lids were still half-parted.
And you seem’d, dear one, striving to unclose them,
To give assurance by their gentle glances
That e’en in death I still was loved by you.

When my head rested on your icy temples
Their very coldness warmed my brain to phrenzy.
I called upon you, dearest, in my madness,
To break the fetters in which death had bound you,
To look into my eyes, to glad my ears
With the sweet melody of your dear voice,
Saying you loved me and forgave my errors.
I cried, oh heart, unto whose quick pulsations
I’d listened in so many a sorrowing hour
Until your turbulent motion brought me peace,
“Awake! beat on! the river of my tears
Again doth wet the drapery about thee!”
But cold, all cold, and silent as the statue
That has reclined o’er death a thousand years!

Then I would gaze on you, and round your coffin,
Oh, dear one, clasp my arms, in wretchedness,
And kiss you with hot lips, and cry to God
To let you come, in mercy, back to me.
And seeing tears upon your cheeks and eyes,
I deemed my prayer was heard, and laughed aloud,
And shouted, in my joy, my thanks to Heaven.
But when my reason was once more in action,
And I perceived those waters had but fallen
From the hot fountain struggling in my brain,–
Oh, then, in utterness of woe, I died,
And fell beside you in death’s helplessness.
To me came back the life invoked for you.
I had not drained the dregs of suffering
The dread compound of misery and life
Was so commingled in cup for for me.
I could not drink from one without the other,–
And He permits them not to pass from me.

You had no equal in your loving kindness
When you were with me in this cheerless world;
And can it be that your immortal spirit
Feels less of that exalted, deep affection,
That gave your voice on earth its seraph sweetness,
That made your eyes beam with celestial brightness,
The gentle twining of your arms around me
To seem like the embrace of holy angels,
Than while you lingered here on earth among us?
Oh, loved one! in your more exalted virtue
Is there such change made in your very nature
That you can feel no pity for your husband,
Left here alone to die, and not see death?
If a cold word in life did veil my feelings,
And I seemed harsh, or any way unkind,
You now can read my heart’s most secret pages,
And know my love was changeless as’t was fervent.
Have I not drank sufficiently of woe,
Has not my punishment been deep enough,
To win your pardon and your sympathy?
The true, who die in Christ, my faith has taught me
Become the ministers of God to us
Who linger with frail hearts and unchaste passions
In this dark valley of the shade of death.
To whom, Oh holy and immortal being,
Would you return more quickly than to me?
For two long nights have I my vigils kept,
Thinking the living and the dead might meet
Beside the form your mortal life made sacred;
Still praying God that you might visit me,
And you, to manifest your spirit’s presence,
And strained my glazed eyes to see your form
In the cold vacancy that was about me.
You saw my agony, yet would not heal it;
You knew my brain was turned to molten lava,
And would not lay your finger on my brow;
You who once lived but to fulfil my wishes,
And gave fruition ere my hopes were uttered,
Now heard my prayer for one brief word of pardon,
Knowing it would give peace unto my soul,
And yet were silent as the clay before me!

Then I went out to look upon the stars
In hopes to hear their ancient music waken
The holy harmonies that gave to man
Assurance of a more sublime existence,
Where pain and death and mourning could not come.
But they shone coldly on me from their places,
In the far ether, and were still as death.
So I came back, in hopeless agony, 
To cling again unto your senseless clay,
With prayers that as you would not come to me,
I might, without self-murder, fly to thee.

It was the evening of a day in spring
When first I met her in her quiet home;
Within the street were raging rain and wind,
And the kind shelter that I found beside her,
By some mysterious agency expanded
Over my life and soul, which in the world
Had known no haven from its strifes and storms.
A year passed on, and as the early flowers
Were budding in their beauty, we were wedded.
Strange was the history of our love till then—
I let it linger with her in the tomb,
Where, in my life-time, I am chained to death.
Five winters and six summers have gone by,
Made all one summer by her love and virtue,
And when once more the chill November blasts
Shriek in the skies, God takes her to himself.

I heard the night with solemn pace depart—
A day of gloom, with withered garlands crowned,
Tread on her garments as she moved away.
I gather’d a few autumn flowers for her,
Flowers she had reared with gentlest hand for me,
And placed the parting gift upon her bier.
Her scarce-closed eye still seemed to look at me,
Thanking me kindly for the recollection;
But now no tears gushed out to answer her,
The fountain was dried up, at length, for Hope—
The false wild hope she would come back to me—
Stole in the darkness from my side, and left
But utter hopelessness and desolation.

My children—my poor children!—knelt beside me,
I sever’d from her glossy auburn tresses,
For them and me, a frail memorial,
To wear upon our hearts as a rich treasure,
Until our own times come to leave the world.
They who had known her in her early years,
And kept their feelings fresh in after time,
And some who only knew her as the one
Who was the object of my earthly worship,
Approached to look a last and sad farewell.
Then all kneeled down and heard God’s minister
Rehearse the solemn service for the dead.
And then, oh, dearest, you were veiled forever
From those who loved you and from those you loved.
I gazed with desperate calmness on the scene,
Exhausted was the fountain of my tears.
My heart was crushed by its dread weight of woe.

Out of the city, in a quiet vault,
Where her dead mother had before her gone,
My wife and only son were laid together—
A son of prayers, who looked upon the world,
Raised for a moment to his lips the cup
Which held life’s bitter waters, sat it down,
And unto Heaven returned, pure as he came.
The drapery of death is now about them;
The strifes and tumults of this changing world
Cannot disturb the quiet of their rest.
My heart is with its idol in the coffin,
The darkness of her silent place of sleeping
Pervades for me all time and space herafter.

O God! oh God! I know that Thou art just.
That all Thy judgements are with mercy tempered.
That Thou afflictest not with willingness,
And dost design all sorrows for our good.
But I knew not Thy law in perfectness,
I deemed that she who was but loaned to me,
Was a full gift, and to be mine forever.
I never thought that my sweet guardian angel,
Was here but on a mission to save my soul.
“Thou Lord didst give, and Thou hast ta’en away!”
I strive to add the blessing to Thy name
And from my lips, indeed, the high words fall,
But oh, Thou knowest my human heart
Has not submitted to Thy chastening, Lord!
That I have yet failed in my weak endeavors
To bow in humbleness unto Thy will.
I do beseech Thee who wert man Thyself,
And felt the passions of our mortal nature,
Thou who hast tasted death and all our sorrows
To open for us the barred gates of Heaven,
To show me pity. I would fain deliver
Myself and all I have into Thy hand,
To be dealt with as seemeth good to Thee;
But, Lord, how can I meetly yield so much—
Far more than mine own mortal life to me—
Without the aid of Thy most gracious spirit!
Midnight, Nov. 11, 1842

(Poem taken from this source.)

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Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe

Today marks Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th Birthday. I am so proud and delighted that his legacy continues to live on. He has made such a mark on the world and my heart, and I am grateful each day to have discovered this incredible writer and poet.

Now, to share a couple of his poems that I’ve held dear for a while now—

Ulalume
“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 and 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.”

 

Annabel Lee
A Dream Within A Dream
The Raven
To the River

Poe’s Brother’s Poetry-Extras

I was comparing the poems found in the book source from which I transcribed them from, with the EAPoe.org website, the most prominent Edgar Allan Poe website in my opinion. Below I will link to a list of Henry’s poetry, including poems that were not found in my book which may be read on that webpage. There are three poems, numbers 15, 16, and 18 which are not transcribed on my blog. There are also three poems, 13, 14, and 17 which I cannot find and are not displayed on the website. Please enjoy these extra poems provided by the EAPoe Society online:

Click Here

Poe’s Brother’s Poetry-Part Four-Final

You can view the first three posts here, here, and here.

Let us commence.

[Original.]
WATERS OF LIFE.
There are thoughts so wild in our childhood’s hours,
That they charm the soul in its early dreaming–
We gaze and we clasp life’s with’ring flowers
While joy in our eye is gladly beaming.
Ah little we reek while life’s tide is flowing,
In laughing waves that will break at last,
That all those fond hopes which are fair and glowing,
Will languish and die when our youth is past.
Yes! gaily we sport on life’s sunny sea,
With our oars of Hope in the water splashing–
And gaily is flying life’s brilliant spray
As thro’ the waters we’re madly dashing.
The waters of Life! are they gently stealing,
Or do they come in their sternest power?
Wild’ring the soul with the wildest feeling,
Wearing the heart in its sadden’d hour.

JACOB’S DREAM
Inspir’d by faith’s illuming ray
To seek a home unknown,
Pensive the Patriarch trod his way,
Trusting in God alone.
Full many a wishful look he cast,
The wide, wide world around,
As on in solitude he passed,
Absorb’d in thought profound.
Dim night anon its curtain drew,
Soft slumber lent repose
When straight a figured scale in view,
With awful grandeur rose:
Then he beheld an angel throng
Strew’d o’er the glittering line,
That up and downward pass’d along
On embassies divine.
While yet the mystic pencil wrought
The visionary scene,
The soul new kindling fervours caught–
A glow of joy serene:
Though sunk in deep oblivion’s rest,
Each outward sense enchained,
There sprang an Eden in his breast–
Divine communion reigned.
Ah! why distrustful mortals, why
Renounce celestial care?
The arm that wields yon orbs on high
sustains each atom here!
Sooner shall fail the mother’s heart
Towards the infant son;
Sooner the floods their course depart,
And to their fountains run–
Than the blest streams of heav’nly love
In constant tides to flow,
From their enchantless source above,
To cherish man below!
The sun may set in lasting night,
The changeful moon decay–
And every brilliant star of light,
Fall from its sphere away!
Yet form’d on virtue’s lofty scale
From height to height to soar,
And o’er the grave and death prevail
When time shall be no more.
Still shall the soul’s essential fire
(Spark of the world of mind),
Burn on unquenched, when these expire,
And leave no trace behind.
While measuring out life’s little span
Of sorrows, crosses, joys,
Dispensed in mercy all to man–
And speaking wisdom’s voice.
HIs Maker’s Omnipresent pow’r
And watchful providence,
Are round him every live-long hour,
A succor and defence!
The meek and “contrite heart” he sways
And makes his temple there;
Attunes its trembling chords to praise,
And gratitude, and prayer.
He bids each boisterous tumult cease,
While hope high-winged o’er Time
Life Noah’s dove in search of peace,
Soars to a happier clime.

PSALM 139th
Lord! thou hast searched and scanned me through,
My inmost soul hast open thrown;
Naked I stand before thy yiew(possibly view, I believe this was a typo in the book)–
Each thought far off to thee is known.
My daily paths thou art among–
Around me, where I lay my head;
Thou know’st each word upon my tongue,
And spiest through all the walks I tread.
Filled with abasement and amaze–
Trembling before thee low I bend;
Such knowledge, such mysterious ways
I cannot reach, nor comprehend.
Where from thy presence shall I fly?
And whither from thy spirit go;
If I ascend to heaven on high–
Or make my bed in hell below,
Of if I take the wings of morn,
And dwell amid the utmost sea;
Thou still art there! no distant bourne–
From thy right hand shall set me free!
If of the darkness I should say,
‘Twill surely veil me–lo! the night,
Pierced by the all-pervading ray–
Around me shines with radiant light.
Alike to thee, night’s sable veil,
And the full day’s meridian blaze;
Thou source of light that ne’er shall fail,
And life that knows no end of days!
Thee will I praise–for thou hast joined
Thus fearfully my wondrous frame;
Thy marvellous works, Eternal mind!
All good, thy glorious power proclaim.

*Once again, the question marks are words that I am not able to discern.

**These pieces have been copied out of the book Poe’s Brother, by Hervey Allen and Thomas Ollive Mabbott, copyright 1926, book no. 773/1000.

***I hope you have enjoyed! This is the final installment of his poetry, however I will be posting his stories and reviews soon. Be on the look out!

Poe’s Brother’s Poetry-Part Two

You can check out the first post here.

Now I shall continue my posting of William Henry Leonard Poe’s poetry.

For the North American. 
TO R.
Nay–’tis not so–it cannot be–
Those feelings ne’er will come again;
I gave my heart–my soul to thee,
And madly clasped the burning chain.
‘Tis severe’d now–and like the slave
When freed, will scorn the bars he wore,
And feels he would prefer the grave
Than wear those galling fetters more–
Yet not like him–for memory brings
A tear(?) to joys–to pleasures fled–
A something which still fondly clings–
“‘Tis vainly mourning o’er the dead.”
It cannot be! for pride will now
Relieve the anguish of my heart–
Thy faithless pledge! thy broken vow:
‘Tis fit–’tis meet–that we should part.

[ORIGINAL.]
I’ve lov’d thee–but those hours are past
That bound my heart in woman’s wiles:
I’ve lov’d thee–but my fate is cast–
I trust no more to woman’s smiles.
To give a heart, as true as mine–
A soul,–whose hope was all in thee–
To love,–ay, love–till t’were a crime,
A dream–a madness–phantasy.
Yet still the pride, which once was mine,
Has come with all its force again–
And yet those eyes, those words of thine,
Hath wrung my heart with wildest pain.–
But fare thee well–I tremble not–
‘Tis madness too from thee to part–
To be as lost–as dead–forgot!–
Be still my wayward breaking heart!

[ORIGINAL.]
Scenes of my lore(or love?)! of boyhood’s thoughtless hour!
I bid you now a long, a sad farewell;
Vision of Glory! where is now thy power!
Ah! where the charm that would my bosom swell.
The day of joy is gone, and veil’d the light
That shone on days too bright–too fair to last;–
My life is now a chill and starless night,
And mercury weeps with bitter tears the past.
The friends so loved–from the too I must fly–
The grave–the gay–the love of youth’s first spring,
When no sad tear had dimmed my laughing eye,
And all was fancy’s wish imagining.
Yes, all farewell! our gallant bark flies fast00
My native land gleams faintly on my view;
One more fond look-that look perhaps the last–
A long farewell–a mournful, sad adieu.

*Once again, the question marks are words that I am not able to discern.

**These pieces have been copied out of the book Poe’s Brother, by Hervey Allen and Thomas Ollive Mabbott, copyright 1926, book no. 773/1000.