The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: writing

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.)

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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.)

The Pirate by Henry Poe-Part Two

This is my second and final installment of Henry Poe’s The Pirate. (I apologize that this had been put off so long until now.) You can read the first part here.

“The events of my boyhood I pass over–suffice it to say, I lost my parents at an early age, and was left to the care of a relation. I received a good education, and knew sorrow but by name until I had attained my eighteenth year. I then began a new existence–I was in love–Yes! if ever a man loved passionately–intensely,–I did. I was singular, romantic in my ideas, and Rosalie was equally so. I will pass over the few happy hours of our affection–they would be tedious, and I would not wish to bring them to my mind too foreibly–she promised me her hand, and declared that none but myself should ever possess it–Oh! my friend, you are young–but beware how you entrust your heart and happiness into the keeping of a woman!–it is this that has brought me to what I am–a wretched outcast–a murderer!–a broken-hearted, desperate being!”–The perspiration stood in large drops on his forehead–after a pause of a moment he continued:

“I was too much restricted by poverty to marry–but I believed that I possessed talents which would place me beyond the reach of its effects–I accordingly embraced an offer from a friend to engage in a trading voyage to the West Indies, and as my health was delicate, my friends considered the climate would restore my frame to its usual vigour. I bade a farewell to home and to Rosalie–that kiss!–that farewell kiss, was our last.

We were detained nearly a year trading to different ports, and altho’ I had written home every opportunity, had never received an answer. It was with such feelings of rapturous joy which language is incapable of defining, that I saw our vessel fast approaching my native land–a thousand endearing recollections rushed on my mind–the thought that my Rosalie was false, had never entered my brain–I would have blushed if it had done so.

It was night when our boast landed me at the wharf, and I flew with a beating heart towards her dwelling.

I forgot to mention the dagger–I purchased it with some other trinkets on account of its beauty, and had that day carelessly put it in my waistcoat pocket.

There were lights in the front of the house and I heard music–I wished to see her alone, and went to the garden gate–every thing reminded me of the blissful hours I had passed–I walked towards the servants’ houses, intending to get one of them to carry a message to Rose. The first one I met had often carried letters bewteen us–but she did not recognize me, until I spoke, when she exclaimed, “Oh Lord! Master Edgar is it you!–Miss Rose is to be married in half an hour!” and burst into tears. I have often since been surprised at my own firmness, for I listened calmly to her tale!–’twas short–a wealthy suitor had been proposed and was accepted. I asked if she could not procure me an interview–that, she said was impossible, but I would stand in the passage I might see her as she passed to the room. Thither I went, and as there was only a small lamp burning, I could not easily be discovered–I heard her laughing and talking gaily in her dressing room–strange feelings came over me–a thousand lights seemed to dance before my eyes–a difficulty of breathing, and a confused sensation of pain oppressed me–when I came to myself I was leaning against the wall and my hand convulsively grasping the dagger.

The door opened, and Rosalie with several others, came into the passage–I waited until she was nearly opposite to me, when I let fall the cloak with which I had concealed my face, and exclaimed “do you know me!–I am Edgar Leonard!”–She shrieked at the mention, and I buried my dagger in her bosom!”—-

He paused-his countenance was livid, and he bit his lip till the blood spouted on the table before him.–After a few moments he became more composed, and hastily swallowing a glass of wine, proceeded-

“I remember nothing afterwards until I found myself in the street–my hand felt stiff, and when I held it up in the moonlight, I discovered that it was blood–the truth flashed across my bewildered mind–’twas Rosalie’s life-blood! the dagger, too, looked dim–that too was stained with the blood of her, for whom, but one short hour previous to the fatal disclosure of her inconsistency, every drop in my own veins should have freely flowed!–I knew not how I got there, but I was in the boat, and I remember telling the men to land me on the opposite shore. I wished to fly, if possible, from thought, and embarked under a feigned name in a vessel for Colombia, intending to join the Patriots. On our passage we were captured by this vessel, and as I was now an outcast from society, I gladly joined them, and at the death of their captain I(?)* was chosen the commander.

I am weary of life, yet, although a murderer, I cannot commit suicide. I have courted death, but it shuns me–so true it is, that

“Life’s strange principle will longest lie
Deepest in those who wish the most die.”

You have now heard the history of my ill-fated life–but I have something more with you”–with this, he opened a chest and drew thence a bag of gold–“Take this,” said he,–“it may benefit you–me it never can–and yet,” he bitterly added, that at one time, perhaps, would have made me the happiest of mortals in the possession of my”–He stopped short–and suddenly clasping his hands to his forehead, he reeled and sunk senseless on the floor, ere I could recover from the bewildering maze which had seized upon my faculties.–He slowly recovered, and, when he seemed somewhat composed, I endeavored to persuade him to renounced his present mode of life, and again return to the bosom of civilized society–“Never!” exclaimed he, with a vehemence which made me shrink back with terror–“Never shall my outlawed foot pollute the soil of my much injured country–some speedy vengeance may here close my hated existence–but to bear in retirement those stings of remorse which which my guilt-stricken conscience is afflicted, would be worse than a thousand deaths on the ocean, where every nerve would be firmly strung in the conflict.” His firmness awed me into silence, and I felt no inclination to renew my endeavors to avert him from his purpose.

In a few days we fell in with a vessel bound to Charleston, in which I obtained a passage, and, after bidding an affectionate farewell to the youthful commander of the pirate, to whose attention and kindness I was mainly indebted for my restoration to health, we kept on our course homeward, and his little barque was soon beyond the reach of our observance. When the last glimpse was extinct, (and until then I stood motionless on the deck,) I retired to the cabin, where I found that not only my baggage had been safely and carefully delivered through his orders, but that the gold which I had intentionally left in the cabin of the corsair, was also placed in the hands of the captain, to be delivered to me.

After a pleasant run of five days we reached our destined port, and it being the sabbath day on which we landed, my first duty was fulfilled in repairing to the church and offering up my grateful acknowledgements for the signal display of the finger of providence in my behalf,–and in which a prayer for the unfortunate pirate was not forgotten.”

*I am unsure what this word is.

The Pirate by Henry Poe-Part One

In the next few posts, I will be scribing William Henry Leonard Poe’s stories, as I had done with his poetry.

Now, I happily present The Pirate, part one.
[Part Two]

[Original.]
To the Editor of the North American.
On my last voyage to the West Indies, a friend whom I met after a long separation, related to me the following adventure, and as it appeared singular and romantic, I made a memorandum of it, and I now transcribe it from my “log book” for your use, which you are at liberty to do with as you may deem proper. Yours, W.H.P.
__________________________
THE PIRATE.
I went to the Havana in the summer of 182-, on business, and having settled it to my satisfaction, engaged my passage in a vessel bound to New York–We had been but a few hours on the voyage when I felt that weariness and pain which indicates the approach of the yellow fever. I continued to grow worse, and to add to my distress, the vessel began to roll violently and sea-sickness with all its horrors cause upon me–I would have sacrificed every thing for a quiet place in which to die, as I felt that this was all I could wish for. Overcome at length with weakness, and completely exhausted, I fell asleep, from which I was awakened by a confused noise. I at first believed it was merely imagination, but as it became louder, I felt convinced that what I heard was a reality. At length the cabin door opened, and several persons descended. Our captain approached my birth and told me the vessel had been captured by pirates, and that we were now standing in for the land. I heard the first part of his speech with an apathy which my illness only can account for;-but the very name of land seemed to operate like a charm upon me. A young man now approached and told me to be under no apprehension, as no personal injury was intended, and that every care should be bestowed upon me. He inquired the nature and state of my disease, and brought me a cordial, which considerably relieved me. In a short time we were at anchor, and I was told our vessel would be detained for a day or two, and after a few articles had been taken out, permitted (cannot read word here) proceed on her voyage. The same person subsequently entered, and observed that I could be much better attended on shore, where I would be relieved from the bustle and confusion of the vessel. To this I cheerfully assented, and in the afternoon I was placed in a boat and carried to a hut near the beach;-here I was treated kindly, and every attention paid me. I had been three days on shore when the young man (whom I now discovered to be captain of the corsair) arrived, and told me our vessel would sail in an hour, and if I wished to proceed in her I was at liberty to do so, although he remarked, in my present state it would no doubt cost me my life:-and that if I would trust to him, and could bear the detention of a month or so, he would convey me to some part of Cuba, from whence I could easily procure a passage home. Believing a removal in my present state would be almost certain death, added to a strong desire to know more of a man who appeared so different from what I had heard of men engaged in the profession with which he was connected, made me assent to his proposal. In about a week I was decidedly convalescent, and I felt really grateful for the kindness of the youthful outlaw. One evening on entering my room he expressed himself gratified to see me so much recovered, as he was to sail in the morning for the other side of the islands, and it was his wish that I should accompany him, as it was likely he would fall in with some vessel bound to the United States, and I could thus get home–the next morning we were underweigh.

It was near midnight when I was awakened by a deep groan in the cabin in which I slept–I raised my head and perceived the captain gazing on a small but beautiful dagger, which he was holding to the light as if to see more plainly–before him on the table, as well as I could judge, lay a miniature–he was in tears, and appeared much affected–In a few moments he placed them in his desk and went on deck. I mused some time on the singularity of this man, who seemed fitted for a situation better than that of a piratical captain:–he was rather small in his person, but well formed–had been handsome, I should think, but sorrow seemed to have set her seal upon his brow; his hair exhibited the marks of premature old age, although he could not be more than twenty-three.

The next night I determined to watch and see if he would again look at the dagger–he at length came down, and after sitting some time in a contemplative posture, opened the desk and again the dagger met my eye–Curiosity could bear it no longer–“What a singularity beautiful dirk,” I exclaimed–he started as if he had been shot, but suddenly reocvering himself, said, with a look which seemed as if he would reach my very thoughts, “Why did you make that remark?” I felt abashed, but he immediately added, “Since you appear anxious to know my history, I will tell it you. Do you see that,” he exclaimed, as he moved the light nearer and placed the dagger before me–“‘Tis blood,” I answered, sickening at the sight–“Ay, ’tis blood!–blood! to save one drop of which I would give all this miserable body contains–and yet,” added he, wildly, “’twas I that shed it!”–He buried his face in his hands and groaned deeply–in a few moments he became more composed, and began his story.

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