Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (and E. A. Poe), “Tamerlane,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 22-64 (This material is protected by copyright)


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


[page 22, continued:]

TAMERLANE

Poe’s first published book begins with the earlier of his two long narrative poems. Its Byronic inspiration was admitted when, on May 29, 1829, he wrote to John Allan, “I have long given up Byron as a model.” “Tamerlane” is not a great poem, but there are flashes of true fire, even in the unpolished but never greatly improved first version. A fair critic must consider that, if Pope and Chatterton had done better before they were nineteen, Byron, Shelley, and even Keats had not.

R. H. Stoddard remarked in his “Life of Edgar Allan Poe”(1) that Poe’s attention may have been called to Tamerlane by a passage in Byron’s The Deformed Transformed (1824), I, i, 313ff:

I ask not

For valour, since deformity is daring.

It is its essence to o’ertake mankind

By heart and soul, and make itself the equal —

Ay, the superior of the rest. There is

A spur in its halt movements, to become

All that the others cannot, in such things ­[page 23:]

As still are free to both, to compensate

For stepdame Nature’s avarice at first.

They woo with fearless deeds the smiles of fortune,

And oft, like Timour the lame Tartar, win them.

The Tamerlane of history (1336-1405) was called in Turkish Timur Beg and in Persian Timur-i-Leng “Timur the Lame.” In youth he was highly educated and of a gentle nature, but he turned warrior. He was never a shepherd or a brigand. He did conquer the Turkish sultan Bajazet (or Bayazet) in a battle near Angora (modern Ankara) about 1402, suppressed numerous rebels, and beautified his capital, Samarkand, like Poe’s hero; and although he came of a distinguished family, his detractors spread stories of his low birth. He had a royal horoscope and married Tumaan, daughter of the Emir Musa, through whose influence he obtained the government of Casch, near his birthplace, a day’s journey from Samarkand. He also married two Chinese princesses (unnamed in histories), but made no wife his queen. Tamerlane was publicly an orthodox Mahometan, but rumors of his interest in Christianity occur. (See The Encyclopedia of Islam and Herbelot’s Bibliothèque Orientale.) Tamerlane’s “low birth” is discussed by Sir Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errors, VII, xvi, 5. He believed Tamerlane was supposed to have been a simple shepherd because his ancestors called themselves Shepherd Kings.

SOURCES

Poe’s choice of Tamerlane as a romantic hero may seem strange to modern readers familiar with Marlowe’s Tamburlaine. But a century ago Marlowe’s play was never performed and rarely read. Poe showed no acquaintance with it. Traditions about the Oriental conqueror are of very different kinds, and the more pleasant stories were gathered up by the biographer Ali Yazdi, called Sharifu’d Din, under the patronage of Tamerlane’s grandson, Ibrahim Soltan. Upon these, Nicholas Rowe wrote a drama Poe must have known about.

Rowe’s play Tamerlane (1702) long held the stage in England, being acted annually until 1815 on November 5, the anniversary ­[page 24:] of the landing of William III. In this play Bajazet represents Louis XIV, and Tamerlane, a kindly and tolerant ruler who conquers enemies only when provoked by their bad faith, is meant for William III. He has no queen, for Dutch William became a widower in 1694. Rowe’s hero is reproached by fanatical enemies for his kindness to Christians. Thus even Poe’s friar is not too inappropriate a friend for Tamerlane as the hero was usually thought of in 1827.

There are other plays about Tamerlane, one by Charles Saunders (1681) and one by Matthew Gregory (“Monk”) Lewis (1811). The latter, a horse-spectacle, was presented in Richmond on July 12, 1822, and repeated on July 17 and October 25. Poe may well have seen it and surely must have heard about it as Martin Shockley suggests in PMLA (December 1941).

PLOT

Poe took little from historic and dramatic sources; his poem is largely a personal allegory, based on his unhappy love for his Richmond sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster. Engaged, at least privately, to Miss Royster, Poe went off to the University of Virginia — poetically “to conquer the world.” Elmira’s father intercepted their letters, and Poe “came home” to find the lady affianced to Alexander Shelton — poetically “dead” to Poe.

HISTORY OF THE TEXT

The textual history of “Tamerlane” is complicated. The author completely reworked his poem three times after its first publication, and on other occasions made minor changes. The four major forms are given in full below.

The first form of the poem (A) consists of 406 lines. It is badly printed, and requires at least fourteen emendations, most of which have been made by my predecessors. Since my reprint of the original volume, issued in 1941, is easily available, it suffices to list them here: (25) hated / hatred; (66) crush / crash; (74) steep / sleep; (109) [was] added; (119) interrogation mark added; (152) Dwelt / Dwell; (184) comma deleted after aching; (190) ­[page 25:] were / wore; (244) comma added; (350) too / to; (Note 5) think / thnik; (361) long-abandon’d / long-abandon’d; (371) list / lisp; (373) numeral for note added.

I have also substituted parentheses for square brackets after line 189. These are obviously vagaries of the printer who had run out of parentheses. A few commas are indistinguishable from periods in the facsimile, but in such cases the two originals in the Berg Collection confirm my readings. Poe’s notes, on pages 37-40 at the end of the original volume, are here given as footnotes.

The second form of “Tamerlane,” presumably written in 1828, is now incompletely preserved in the holograph manuscript (B) given to Lambert A. Wilmer, and still in the possession of his family when the verbal variants were listed in the Stedman and Woodberry edition of Poe’s Works, X (1895), 201-211. The manuscript later entered the Wakeman Collection and was purchased by J. P. Morgan. It is now first published here by permission of the Trustees of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Since it is the first publication, I give what amounts to a type facsimile — preserving punctuation and spelling (even ampersands) exactly. Several words, clearly not part of the text, are scribbled on the pages; but I have concluded these are mere trials of the pen, and do not record them. The two surviving fragments comprise 157 lines. The numeration of the lines is based on the version of 1827 (A) . It can be seen that Poe had already dropped lines 182-188 and 256-326. He had thoroughly reworked 150-153, 221-223, 245-246 250-256, 334-338. Minor changes were made in lines 68, 90-91, 98, 145, 154, 164, 173, 176, 189-190, 193-194, 219, 244, 247, 330, 332, 339, 342-343, and 346.

Late in 1829 Poe shortened the poem to 243 lines for publication in his volume Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (C). This was to be practically its final form, for in 1845 it was set up from a copy of the 1829 volume with slight corrections (G), none verbal. Only two lines (40 and 57) were changed in proof for The Raven and Other Poems (H).

There are slight changes in extracts printed in the Yankee for December 1829 (E); and one (in line 187) in a presentation ­[page 26:] copy of the 1829 volume sent John Neal (D) which was discovered in 1966. Most of them are abortive.

In 1831 there was another revision for the Poems (F). This time the poem was expanded by the incorporation of “The Lake” and “To — —” beginning “Should my early life seem . . .” All these changes save two (in lines 40 and 57) were abandoned in 1845. See also lines 73-75, 77, 81-82, 86, 106, 110, 112, 119-120, 128-138, 151-152, 164-176, 181, 194, 202, 207-221, 235, and 243. The comma in line 81 is demanded by sense, and I emend the period of the original, and add an apostrophe in line 238.

In 1850 Griswold (J) followed the 1845 volume (H) closely.

 

TEXTS

(A) Tamerlane and Other Poems (Boston, 1827), pp. 5-21, notes, pp. 37-40; (B) Wilmer manuscript (fragments), 1828, now in the Pierpont Morgan Library; (C) Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (Baltimore, 1829), pp. 43-54; (D) John Neal’s presentation copy of Al Aaraaf . . . , with manuscript change in line 187; (E) The Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette, December 1829 (1:297-298), extracts; (F) Poems (New York, 1831), pp. 111-124; (G) Elizabeth Herring’s copy of Al Aaraaf . . . with manuscript changes, 1845; (H) The Raven and Other Poems (New York, 1845), pp. 74-82; (J) Works (New York, 1850), II, 96-104.

TAMERLANE [A]

I.

I have sent for thee, holy friar; (1)

But ’twas not with the drunken hope,

Which is but agony of desire

To shun the fate, with which to cope

5

Is more than crime may dare to dream, ­[page 27:]

That I have call’d thee at this hour:

Such father is not my theme —

Nor am I mad, to deem that power

Of earth may shrive me of the sin

10

Unearthly pride hath revell’d in —

I would not call thee fool, old man,

But hope is not a gift of thine;

If I can hope (O God! I can)

It falls from an eternal shrine.

II.

[[n]]

15

The gay wall of this gaudy tower

Grows dim around me — death is near.

I had not thought, until this hour

When passing from the earth, that ear

Of any, were it not the shade

20

Of one whom in life I made

All mystery but a simple name,

Might know the secret of a spirit

Bow’d down in sorrow, and in shame. —

Shame said’st thou?

Aye I did inherit

25

That hated portion, with the fame,

The worldly glory, which has shown

A demon-light around my throne,

Scorching my sear’d heart with a pain

Not Hell shall make me fear again.

III.

30

I have not always been as now —

The fever’d diadem on my brow

I claim’d and won usurpingly —

Aye — the same heritage hath giv’n

Rome to the Caesar — this to me;

35

The heirdom of a kingly mind —

And a proud spirit, which hath striv’n ­[page 28:]

Triumphantly with human kind.

In mountain air I first drew life;

[[n]]

The mists of the Taglay have shed (2)

40

Nightly their dews on my young head;

And my brain drank their venom then,

When after day of perilous strife

[[n]]

With chamois, I would seize his den

[[n]]

And slumber, in my pride of power,

45

The infant monarch of the hour —

For, with the mountain dew by night,

My soul imbib’d unhallow’d feeling;

And I would feel its essence stealing

In dreams upon me — while the light

50

Flashing from cloud that hover’d o’er,

Would seem to my half closing eye

The pageantry of monarchy!

And the deep thunder’s echoing roar

Came hurriedly upon me, telling

55

Of war, and tumult, where my voice

My own voice, silly child! was swelling

(O how would my wild heart rejoice

And leap within me at the cry)

The battle-cry of victory!

* * * * *

IV.

60

The rain came down upon my head

But barely shelter’d — and the wind

Pass’d quickly o’er me — but my mind

Was mad’ning — for ’twas man that shed

Laurels upon me — and the rush,

65

The torrent of the chilly air

Gurgled in my pleas’d ear the crush

Of empires, with the captive’s prayer, ­[page 28:]

The hum of suitors, the mix’d tone

Of flatt’ry round a sov’reign’s throne.

 

70

The storm had ceas’d — and I awoke —

Its spirit cradled me to sleep,

And as it pass’d me by, there broke

Strange light upon me, tho’ it were

My soul in mystery to steep:

75

For I was not as I had been;

The child of Nature, without care,

Or thought, save of the passing scene. —

V.

My passions, from that hapless hour,

Usurp’d a tyranny, which men

80

Have deem’d, since I have reach’d to power

My innate nature — be it so:

But, father, there liv’d one who, then —

Then, in my boyhood, when their fire

Burn’d with a still intenser glow;

85

(For passion must with youth expire)

Ev’n then, who deem’d this iron heart

In woman’s weakness had a part.

 

I have no words, alas! to tell

The lovliness of loving well!

90

Nor would I dare attempt to trace

The breathing beauty of a face,

Which ev’n to my impassion’d mind,

Leaves not its memory behind.

In spring of life have ye ne’er dwelt

95

Some object of delight upon,

With steadfast eye, till ye have felt

The earth reel — and the vision gone?

And I have held to mem’ry’s eye

One object — and but one — until ­[page 30:]

100

Its very form hath pass’d me by,

But left its influence with me still.

VI.

’Tis not to thee that I should name —

Thou can’st not — would’st not dare to think

The magic empire of a flame

105

Which ev’n upon this perilous brink

Hath fix’d my soul, tho’ unforgiv’n

By what it lost for passion — Heav’n.

I lov’d — and O, how tenderly!

Yes! she [was] worthy of all love!

110

Such as in infancy was mine

Tho’ then its passion could not be:

’Twas such as angel minds above

Might envy — her young heart the shrine

On which my ev’ry hope and thought

115

Were incense — then a goodly gift —

For they were childish, without sin,

Pure as her young examples taught;

Why did I leave it and adrift,

Trust to the fickle star within?

VII.

120

We grew in age, and love together,

Roaming the forest and the wild;

My breast her shield in wintry weather,

And when the friendly sunshine smil’d

And she would mark the op’ning skies,

125

I saw no Heav’n, but in her eyes —

Ev’n childhood knows the human heart;

For when, in sunshine and in smiles,

From all our little cares apart,

Laughing at her half silly wiles,

130

I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,

And pour my spirit out in tears, ­[page 31:]

She’d look up in my wilder’d eye —

There was no need to speak the rest —

No need to quiet her kind fears —

135

She did not ask the reason why.

The hallow’d mem’ry of those years

Comes o’er me in these lonely hours,

And, with sweet lovliness, appears

As perfume of strange summer flow’rs;

140

Of flow’rs which we have known before

In infancy, which seen, recall

To mind — not flow’rs alone — but more

Our earthly life, and love — and all.

VIII.

Yes! she was worthy of all love!

145

Ev’n such as from th’ accursed time

My spirit with the tempest strove,

When on the mountain peak alone,

Ambition lent it a new tone,

And bade it first to dream of crime,

150

My phrenzy to her bosom taught:

We still were young: no purer thought

Dwelt in a seraph’s breast than thine; (3)

For passionate love is still divine:

I lov’d her as an angel might

155

With ray of the all living light

Which blazes upon Edis’ shrine. (4)

It is not surely sin to name,

With such as mine — that mystic flame,

I had no being but in thee!

160

The world with all its train of bright ­[page 32:]

And happy beauty (for to me

All was an undefin’d delight)

The world — its joy — its share of pain

Which I felt not — its bodied forms

165

Of varied being, which contain

The bodiless spirits of the storms,

The sunshine, and the calm — the ideal

And fleeting vanities of dreams,

Fearfully beautiful! the real

170

Nothings of mid-day waking life —

Of an enchanted life, which seems,

Now as I look back, the strife

Of some ill demon, with a power

Which left me in an evil hour,

175

All that I felt, or saw, or thought,

Crowding, confused became

(With thine unearthly beauty fraught)

[[n]]

Thou — and the nothing of a name.

IX.

The passionate spirit which hath known,

180

And deeply felt the silent tone

Of its own self supremacy, —

(I speak thus openly to thee,

’Twere folly now to veil a thought

With which this aching breast is fraught)

185

The soul which feels its innate right —

The mystic empire and high power

Giv’n by the energetic might

Of Genius, at its natal hour;

Which knows (believe me at this time,

190

When falsehood were a ten-fold crime,

There is a power in the high spirit

To know the fate it will inherit)

The soul, which knows such power, will still

Find Pride the ruler of its will. ­[page 33:]

 

195

Yes! I was proud — and ye who know

The magic of that meaning word,

So oft perverted, will bestow

Your scorn, perhaps, when ye have heard

That the proud spirit had been broken,

200

The proud heart burst in agony

At one upbraiding word or token

Of her that heart’s idolatry —

I was ambitious — have ye known

Its fiery passion? — ye have not —

205

A cottager, I mark’d a throne

Of half the world, as all my own,

And murmur’d at such lowly lot!

But it had pass’d me as a dream

Which, of light step, flies with the dew,

210

That kindling thought — did not the beam

Of Beauty, which did guide it through

The livelong summer day, oppress

My mind with double loveliness —

* * * * *

X

We walk’d together on the crown

215

Of a high mountain, which look’d down

Afar from its proud natural towers

Of rock and forest, on the hills —

The dwindled hills, whence amid bowers

Her own fair hand had rear’d around,

220

Gush’d shoutingly a thousand rills,

Which as it were, in fairy bound

Embrac’d two hamlets — those our own —

Peacefully happy — yet alone —

* * * * *

I spoke to her of power and pride —

225

But mystically, in such guise, ­[page 34:]

That she might deem it naught beside

The moment’s converse, in her eyes

I read (perhaps too carelessly)

A mingled feeling with my own;

230

The flush on her bright cheek, to me,

Seem’d to become a queenly throne

Too well, that I should let it be

A light in the dark wild, alone.

XI.

There — in that hour — a thought came o’er

235

My mind, it had not known before —

To leave her while we both were young, —

To follow my high fate among

The strife of nations, and redeem

The idle words, which, as a dream

240

Now sounded to her heedless ear —

I held no doubt — I knew no fear

Of peril in my wild career;

To gain an empire, and throw down

As nuptial dowry — a queen’s crown,

245

The only feeling which possest,

With her own image, my fond breast —

Who, that had known the secret thought

Of a young peasant’s bosom then,

Had deem’d him, in compassion, aught

250

But one, whom phantasy had led

Astray from reason — Among men

Ambition is chain’d down — nor fed

(As in the desert, where the grand,

The wild, the beautiful, conspire

255

With their own breath to fan its fire)

With thoughts such feeling can command;

Uncheck’d by sarcasm, and scorn

Of those, who hardly will conceive

That any should become “great,” born (5) ­[page 35:]

260

In their own sphere — will not believe

That they shall stoop in life to one

Whom daily they are wont to see

Familiarly — whom Fortune’s sun

Hath ne’er shone dazzlingly upon

265

Lowly — and of their own degree —

XII.

I pictur’d to my fancy’s eye

Her silent, deep astonishment,

When, a few fleeting years gone by,

(For short the time my high hope lent

270

To its most desperate intent,)

She might recall in him, whom Fame

Had gilded with a conquerer’s name,

(With glory — such as might inspire

Perforce, a passing thought of one,

[[n]]

275

Whom she had deem’d in his own fire

Wither’d and blasted; who had gone

A traitor, violate of the truth

So plighted in his early youth,)

[[n]]

Her own Alexis, who should plight (6)

280

The love he plighted then — again,

And raise his infancy’s delight,

The bride and queen of Tamerlane —

XIII.

One noon of a bright summer’s day

I pass’d from out the matted bow’r ­[page 36:]

285

Where in a deep, still slumber lay

[[n]]

My Ada. In that peaceful hour,

A silent gaze was my farewell.

I had no other solace — then

T’ awake her, and a falsehood tell

290

Of a feign’d journey, were again

To trust the weakness of my heart

To her soft thrilling voice: To part

Thus, haply, while in sleep she dream’d

Of long delight, nor yet had deem’d

295

Awake, that I had held a thought

Of parting, were with madness fraught;

I knew not woman’s heart, alas!

Tho’ lov’d, and loving — let it pass. —

XIV.

I went from out the matted bow’r,

300

And hurried madly on my way:

And felt, with ev’ry flying hour,

That bore me from my home, more gay;

There is of earth an agony

Which, ideal, still may be

305

The worst ill of mortality,

’Tis bliss, in its own reality,

Too real, to his breast who lives

Not within himself but gives

A portion of his willing soul

310

To God, and to the great whole —

[[n]]

To him, whose loving spirit will dwell

With Nature, in her wild paths; tell

Of her wond’rous ways, and telling bless

Her overpow’ring loveliness!

315

A more than agony to him

Whose failing sight will grow dim

With its own living gaze upon

That loveliness around: the sun — ­[page 37:]

The blue sky — the misty light

320

Of the pale cloud therein, whose hue

Is grace to its heav’nly bed of blue;

Dim! tho’ looking on all bright!

O God! when the thoughts that may not pass

Will burst upon him, and alas!

325

For the flight on Earth to Fancy giv’n,

There are no words — unless of Heav’n.

XV.

* * * * *

Look ’round thee now on Samarcand, (7)

Is she not queen of earth? her pride

Above all cities? in her hand

330

Their destinies? with all beside

Of glory, which the world hath known?

Stands she not proudly and alone?

And who her sov’reign? Timur he (8)

Whom th’ astonish’d earth hath seen,

335

With victory, on victory,

Redoubling age! and more, I ween,

[[n]]

The Zinghis’ yet re-echoing fame (9)

And now what has he? what! a name.

[[n]]

The sound of revelry by night

340

Comes o’er me, with the mingled voice

Of many with a breast as light,

As if ’twere not the dying hour

Of one, in whom they did rejoice —

As in a leader, haply — Power

345

Its venom secretly imparts;

Nothing have I with human hearts. ­[page 38:]

XVI.

[[n]]

When Fortune mark’d me for her own,

And my proud hopes had reach’d a throne

(It boots me not, good friar, to tell

350

A tale the world but knows too well,

How by what hidden deeds of might,

I clamber’d to the tottering height,)

I still was young; and well I ween

My spirit what it e’er had been.

[[n]]

355

My eyes were still on pomp and power,

My wilder’d heart was far away,

In vallies of the wild Taglay,

In mine own Ada’s matted bow’r.

I dwelt not long in Samarcand

360

Ere, in a peasant’s lowly guise,

I sought my long-abandon’d land,

By sunset did its mountains rise

In dusky grandeur to my eyes:

But as I wander’d on the way

365

My heart sunk with the sun’s ray.

To him, who still would gaze upon

The glory of the summer sun,

There comes, when that sun will from him part,

A sullen hopelessness of heart.

370

That soul will hate the ev’ning mist

So often lovely, and will list

To the sound of the coming darkness (known

To those whose spirits hark’n) (10) as one

Who in a dream of night would fly

375

But cannot from a danger nigh.

What though the moon — the silvery moon

Shine on his path, in her high noon;

Her smile is chilly, and her beam ­[page 39:]

In that time of dreariness will seem

380

As the portrait of one after death;

A likeness taken when the breath

Of young life, and the fire o’ the eye

Had lately been but had pass’d by.

’Tis thus when the lovely summer sun

385

Of our boyhood, his course hath run:

For all we live to know — is known;

And all we seek to keep — hath flown;

With the noon-day beauty, which is all.

Let life, then, as the day-flow ‘r, fall —

390

The trancient, passionate day-flow’r, (11)

Withering at the ev’ning hour.

XVII.

I reach’d my home — my home no more —

For all was flown that made it so —

I pass’d from out its mossy door,

395

In vacant idleness of woe.

There met me on its threshold stone

A mountain hunter, I had known

In childhood but he knew me not.

Something he spoke of the old cot:

400

It had seen better days, he said;

There rose a fountain once, and there

[[n]]

Full many a fair flow’r raised its head:

But she who rear’d them was long dead,

And in such follies had no part,

405

What was there left me now? despair —

A kingdom for a broken-heart.

[1827]


[page 40, continued:]

TAMERLANE [B]

[5]

65

[  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. ]

Gurgled in my pleas’d ear the crush

Of empires, with the captive’s prayer

The hum of suitors & the tone

Of flatt’ry ’round a sov’reign’s throne.

6

70

The storm had ceas’d & I awoke —

Its spirit cradled me to sleep,

And as it pass’d me by there broke

Strange light upon me, tho’ it were

My soul in mystery to steep:

75

For I was not as I had been —

The child of Nature, without care,

Or thought save of the passing scene.

7

My passions, from that hapless hour

Usurp’d a tyranny which men

80

Have deem’d since I have reach’d to power

My innate nature — be it so:

But, father, there liv’d one who then,

Then, in my boyhood, when their fire

Burn’d with a still intenser glow

85

(For passion must with youth expire)

Ev’n then who deem’d this iron heart

In woman’s weakness had a part.

8

I have no words, alas! to tell

The loveliness of loving well!

90

Nor would I now attempt to trace

The more than beauty of a face ­[page 41:]

Which, ev’n to this impassion’d mind,

Leaves not its memory behind.

In spring of life have ye ne’er dwelt

95

Some object of delight upon

With steadfast eye, till ye had felt

The earth reel, & the vision gone?

So have I held to Memory’s eye

One object, and but one, until [. . . . .]

11

Yes! she was worthy of all love —

145

Such as I taught her from the time

My spirit with the tempest strove

When, on the mountain peak alone,

Ambition lent it a new tone,

And bade it first to dream of crime.

150

There were no holier thoughts than thine.

I lov’d thee as an angel might,

155

With ray of the all-living light

Which blazes upon Edis’ shrine —

It is not surely sin to name

With such as mine that mystic flame.

I had no being but in thee —

160

The world, with all its train of bright

And happy beauty — (for to me

All was an undefin’d delight.)

The world — its joy — its share of pain

Unheeded then — its bodied forms

165

Of varied being which contain

The bodiless spirits of the storms,

The sunshine, & the calm — th’ ideal

And fleeting vanities of dreams

Fearfully beautiful — the real

170

Nothings of mid-day waking life —

Of an enchanted life, which seems,

Now as I look back, the strife ­[page 42:]

Of an ill demon with a power

Which left me in an evil hour —

175

All that I felt, or saw, or thought,

Crowding confusedly became

(With thine unearthly beauty fraught —)

Thou — & the nothing of a name.

12

The passionate spirit which hath known

180

And deeply felt the silent tone

Of its own self-supremacy —

189

Which knows (believe! for now on me

190

Truth flashes thro’ Eternity,

There is a power in the high spirit

To know the fate it will inherit)

The soul which feels such power will still

Find Pride the ruler of its will.

13

195

Yes! I was proud & ye who know

The magic of that meaning word

So oft perverted, will bestow

Your scorn perhaps when ye have heard

That the proud spirit had been broken,

200

The proud heart burst in agony

At one upbraiding word or token

Of her, that heart’s idolatry!

I was ambitious — have ye known

The fiery passion? ye have not —

205

A cottager, I mark’d a throne

Of half the world as all my own

And murmur’d at such lowly lot;

But it had pass’d me as a dream

Which, of light step, flies with the dew

210

(That kindling thought) — did not the beam

Of Beauty, which did guide it thro’ ­[page 43:]

The live-long summer day, oppress

My mind with double loveliness!

14

We walk’d together on the crown

215

Of a high mountain which look’d down

Afar from its proud natural towers

Of rock & forest on the hills;

The dwindled hills, whence, amid bowers

Her magic hand had rear’d around

220

Gush’d shoutingly a thousand rills,

Encircling with a glitt’ring bound

Of diamond sunshine & sweet spray

Two mossy huts of the Taglay.

15

I spoke to her of power & pride,

225

But mystically, in such guise,

That she might deem it nought beside

The moment’s converse: in her eyes

I read, perhaps too carelessly,

A mingled feeling with my own —

230

The flush on her bright cheek to me

Seem’d to become a queenly throne

Too well that I should let it be

A light in the dark wild alone.

16

There, in that hour, a thought came o’er

235

My mind it had not known before —

To leave her while we both were young:

To follow my high fate among

The strife of nations, & redeem

The idle words which, as a dream,

240

Now sounded to her heedless ear —

I held no doubt, I knew no fear ­[page 44:]

Of peril in my wild career —

To gain an empire & throw down

As nuptial dowry a queen’s crown

245

The undying hope which now oppress’d

A spirit ne’er to be at rest.

17

Who that had known the silent thought

Of a young peasant’s bosom then

Had deem’d him, in compassion, aught

250

But one whom Phantasy had thrown

Her mantle over? among men

Lion Ambition is chain’d down,

And crouches to a keeper’s hand —

Not so in deserts where the grand

The wild, the terrible conspire

255

With their own breath to fan his fire.

18

327

Look ’round thee now on Samarcand!

Is she not queen of earth? her pride

Above all cities? in her hand

330

Their destinies? in all beside

Of glory which the world hath known

Stands she not nobly & alone?

And who her sov’reign? Timur — he

Whom the astonish’d people saw

335

Striding o’er empires haughtily

A diadem’d outlaw!

More than the Zinghis in his fame —

And now what has he? even a name.

19

The sound of revelry to night

340

Comes o’er me, with the mingled voice

Of many with a breast as light ­[page 45:]

As if ’twere not their parting hour

From one in whom they did rejoice —

As in a leader, haply; Power

345

Its venom secretly imparts —

And I have naught with human hearts. [. . . .]

[1827-1828]


[page 45, continued:]

TAMERLANE [F]

I.

Kind solace in a dying hour!

Such, father, is not (now) my theme:

I will not madly think that power

Of earth may shrive me of the sin

5

Unearthly pride hath revell’d in —

I have no time to dote or dream:

You call it hope — that fire of fire!

It is but agony of desire —

If I can hope (O God! I can)

10

Its fount is holier — more divine —

I would not call thee fool, old man,

But such is not a gift of thine.

II.

Hear thou the secret of a spirit

Bow’d from its wild pride into shame.

15

O yearning heart! (I did inherit

Thy withering portion with the fame,

The searing glory which hath shone

Amid the jewels of my throne,

Halo of Hell! and with a pain

20

Not Hell shall make me fear again)

O craving heart for the lost flowers

And sunshine of my summer hours!

The undying voice of that dead time, ­[page 46:]

With its interminable chime

25

Rings in the spirit of a spell,

Upon thy emptiness, — a knell.

Despair, the fabled vampire-bat,

Hath long upon my bosom sat,

[[n]]

And I would rave, but that he flings

30

A calm from his unearthly wings.

III.

I have not always been as now:

The fever’d diadem on my brow,

I claim’d and won usurpingly

Hath not the same heirdom given

35

Rome to the Cæsar — this to me?

The heritage of kingly mind

And a proud spirit which path striven

Triumphantly with human kind.

IV.

On mountain soil I first drew life —

40

The mists of the Taglay have shed

Nightly their dews upon my head,

And I believe the winged strife

And tumult of the headlong air

Hath nestled in my very hair.

V.

45

So late from Heaven — that dew — it fell

(Mid dreams of an unholy night)

Upon me with the touch of Hell,

While the red flashing of the light

From clouds that hung, like banners, o ‘er,

50

Appear’d to my half-closing eye

The pageantry of monarchy,

And the deep trumpet thunder’s roar

Came hurriedly upon me, telling ­[page 47:]

Of human battle, where my voice,

55

My own voice, silly child, was swelling

(O how my spirit would rejoice

And leap within me at the cry!)

The battle cry of victory.

VI.

The rain came down upon my head,

60

Unshelter’d, and the heavy wind

Was giant-like — so thou, my mind!

It was but man, I thought, who shed

Laurels upon me — and the rush,

The torrent of the chilly air,

65

Gurgled within my ear the crush

Of empires, with the captive’s prayer,

The hum of suitors, and the tone

Of flattery, round a sovereign’s throne.

VII.

My passions from that hapless hour

70

Usurp’d a tyranny which men

Have deem’d, since I have reach’d to power,

My innate nature — be it so:

But, father, there liv’d one who then —

Then in my boyhood when their fire

75

Burn’d with a still intenser glow,

(For passion must with youth expire)

Ev’n then who knew that as infinite

My soul — so was the weakness in it.

VIII.

[[n]]

For in those days it was my lot

80

To haunt of the wide world a spot

The which I could not love the less,

So lovely was the loneliness

Of a wild lake with black rock bound, ­[page 48:]

[[n]]

And the sultan-like pines that tower’d around!

85

But when the night had thrown her pall

Upon that spot as upon all,

And the black wind murmur’d by,

In a dirge of melody;

My infant spirit would awake

90

To the terror of that lone lake.

Yet that terror was not fright —

But a tremulous delight —

A feeling not the jewell’d mine

Could ever bribe me to define,

95

Nor love, Ada! tho’ it were thine.

How could I from that water bring

Solace to my imagining?

My solitary soul — how make

An Eden of that dim lake?

IX.

100

But then a gentler, calmer spell,

Like moonlight on my spirit fell,

And O! I have no words to tell

The loveliness of loving well!

I will not now attempt to trace

105

The more than beauty of a face

Whose lineaments upon my mind

Are shadows on the unstable wind.

I well remember having dwelt,

Pages of early lore upon,

110

With loitering eye till I have felt

The letters with their meaning melt

To fantasies with — none.

X.

Was she not worthy of all love?

Love as in infancy was mine —

115

’Twas such as angel minds above ­[page 49:]

Might envy — her young heart the shrine

On which my ev’ry hope and thought

Were incense — then a goodly gift —

For they were childish and upright —

120

Pure — as her young example taught:

Why did I leave it and adrift

Trust to the fire within for light?

XI.

We grew in age and love together,

Roaming the forest and the wild,

125

My breast her shield in wintry weather,

And when the friendly sunshine smil’d,

And she would mark the opening skies,

I saw no Heaven but in her eyes.

XII.

Young Love’s first lesson is — the heart:

130

For mid that sunshine and those smiles,

When from our little cares apart,

And laughing at her girlish wiles,

I’d lean upon her gentle breast,

And pour my spirit out in tears,

135

There was no need to speak the rest,

No need to quiet any fears

Of hers — who ask’d no reason why,

But turn’d on me her quiet eye.

XIII.

I had no being but in thee:

140

The world and all it did contain,

In the earth — the air — the sea,

Of pleasure or of pain —

The good, the bad, the ideal,

Dim vanities of dreams by night,

145

And dimmer nothings which were real, ­[page 50:]

(Shadows and a more shadowy light)

Parted upon their misty wings,

And so, confusedly, became

Thine image and a name — a name!

150

Two separate yet most intimate things.

XIV.

We walk’d together on the crown

Of a high mountain which look’d down

Afar from its proud natural towers

Of rock and forest on the hills —

155

The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers

And shooting with a thousand rills.

XV.

I spoke to her of power and pride,

But mystically, in such guise

That she might deem it nought beside

160

The moments’ converse — in her eyes

I read — perhaps too carelessly —

A mingled feeling with my own —

The flush upon her cheek to me,

Seem’d fitted for a queenly throne,

165

Too well that I should let it be,

Light in the wilderness alone.

XVI.

I wrapp’d myself in grandeur then

And donn’d a visionary crown —

Yet it was not that Fantasy

170

Had thrown her mantle over me,

But that among the rabble men,

Lion ambition is chain’d down,

And crouches to a keeper’s hand,

Not so in deserts where the grand, ­[page 51:]

175

The wild, the terrible, conspire

With their own breath to fan its fire.

* * * * * *

XVII.

Say, holy father, breathes there yet

[[n]]

A rebel or a Bajazet?

How now! why tremble, man of gloom,

180

As if my words were the Simoom!

Why do the people bow the knee,

To the young Tamerlane — to me!

XVIII.

O human love! thou spirit given

On earth of all we hope in Heaven!

185

Which fallest into the soul like rain

Upon the Syroc-wither’d plain,

And failing of thy power to bless,

But leavest the heart a wilderness!

Idea which bindest life around,

190

With music of so strange a sound,

And beauty of so wild a birth —

Farewell! for I have won the earth.

XIX.

When hope, the eagle that tower’d, could see

No cliff beyond him in the sky,

195

His pinions were bent droopingly,

And homeward turn’d his soften’d eye.

XX.

* * * * * *

’Twas sunset: when the sun will part,

There comes a sullenness of heart

To him who still would look upon ­[page 52:]

200

The glory of that summer sun.

That soul will hate the evening mist,

So often lovely, and will list

To the sound of the coming darkness (known

To those whose spirits harken) as one

205

Who in a dream of night would fly,

But cannot from a danger nigh.

XXI.

What tho’ the moon — the white moon —

Shed all the beauty of her noon,

Her smile is chilly, and her beam

210

In that time of dreariness will seem

(So like you gather in your breath)

A portrait taken after death.

* * * * * *

XXII.

I reach’d my home — what home? above,

My home — my hope — my early love,

215

Lonely, like me, the desert rose,

Bow’d down with its own glory grows.

XXIV.

Father, I firmly do believe —

I know — for death, who comes for me

From regions of the blest afar,

220

Where there is nothing to deceive,

Hath left his iron gate ajar,

And rays of truth you cannot see,

Are flashing thro’ eternity:

I do believe that Eblis hath

225

A snare in every human path —

Else how when in the holy grove,

I wander’d of the idol, Love, ­[page 53:]

Who daily scents his snowy wings

With incense of burnt offerings,

230

From the most undefiled things;

Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven

Above with trelliced rays from Heaven,

No mote may shun — no tiniest fly

The lightning of his eagle eye —

235

How was it that Ambition crept,

Unseen amid the revels there,

Till growing bold, he laugh’d and leapt

In the tangles of Love’s very hair?

XXIV.

[[n]]

If my peace hath flown away

240

In a night — or in a day —

In a vision — or in none —

Is it, therefore, the less gone?

I was standing ’mid the roar

Of a wind-beaten shore,

245

And I held within my hand

Some particles of sand —

How bright! and yet to creep

Thro’ my fingers to the deep!

My early hopes? no — they

250

Went gloriously away,

Like lightning from the sky —

Why in the battle did not I?

[1827-1831?]


[page 53, continued:]

[[n]]

TAMERLANE [H]

[[n]]

Kind solace in a dying hour!

Such, father, is not (now) my theme —

I will not madly deem that power

Of Earth may shrive me of the sin ­[page 54:]

5

Unearthly pride hath revell’d in —

I have no time to dote or dream:

You call it hope — that fire of fire!

It is but agony of desire:

If I can hope — Oh God! I can —

10

Its fount is holier — more divine —

I would not call thee fool, old man,

But such is not a gift of thine.

 

Know thou the secret of a spirit

Bow’d from its wild pride into shame.

15

O yearning heart! I did inherit

[[n]]

Thy withering portion with the fame,

The searing glory which hath shone

Amid the Jewels of my throne,

Halo of Hell! and with a pain

20

Not Hell shall make me fear again —

O craving heart, for the lost flowers

And sunshine of my summer hours!

The undying voice of that dead time,

With its interminable chime,

25

Rings, in the spirit of a spell

Upon the emptiness — a knell.

 

I have not always been as now:

The fever’d diadem on my brow

[[v]]

I claim’d and won usurpingly —

[[n]]

30

Hath not the same fierce heirdom given

Rome to the Cæsar — this to me?

The heritage of a kingly mind,

And a proud spirit which hath striven

Triumphantly with human kind.

 

35

On mountain soil I first drew life:

The mists of the Taglay have shed

Nightly their dews upon my head, ­[page 55:]

And, I believe, the winged strife

And tumult of the headlong air

[[v]]

40

Have nestled in my very hair.

 

So late from Heaven — that dew — it fell

[[v]]

(’mid dreams of an unholy night)

Upon me with the touch of Hell,

While the red flashing of the light

45

From clouds that hung, like banners, o’er,

[[v]]

Appeared to my half-closing eye

The pageantry of monarchy,

And the deep trumpet-thunder’s roar

Came hurriedly upon me, telling

[[v]]

50

Of human battle, where my voice,

My own voice, silly child! — was swelling

(O! how my spirit would rejoice,

And leap within me at the cry)

The battle-cry of Victory!

 

55

The rain came down upon my head

Unshelter’d — and the heavy wind

[[v]]

Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.

It was but man, I thought, who shed

Laurels upon me: and the rush —

60

The torrent of the chilly air

Gurgled within my ear the crush

Of empires — with the captive’s prayer —

The hum of suitors — and the tone

[[v]]

Of flattery ’round a sovereign’s throne.

 

65

My passions, from that hapless hour, ­[page 56:]

Usurp’d a tyranny which men

Have deem’d, since I have reach’d to power,

My innate nature — be it so:

But, father, there liv’d one who, then,

70

Then — in my boyhood — when their fire

Burn’d with a still intenser glow

(For passion must, with youth, expire)

E’en then who knew this iron heart

In woman’s weakness had a part.

 

75

I have no words — alas! — to tell

The loveliness of loving well!

Nor would I now attempt to trace

The more than beauty of a face

Whose lineaments, upon my mind,

80

Are — shadows on th’ unstable wind:

[[n]]

Thus I remember having dwelt

Some page of early lore upon,

With loitering eye, till I have felt

The letters — with their meaning — melt

85

To fantasies — with none.

 

O, she was worthy of all love!

Love — as in infancy was mine —

[[n]]

’Twas such as angel minds above

Might envy; her young heart the shrine

90

On which my every hope and thought

Were incense — then a goodly gift,

For they were childish and upright —

Pure — as her young example taught:

Why did I leave it, and, adrift,

95

Trust to the fire within, for light?

 

We grew in age — and love — together —

Roaming the forest, and the wild;

My breast her shield in wintry weather —

And, when the friendly sunshine smil’d, ­[page 57:]

100

And she would mark the opening skies,

[[n]]

I saw no Heaven — but in her eyes.

 

[[n]]

Young Love’s first lesson is —— the heart.

For ’mid that sunshine, and those smiles,

When, from our little cares apart,

105

And laughing at her girlish wiles,

I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,

And pour my spirit out in tears —

There was no need to speak the rest —

No need to quiet any fears

110

Of her — who ask’d no reason why,

[[v]]

But turn’d on me her quiet eye!

 

Yet more than worthy of the love

My spirit struggled with, and strove,

When, on the mountain peak, alone,

115

Ambition lent it a new tone —

[[n]]

I had no being — but in thee:

The world, and all it did contain

In the earth — the air — the sea —

Its joy — its little lot of pain

120

That was new pleasure — the ideal,

Dim, vanities of dreams by night —

[[n]]

And dimmer nothings which were real —

(Shadows — and a more shadowy light!)

Parted upon their misty wings,

125

And, so, confusedly, became

Thine image and — a name — a name!

Two separate — yet most intimate things.

 

I was ambitious — have you known

The passion, father? You have not:

130

A cottager, I mark’d a throne

Of half the world as all my own, ­[page 58:]

And murmur’d at such lowly lot —

But, just like any other dream,

Upon the vapor of the dew

[[n]]

135

My own had past, did not the beam

Of beauty which did while it thro’

The minute — the hour — the day — oppress

My mind with double loveliness.

 

[[n]]

We walk’d together on the crown

140

Of a high mountain which look’d down

Afar from its proud natural towers

Of rock and forest, on the hills —

The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers

And shouting with a thousand rills.

 

145

I spoke to her of power and pride,

But mystically — in such guise

That she might deem it nought beside

The moment’s converse; in her eyes

I read, perhaps too carelessly —

150

A mingled feeling with my own —

The flush on her bright cheek, to me

Seem’d to become a queenly throne

Too well that I should let it be

Light in the wilderness alone.

 

155

I wrapp’d myself in grandeur then

And donn’d a visionary crown —

Yet it was not that Fantasy

Had thrown her mantle over me —

But that, among the rabble — men,

160

Lion ambition is chain’d down —

And crouches to a keeper’s hand —

Not so in deserts where the grand —

The wild — the terrible conspire

With their own breath to fan his fire. ­[page 59:]

 

165

Look ’round thee now on Samarcand! —

Is she not queen of Earth? her pride

Above all cities? in her hand

Their destinies? in all beside

Of glory which the world hath known

170

Stands she not nobly and alone?

Falling — her veriest stepping-stone

Shall form the pedestal of a throne —

And who her sovereign? Timour — he

Whom the astonished people saw

175

Striding o’er empires haughtily

A diadem’d outlaw!

 

O, human love! thou spirit given,

On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!

Which fall’st into the soul like rain

[[n]]

180

Upon the Siroc-wither’d plain,

And, failing in thy power to bless,

But leav’st the heart a wilderness!

Idea! which bindest life around

With music of so strange a sound

185

And beauty of so wild a birth —

Farewell! for I have won the Earth.

 

[[v]]

When Hope, the eagle that tower’d, could see

No cliff beyond him in the sky,

His pinions were bent droopingly —

190

And homeward turn’d his soften’d eye.

[[n]]

’Twas sunset: when the sun will part

There comes a sullenness of heart

To him who still would look upon

The glory of the summer sun.

195

That soul will hate the ev’ning mist

So often lovely, and will list

To the sound of the coming darkness (known ­[page 60:]

To those whose spirits harken) as one

[[n]]

Who, in a dream of night, would fly

200

But cannot from a danger nigh.

 

What tho’ the moon — the white moon

Shed all the splendor of her noon,

[[n]]

Her smile is chilly — and her beam,

In that time of dreariness, will seem

205

(So like you gather in your breath)

A portrait taken after death.

[[n]]

And boyhood is a summer sun

Whose waning is the dreariest one —

For all we live to know is known

210

And all we seek to keep hath flown —

Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall

[[n]]

With the noon-day beauty — which is all.

 

[[n]]

I reach’d my home — my home no more —

For all had flown who made it so.

215

I pass’d from out its mossy door,

And, tho’ my tread was soft and low,

A voice came from the threshold stone

Of one whom I had earlier known —

O, I defy thee, Hell, to show

220

On beds of fire that burn below,

An humbler heart — a deeper wo.

 

Father, I firmly do believe —

I know — for Death who comes for me

From regions of the blest afar,

225

Where there is nothing to deceive,

Hath left his iron gate ajar,

And rays of truth you cannot see

Are flashing thro’ Eternity ——

[[n]]

I do believe that Eblis hath

230

A snare in every human path —

Else how, when in the holy grove ­[page 61:]

 

I wandered of the idol, Love,

Who daily scents his snowy wings

With incense of burnt offerings

[[v]]

235

From the most unpolluted things,

Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven

[[v]]

Above with trellic’d rays from Heaven

No mote may shun — no tiniest fly —

The light’ning of his eagle eye —

240

How was it that Ambition crept,

Unseen, amid the revels there,

Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt

[[v]]

[[n]]

In the tangles of Love’s very hair?

[1827-1828 / 45]

 


[[Poe’s Footnotes to version A]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 26:]

(1)  Of the history of Tamerlane little is known; and with that little, I have taken the full liberty of a poet. — That he was descended from the family of Zinghis Khan is more than probable — but he is vulgarly supposed to have been the son of a shepherd, and to have raised himself to the throne by his own address. He died in the year 1405, in the time of Pope Innocent VII.

How I shall account for giving him “a friar,” as a death-bed confessor — I cannot exactly determine. He wanted some one to listen to his tale — and why not a friar? It does not pass the bounds of possibility — quite sufficient for my purposes — and I have at least good authority on my side for such innovations. [Poe’s note]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 28:]

(2)  The mountains of Belur Taglay are a branch of the Immaus, in the southern part of Independent Tartary. They are celebrated for the singular wildness, and beauty of their vallies. [Poe’s note]    [[n]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 31:]

(3)  I must beg the reader’s pardon for making Tamerlane, a Tartar of the fourteenth century, speak in the same language as a Boston gentleman of the nineteenth: but of the Tartar mythology we have little information. [Poe’s note]

(4)  A deity presiding over virtuous love, upon whose imaginary altar, a sacred fire was continually blazing. [Poe’s note]    [[n]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 34, running to the bottom of page 35:]

(5)  Although Tamerlane speaks this, it is not the less true. It is a matter of the ­[page 35:] greatest difficulty to make the generality of mankind believe that one, with whom they are upon terms of intimacy, shall be called, in the world, a “great man.” The reason is evident. There are few great men. Their actions are consequently viewed by the mass of people thro’ the medium of distance. — The prominent parts of their character are alone noted; and those properties, which are minute and common to every one, not being observed, seem to have no connection with a great character.

Who ever read the private memorials, correspondence, &c., which have become so common in our time, without wondering that “great men” should act and think “so abominably”? [Poe’s note]    [[n]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 35:]

(6)  That Tamerlane acquir’d his renown under a feigned name is not entirely a fiction. [Poe’s note]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 37:]

(7)  I believe it was after the battle of Angoria that Tamerlane made Samarcand his residence. It became for a time the seat of learning and the arts. [Poe’s note]

(8)  He was called Timur Bek as well as Tamerlane. [Poe’s note]

(9)  The conquests of Tamerlane far exceeded those of Zinghis Khan. He boasted to have two thirds of the world at his command. [Poe’s note]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 38:]

(10)  I have often fancied that I could distinctly hear the sound of the darkness, as it steals over the horizon — a foolish fancy perhaps, but not more unintelligible than to see music —

“The mind the music breathing from her face.” [Poe’s note]    [[n]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 39:]

(11)  There is a flow’r, (I have never known its botanic name,) vulgarly called the day flower. It blooms beautifully in the day-light, but withers towards evening, and by night its leaves appear totally shrivelled and dead. I have forgotten, however, to mention in the text, that it lives again in the morning. If it will not flourish in Tartary, I must be forgiven for carrying it thither. [Poe’s note]    [[n]]

 


[[VARIANTS to version H]]

[The following variant appears at the bottom of page 53:]

Title:  Before this is TO / JOHN NEAL / THIS POEM / IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED. (C)

[The following variant appears at the bottom of page 54:]

29  claim’d / claimed (E)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 55:]

40  Have / Hath (C, E)

42  an / one (E)

46  Appeared / Seem’d then (E)

50-51  Of human battle (near me swelling.) (E)

57  Was giantlike — so thou my mind (C, E)

64  sovereign’s throne / sovereign-throne (E)

[The following variant appears at the bottom of page 57:]

111  turn’d / turned (E)

[The following variant appears at the bottom of page 59:]

187  When towering Eagle-Hope could see (D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 61:]

235  unpolluted / undefiled (E)

237  trellic’d / trelliced (E)

243  very / brilliant (E)

 


[page 61, continued:]

NOTES

­The poem is thoroughly Byronic, and even more parallels than those here noted could probably be found to Byron’s works. Earlier commentators have noticed resemblances to Wordsworth and Coleridge, but none striking enough to convince me that Poe knew much of those authors in 1827. Line references are to the version of 1845, unless specifically marked otherwise.

1-12  Compare Byron’s Manfred, III, i, 154-158:

Old man! I do respect

Thine order, and revere thine years; I deem

Thy purpose pious, but it is in vain:

Think me not churlish; I would spare thyself,

Far more than me . . .

Killis Campbell, The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (1917), p. 149, cites also Manfred, III, i, 66-78.

15  (1827) There is a tower on the stage in Lewis’s Timour the Tartar according to Martin Shockley, “Timour the Tartar and Poe’s Tamerlane,” PMLA, December 1941 (56:1104-1105).

16-20  Compare Goldsmith’s Traveller, line 436, for “Luke’s iron crown” — a reference to the Hungarian rebel named George D√≥zsa, upon whose head a red-hot iron crown was placed in 1514. (Goldsmith confused him with his brother Luke, and Poe quoted Goldsmith’s line as Pope’s in a review of Bryant’s Poems in the Southern Literary Messenger, January 1837.)

29-30  (1831) Compare Edward C. Pinkney, “Lines from the Portfolio of H——,” I, 75-76, “An ancient notion, that time flings / Our pains and pleasures from his wings . . .” ­[page 62:]

30-34  This may allude to the royal horoscopes of Augustus Caesar and Tamerlane. Both had Saturn in the ascendant in Capricorn, and all the other planets in favorable aspects.

39  (1827) Note 2   Poe’s exact source is unknown, but Mr. Francis Paar tells me that the mountains (the Pamirs) are a branch of the Himalayas in a part of Turkestan ruled by native khans in Poe’s day. Johann Jakob Egli, Nomina Geographica (Leipzig, 1893), gives the forms Bolor-Tagh, Bélut-tagh, and Turkish Bulyt-tagh, meaning cloud mountains. Ancient geographers call the Himalayas Imaus, as does Milton, Paradise Lost, III, 431.

43  (1827) Manfred was saved from suicide by a chamois hunter.

44  (1827) Sir Walter Scott has the phrase “in pride of power” in The Lay of the Last Minstrel, Introduction, line 43.

79-99  (1831) These lines are a version of “The Lake.”

81  Poe’s hero in “Berenice” says, “To muse for long unwearied hours with my attention riveted to some frivolous device on the margin, or in the typography of a book.”

84  (1831) Sultan-like pines are thought of as turbaned; compare the “serangs” in “Irenë.”

88  The envy of the angels appears again in “Annabel Lee,” and is cited as evidence by those who would connect that poem with Elmira Royster. Poe in 1827 wrote in the album of Octavia Walton, “The following lines are fr[om] Voltaire’s story styled ‘The Princess of Babylon,’ ” and copied a passage ending “l’univers sera jaloux de lui.” L. A. Wilmer in Merlin (1827), III, iv, 1-2, speaks of “a joy that human kind can feel / And angels envy.” This is probably the earliest borrowing from Poe.

101  Poe wrote to Annie Richmond on November 16, 1848, of looking “deep into the clear Heaven of your eyes.”

102  Compare Byron, Don Juan, IV, x, 8, “Alas! There is no instinct like the Heart.”

116  Compare Byron, “The Dream,” line 51, “He had no breath, no being, but in hers.”

122-127  Poe wrote much of daydreams, and he has a passage in “Morella” on the intimate connection between a thing or a person and its name.

135-138  Richard Wilbur, Poe: Complete Poems (1959), p, 119, explains that Tamerlane’s ambition for himself was mingled with a desire to make his beloved the queen.

136-143  (1827) In 1849 Poe told Miss Susan Ingram that the perfume of orris root reminded him of his foster mother, who kept it with her linen. See the New York Herald, February 19, 1905, quoted by Woodberry, Life, II, 332. In “Berenice” the hero dreams “away whole days over the perfume of a ­[page 63:] flower,” and in “The Pit and the Pendulum” writes of one “who ponders over the perfume of some novel flower.”

139-140  Compare “Fairy-land,” lines 16-17, “its centre on the crown / Of a mountain’s eminence,” and “Serenade,” line 12, “on the spectral mountain’s crown.”

139-141   Compare Edward C. Pinkney, Rodolph, I, 10-12:

To Rodolph’s proud ancestral towers,

Whose station from its mural crown

A regal look cast sternly down.

156  (1827) Note 4   Edis is probably from Latin aedis, a small temple.

178  (1831) Bajazet was the Turkish sultan captured by Tamerlane.

178  (1827) Compare Byron, “Churchill’s Grave,” line 43, “The Glory and the Nothing of a Name.”

180  The Siroc (sirocco) and the simoom are hot winds from the desert. Both are mentioned in the 1831 version (lines 180, 186), and the simoom appears in “Al Aaraaf,” II, 165.

191  Campbell (Poems, p. 153) compares the opening of Byron’s “Monody on Sheridan”:

When the last sunshine of expiring day

In summer’s twilight weeps itself away,

Who hath not felt the softness of the hour

Sink on the heart, as dew along the flower?

With a pure feeling which absorbs and awes

While Nature makes that melancholy pause,

Her breathing moment on the bridge where Time

Of light and darkness forms an arch sublime;

Who hath not shared that calm, so still and deep,

The voiceless thought which would not speak but weep.

199-200  See Poe’s review of Harrison Ainsworth’s Guy Fawkes in Graham’s Magazine for November 1841, for a “dream . . . in which the sufferer, although making . . . efforts to run, finds a walk or a crawl” alone possible.

203  Poe refers to the coldness of the moon also in “Evening Star,” “Al Aaraaf,” II, 151, and “Ulalume.”

207-212  Wilbur (Poe, p. 118) says, “The villain of the piece is . . . Time” which cuts the hero off from his boyhood with complete imaginative power, to seek real power as a man.

212  Compare King Lear, V, ii, 11, “Ripeness is all.”

213-215   See Byron’s Don Juan, III, lii, 1-4:

He entered in the house — his home no more,

For without hearts there is no home; — and felt

The solitude of passing his own door

Without a welcome . . . ­[page 64:]

229  Eblis is Mahomet’s name for the prince of jinns and evil spirits.

239-251  (1831) These are a version of “To — —” (“Should my early life seem”).

243  Compare Milton’s Lycidas, line 69, “the tangles of Neaera’s hair.”

259  (1827) Note 5   The words “so abominably” are quoted from Hamlet, III, ii, 39.

275-276  (1827) See All’s Well That Ends Well, IV, ii, 5, “If the quick fire of youth light not your mind.”

279  (1827) Alexis is a conventional shepherd’s name, used in Vergil’s second Eclogue and Pope’s second Pastoral.

286  (1827) Byron’s line in Childe Harold, III, i, 2, “Ada! sole daughter of my house and heart,” was extremely familiar in Poe’s day, and his heroine is surely a namesake of Byron’s only legitimate child. Byron wrote John Murray, on October 8, 1820, that the name had been used in his family in Plantagenet times, that it was that of Charlemagne’s sister, and (probably) the same as Adah, wife of Lamech in Genesis 4:19. Poe omitted it in 1829, but used it in line 95 of 1831.

311  (1827) Poe echoes the opening of Bryant’s “Thanatopsis”:

To him who in the love of Nature holds

Communion with her visible forms, she speaks

A various language.

This form was in the version of 1821 and later. Compare also the first lines of Poe’s own “Stanzas” (1827) below.

337  (1827) Zinghis is Genghis Khan, a reputed ancestor of Tamerlane. See also Poe’s own first note on his poem.

339  (1827) Despite the absence of quotation marks, most of this line is taken verbatim from Byron’s Childe Harold, III, xxi, 1. In the Wilmer manuscript version of 1828 it was retained with a change of “by night” to “tonight.”

347  (1827) Compare Gray’s “Elegy,” “Melancholy mark’d him for her own.”

355  (1827) Compare Poe’s “Coliseum,” line 3, “buried centuries of pomp and power.”

373  (1827) Note 10   Poe quotes from Byron, The Bride of Abydos, I, vi, 22. See also “Marginalia,” number 32, for Poe’s fancy of a relation, which he thought might be mathematical, between a ray of orange light and the buzzing of a gnat.

389  (1827) Note 11   The dayflower is any member of the genus Commelina; the flowers last only a day. In this country members of the genus Tradescantia are also called dayflowers.

402  [[(1827)]] Compare Gray’s “Elegy,” “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen.”

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 22:]

1  For full titles see the list of Other Sources Frequently Cited, below.

 


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Notes:

In his own copy of TOM’s edition of the Poems, BRP makes several notes that should be mentioned. In the margin near the note for lines 88-89, BRP writes: “ Cunningham — Lily of Nithedale cf. my N&Q article on Scotch poem as origin, 5/1984,” referring to his article “ ‘Annabel Lee’ Traced to Cunningham’s ‘Lily of Nithsdale‘,” American Notes and Queries, 22 (May 1984), pp. 133-134.


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[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Tamerlane)