Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (and E. A. Poe), “To [Elmira],” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 132-133 (This material is protected by copyright)


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Killis Campbell thought (Poems, p. 194) that these lines refer to Elnrira Royster Shelton and that lines 11 and 12 may refer to the wealth of her successful suitor and husband, Alexander Barret Shelton, who later left her fifty thousand dollars. See my notes on “The Happiest Day” of 1827.



(A) Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829), p. 62; (B) the Herring copy of Al Aaraaf . . . with revisions, 1845; (C) Broadway Journal, September 20, 1845 (2:164); (D) The Raven and Other Poems (1845), p. 87; (E) Works (1850), II, 104.

Text D, not verbally different from C and E, is used.


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Title:  To — — (A, B)

11  the truth / truth (A)

12  baubles / trifles (A)


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1-3  Probably this conceit is influenced by E. C. Pinkney’s famous “Health,” quoted in Poe’s essay, “The Poetic Principle”:

Her every tone is music’s own, like those of morning birds,

And something more than melody dwells ever in her words;

The coinage of her heart are they, and from her lips each flows

As one may see the burthened bee forth issue from the rose.

In Titus Andronicus, III, i, 85, Lavinia’s tongue is compared to “a sweet melodious bird.”

4  The implication is of falsity, mere words.

8  Compare “Al Aaraaf,” II, 16-17: “. . . stars . . . besilvering the pall.”

11-12  Wilbur, Poe (1959), p. 131, questions whether the poem is about a “priceless” dead love or an untruthful lady. The poem seems to me definitely to reproach the person addressed.






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