Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (and E. A. Poe), “The Divine Right of Kings,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 382-385 (This material is protected by copyright)


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­[page 382, continued:]

THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS

This and “Stanzas [to F.S.O.]” are companion pieces, and they may most profitably be discussed together. Both were first published with the printed signature “P.,” in separate issues of the “twenty-seventh” volume of Graham’s Magazine — that for July to December 1845. A bound copy of this volume, with pencil markings made by a former owner who has been identified as Mrs. Osgood, was found about fifty years ago by J. H. Whitty. He said that in the signature of both poems she filled in the letters missing from Poe’s name and marked some passages in her own contributions to the magazine. Whitty at once announced his discovery in the press, and reprinted both pieces, with his reasons for their inclusion, in his second edition of Poe’s Complete Poems ­[page 383:] in 1917.(1) But Whitty mingled fact and fancy in a confusing way, and avoided showing anyone the marked copy of Graham’s. Hence Killis Campbell remarked, “Further evidence must be forthcoming . . . before we can be sure that these two poems are Poe’s.”(2)

New evidence has been found. In the volume of Graham’s for 1845 acquired by the Boston Public Library before 1890, a manuscript note ascribes “The Divine Right of Kings” to Poe. The existence of the tradition independent of Whitty seems to me sufficient for acceptance of the poems. They fit well with all now known of the relations of Mrs. Osgood and Poe. That Poe had a ready market for such innocuously graceful poems goes almost without saying.

“The Divine Right of Kings” was thought by Whitty to be a reply to a passage marked by Mrs. Osgood in her rather indiscreet story “Ida Grey,” published in Graham’s for August 1845. Poe sometimes used “Edward S. T. Grey” as a pseudonym, and the hero of the story is a married man described as very like him. The passage to which the poem may allude reads: “He bids me tell him that I love him, as proudly as if he had a right . . . a divine right to demand my love.”

There is good reason to agree with Whitty that Mrs. Osgood sometimes used “Ellen” as a nom de plume. It was the given name of her eldest daughter, and among the notices “To Readers and Correspondents” (obviously by Poe) in the Broadway Journal of March 22, 1845, we find: “Is there no hope of our hearing from Ellen of the C.M.?” In the Columbian Magazine for March 1845 (3:133) is a poem “To the Evening Star,” signed “Ellen,” ‘which is very much in the manner of Mrs. Osgood. She had a signed ­[page 384:] poem, “To Amelia Welby,” in the same issue (3:110), which would have been a good reason to use a pseudonym for the second poem. “Ellen’s” verses do not concern Poe, but are about spirits who “soar upward to” a star and “gaze . . . upon the friends they love.”

 

TEXTS

(A) Graham’s Magazine for October 1845 (27:189); (B) Complete Poems, edited by J. H. Whitty (second edition, 1917), p. 150, where in line 10 “with” appears instead of “and.”

Our text follows that of the original publication (A).

 


[page 384, continued:]

NOTES

2  No satisfactory explanation of the second name of “Ellen King” has as yet been offered.

4  In “Ida Grey” the heroine addresses to her lover a poem beginning “Had we but met in life’s delicious spring,” which also may be seen in Mrs. Osgood’s Poems (1849), pp. 115-118. In it she says that, because she met her true love too late, she feels that she is “a soul-worn slave in Custom’s iron chain.” This may well be an allusion to Hiram Powers’ celebrated statue, “The Greek Slave,” which received a great deal of publicity in 1845 and about which ­[page 385:] Mrs. Browning was to write a poem. The statue represents a girl exposed for sale in a Turkish slave market, nude and manacled.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 383:]

1  See New York Sun, November 21, 1915; Nation, January 27, 1916; Complete Poems (1917), pp. 148-150, 320-321. Whitty does not repeat in his book all that he said in the Nation. He suggests that R. W. Griswold and he himself had owned the volume marked by Mrs. Osgood, but William H. Koester did not find it in the Poeana he bought from Whitty’s family. Whitty’s texts in the Complete Poems show bad misprints.

2  The Mind of Poe (1933), p. 209. Miss Helen I. Tetlow, great-niece of Mrs. Osgood, told me of a family tradition that there was an uncollected Poe poem relating to that poetess, in Graham’s in 1845; and that there was an article about it in the Springfield Republican. An undated clipping once owned by Miss Tetlow has been lost.

 


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Notes:

None.


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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) (The Divine Right of Kings)