Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (E. A. Poe), “Morella,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 221-237 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 221, continued:]

MORELLA

“Morella” is one of the great stories in Poe’s early Arabesque manner. On December 1, 1835, he wrote to Judge Beverley Tucker, “The last tale I wrote was Morella and it was my best. When I write again I will write something better. . . . What articles I have published since Morella were all written some time ago.”

The story involves the idea of metempsychosis, like several other tales by its author.* It also makes use of a widespread superstition that gods and men must answer when their right names are spoken. Poe also seems to know of a superstition that it is a most unusual, even supernatural, child who takes its first breath after its mother breathes her last.

The name of the heroine is that of a real lady of great learning, [page 222:] of whom Poe probably read in an article in The Lady’s Book for September 1834, called “Women Celebrated in Spain for their Extraordinary Powers of Mind,” from which a pertinent paragraph may be abstracted.

Juliana Morella was born in Barcelona. Her father, being obliged to leave Spain for a homicide, taught his daughter so well that at the age of twelve she publicly maintained theses in philosophy. In her tenth or seventeenth year she is said to have held a public disputation in the Jesuits’ college at Lyons. She was profoundly skilled in philosophy, divinity, music, jurisprudence and philology. She entered the convent of St. Praxedia at Avignon. She knew fourteen languages.

This lady, now known as Venerable Mother Juliana Morell (1595-1653), according to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1911), was celebrated as the fourth Grace and the tenth Muse in a poem by Lope de Vega. Her name is appropriate to Poe’s story, for “morel” is one of the names of the black nightshade, a poisonous weed related to that from which the drug belladonna is made. Poe’s heroine seems to have taken a dangerous interest in black magic, for her invocation of the Blessed Virgin (in earlier versions of the story) is appropriate to a repentant witch.

Poe’s plot comes almost entirely from a story called “The Dead Daughter” by Henry Glassford Bell, in The Edinburgh Literary Journal: or, Weekly Register of Criticism and Belles Lettres of January 1, 1831, reprinted in his book My Old Portfolio (1832).§ It tells of the family of Adolphus Walstein, who dwelt

in one of the wild valleys formed by the Rhætian Alps, which intersect Bohemia . . . [He and his wife] had one only child — a daughter — a pale but beautiful girl . . . She smiled sometimes, but very faintly. . . a lovely smile, — more lovely than it was melancholy . . . there was in her limbs none of the glowing vigour of health. . .

Much did they love that gentle child: they had nothing else in the wide world to love, save an old domestic, and a huge Hungarian dog. . . Pauliua. . . was tall beyond her years . . . fragile as the stalk of the white-crowned lilly . . .

[Hers] was no common countenance . . . the general expression was such as, once seen, haunted the memory for ever. Perhaps it was the black eye — blacker than the ebon hair — contrasted with the deadly paleness of her white-rose cheek. [page 223:] It was deep sunk, too, under her brow . . . there was a mystery in it. She had a long thin arm, and tapering fingers . . .[The touch of her hand] was in general thrillingly cold, yet at times it was feverishly hot. . . .

Pauliua. . . died upon an autumn evening [when she was thirteen years old]. She had been growing weaker for many a day, and they saw it, but spoke not of it. Nor did she; it seemed almost a pain for her to speak; and when she did, it was in a low soft tone, unaudible almost to all but the ear of affection. Yet was the mind . . . busy with . . . feverish reverie. She had strange day-dreams . . . she dwelt among the mysteries and immaterial shapes of some shadowy realm. . . . It was an autumn evening — sunny, but not beautiful — silent, but not serene. . . [She] gave a faint moan . . . her dark eye became fixed . . . and the mother carried her child’s body into its desolate home . . .

The Hungarian dog howled over the dead body of its young mistress, and the old domestic . . . wept as for her own first-born . . .

The priests came, and the coffin, and a few of the simple peasants . . . The procession winded down the valley. The tinkling of the holy bell mingled sadly with the funeral chant. . .

A year has passed away, and . . . Walstein’s wife bears him another child . . . They christened the infant Paulina . . . The babe grew, but not in the rosiness of health . . . when it wept, it was with a kind of suppressed grief, that seemed almost unnatural to one so young. It was long ere it could walk; when at last it did, it was without any previous effort . . .

Often had Philippa, with maternal fondness, pointed out to her husband the resemblance . . . between their surviving child and her whom they had laid in the grave . . . The resemblance was . . . almost supernatural. She was the same tall pale girl, with black, deep, sunk eyes, and long dark ebon hair. . . Her manners, too, her disposition, the sound of her voice, her motions, her habits, and . . . her expression of countenance . . . were the very same . . .

One night . . . Walstein entered; his eye rested on his daughter . . . His Hungarian dog was with him . . . as its own [eye] rested keenly on Paulina, the animal uttered a low growl. It was strange that the dog never seemed to love the child* . . . Walstein . . . knew . . . that the second Paulina, born after her sister’s death, was the same Paulina as she whom he had laid in the grave.

The [first] Paulina . . . had frequently dreams of a mysterious meaning, which she used to repeat to her mother . . . [Now] the living child . . . had dreamt a dream. She recited it, and Philippa shuddered to hear an exact repetition of one she well remembered listening to long ago . . . Even in sleep. . . Paulina was living over again.

Time still passed on . . . She was thirteen . . . It was manifest that she, too, was dying . . . She never spoke of her deceased sister; indeed she seldom spoke at all; but when they asked if she were well, she shook her head, and stretched an arm towards the churchyard.

To that churchyard her father went one moonlight night. . . resolved to open his daughter’s grave . . . The sexton . . . had already dug deep . . . “My digging is of no use,” said the sexton, “I am past the place where I laid the coffin; and may [page 224:] the Holy Virgin protect me, for there is not a vestige, either of it or the body left.” Walstein groaned convulsively . . . a cold hand was laid upon his shoulder. He . . . saw that his daughter stood beside him . . . fixing her quiet look upon the grave, she said — “Father I shall soon lie there.”

It was the thirteenth anniversary of Paulina’s death . . . Philippa sat by the sickbed of her last child. The sufferer. . . said, with a struggle, — “Mother, is it not a mysterious imagination, — but I feel as if I had lived before, and that my thoughts were happier and better than they are now?” Philippa shuddered . . . “It is a dream, Paulina . . . an hour’s sleep will refresh you” . . . Paulina did sleep, but there was little to refresh in such slumber . . . and her poor mother knew that the moment of dissolution was at hand: . . . a damp distillation stood upon the brow, — it was the last sign of agony which expiring nature gave.

That night Walstein dreamed a dream. Paulina.  . . stood opposite his couch . . . The vision became double . . . Walstein trembled and awoke. A strange light glanced under his chamber door . . . an indescribable impulse urged him to rush towards the room in which the body of his daughter lay . . . the door of the chamber was open; the Hungarian dog lay dead at the threshold; the corpse was gone.

Nothing essential has been omitted from the above abridgment. Poe’s supreme artistic skill is manifest here, for he transmuted the material and supplied a motive and “machinery” which Bell had practically neglected.

Poe composed “Morella” probably late in 1834 or early in 1835. The first manuscript, in a small printlike hand, was not completed. A. H. Quinn (Poe, p. 214) regarded it as completed but the presence of an asterisk for the unwritten footnote on the halcyon is decisive. Poe is said to have given it to Mrs. Sarah P. Simmons, a Baltimore neighbor, “who, on many occasions, rendered him financial and other help” between 1831 and 1835. Her daughter bequeathed it to her physician. He sold it through Eugene L. Didier in 1909. Later Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach sold it to Henry E. Huntington.

TEXTS

(A) Unfinished manuscript about 1835 in the Henry E. Huntington Library; (B) Southern Literary Messenger, April 1835 (1:448-450); (C) Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840), I, 9-18; (D) Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, [page 225:] November 1839 (5:264-266); (E) PHANTASY-PIECES, with manuscript revisions of Poe’s book (C), 1842; (F) Broadway Journal, June 21, 1845 (1:388-389); (G) Mrs. Whitman’s copy of the last with manuscript revisions (1848); (H) Works (1850), I, 469-474.

Texts (A) and (G) are given in full. The manuscript, in a small print-like hand, on both sides of one leaf, folio, does not carry Poe’s name. Many verbal changes were made from the Southern Literary Messenger (B) for the edition of 1840 (C), although none were indicated in the Duane copy. Of the twenty punctuation changes (dashes to commas or semicolons for the most part) made in PHANTASY-PIECES (E), only two were adopted in later texts. One of those not adopted was definitely a correction, and is used in the text of this edition. The version in Burton’s (D) is headed: [Extracted, by permission of the publishers, Messrs. Lea and Blanchard, from the forthcoming “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.”]

MORELLA   [A]

Αυτο καθ’ αυτο μεθ’ αυτου, μονο ειδες αιει ον.

Itself — alone by itself — eternally one and single.

PLATO — Symp.

With a feeling of deep yet most singular affection I regarded my friend Morella. Thrown by accident into her society many years ago, my soul, from our first meeting, burned with fires it had never known. But the fires were not of Eros — and bitter and tormenting to my eager spirit was the gradual conviction that I could in no manner define their unusual meaning, or regulate their vague intensity. Yet we met, and Fate bound us together at the altar, and I never spoke of love, or dreamed of passion. She, however, shunned society and attaching herself to me alone rendered me happy. It is a happiness to wonder. It is a happiness to think.

Morella’s erudition was profound. As I hope for life her talents also were of no common order — her powers of mind were gigantic. I felt this, and in many matters became her pupil. Rare and rich volumes were opened for my use; but my wife, perhaps influenced by her Presburg education, laid before me, as I took occasion to remark, chiefly those speculative writings which have, from causes to me unknown, been neglected in these latter days, and thrown aside, whether properly or not, among the mass of that German morality which is indeed purely wild, purely vague, and at times purely fantastical. These — these speculative writings were, for what reasons I could not imagine, Morella’s favourite and constant [page 226:] study, and that in process of time they became my own should be attributed to the simple but effectual influence of habit and example. In all this, if I think aright, my powers of thought predominated. My convictions, or I forget myself, were in no manner acted upon by my imagination; nor was any tincture of the mysticism which I read to be discovered, unless I greatly err, either in my meditations or my deeds. Feeling deeply persuaded of this I abandoned myself more implicitly to the guidance of my wife, and entered with a bolder spirit into the intricacy of her studies. And then — then when poring over forbidden pages I felt the consuming thirst for the unknown, would Morella place her cold hand upon mine, and rake up from the ashes of a dead philosophy words whose singular import burned themselves in upon my memory: and then hour after hour would I linger by her side, and listen to the music of her thrilling voice, until at length its melody was tinged with terror, and I grew pale, and shuddered inwardly at those too unearthly tones — and thus, suddenly, Joy faded into Horror, and the most beautiful became the most hideous as Hinnon became Ge-Henna.

It is unnecessary to state the exact character of those disquisitions which, growing out of the volumes I have mentioned, formed for so long a time almost the sole conversation of Morella and myself. By the learned in what might be called theological morality they will be readily conceived, and by the unlearned they would at all events be little understood. The wild Pantheism of Fitche, the modified Παλιγγενεσια of the Pythagoreans, and above all the doctrines of Identity as urged by Schelling were the points of discussion presenting the most of beauty to the imaginative Morella. That kind of identity which is not improperly called ‘personal’ Mr. Lock determines, truly I think, to consist in the sameness of a rational being. And since by person we understand an intelligent essence having reason, and since there is a consciousness which always accompanies thinking, it is this consciousness which makes every one to be that which he calls ‘himself’ — thereby distinguishing him from other beings that think, and giving him his personal identity. But the “principium individuationis”, the notion of that identity which at death is or is not lost forever was to me at all [page 227:] times a consideration of intense interest, not more from the exciting and mystical nature of its consequences, than from the marked and agitated manner in which Morella mentioned them.

But indeed the time had now arrived when my wife’s society oppressed me like a spell. I could no longer bear the touch of her wan fingers, nor the low tones of her musical language, nor the lustre of her eyes. And she knew all this, but did not upbraid: she seemed conscious of my weakness or my folly, and smiling called it — Fate. Yet she was woman, and pined away daily. In time the crimson spot settled steadily upon the cheek, and the blue veins upon the pale forehead became prominent: and one instant my nature melted into pity, but in the next I met the glance of her melancholy eyes, and my soul sickened and became giddy with the giddiness of one who gazes downwards into some dreary and fathomless abyss.

Shall I then say that I longed with an earnest and consuming desire for the moment of Morella’s decease? I did: but the fragile spirit clung to its tenement of clay for many days — for many weeks and irksome months — until at length my tortured nerves obtained the mastery over my mind, and I grew furious with delay, and with the heart of a fiend I cursed the hours and the bitter moments which seemed to lengthen and lengthen as her gentle life declined, like shadows in the dying of the day.

But one autumnal evening when the winds lay still in Heaven Morella called me to her side. It was that season when the beautiful Halcyon is nursed* — there was a dim mist over all the Earth, and a warm glow upon the waters, and amid the rich November leaves of the forest a rainbow from the firmament had surely fallen. As I came she was murmuring in a low under-tone which trembled with fervor some words of a catholic hymn.

Sancta Maria! turn thine eyes

Upon the sinner’s sacrifice

Of fervent prayer, and humble love,

From thy holy throne above.

 

At morn, at noon, at twilight dim

Maria! thou hast heard my hymn: [page 228:]

In Joy and Woe — in Good and Ill

Mother of God! be with me still.

 

When my hours flew gently by,

And no storms were in the sky,

My soul — lest it should truant be —

Thy love did guide to thine and thee.

 

Now — when clouds of Fate oe’rcast

All my Present, and my Past,

Let my Future radiant shine

With sweet hopes of thee and thine.

“It is a day of days” — said Morella — “a day of all days, either to live or die. It is a fair day for the sons of Earth and Life — ah! more fair for the daughters of Heaven and Death!” I turned towards her and she continued.

“I am dying — yet shall I live. Therefore for me, Morella, thy wife, hath the charnel-house no terrors — mark me! — not even the terrors of the worm. The days have never been when thou couldst love me; but her whom in life thou didst abhor in death thou shalt adore. I repeat that I am dying — but within me is a pledge of that affection — ah, how little! — which thou didst feel for me — Morella. And when my spirit departs shall the child live — thy child and mine, Morella’s. But thy days shall be days of sorrow — sorrow, which is the most lasting of impressions, as the cypress is the most enduring of trees. For the hours of thy happiness are past, and Joy is not gathered twice in a life, as the roses of Pæstum twice in a year. Thou shalt not, then, play the Teian with Time, but, being ignorant of the flowers and the vine, thou shalt walk the earth with thy shroud around thee, like Moslemin at Mecca”.

“How knowest thou this” — I demanded eagerly — “how knowest thou all this, Morella?” But she turned away her face upon the pillow, and a slight tremor coming over her limbs, she thus died, and I heard her voice no more.

Yet, as she had predicted, the child — to which in dying she had given life, and which breathed not till the mother breathed no more — the child, a daughter, lived. And she grew strangely in size, and in intelligence, and I loved her with a love more fervent and more holy than I thought it possible to feel on earth.

[No more was written of this version — ED]

 


[page 229:]

MORELLA   [G]

Αυτο καθ’ αυτο μεθ’ αυτου, μονο ειδες αιει ον.

Itself, by itself solely, ONE everlastingly, and single.

PLATOSympos.   [[v]]   [[n]]

With a feeling of deep yet{a} most singular affection I regarded my friend Morella. Thrown by accident into her society many years ago, my soul, from our first meeting, burned with fires it had never before{b} known; but the fires were not of Eros, and bitter and tormenting to my{c} spirit was the gradual conviction that I could in no manner define their unusual meaning, or regulate their vague intensity. Yet we met; and fate bound us together at the altar; and I never spoke of {dd}passion, nor thought of love.{dd} She, however, shunned society, and, attaching herself to me alone, rendered me happy. It is a happiness to wonder; — it is a happiness to dream.{e}

Morella’s erudition was profound. As I hope to live,{f} her talents{g} were of no common order — her powers of mind were gigantic. I felt this, and, in many matters, became{h} her pupil. {ii}I soon, however, found that,{j} perhaps on account of her Presburg education,(1) she placed{k} before me a number of those mystical writings which are usually considered the mere dross of the early German literature. These, for what reason{l} I could not imagine, were her{ii} favorite and constant study — and that, in process of time they became my own, should be attributed to the simple but effectual influence of habit and example. [page 230:]

In all this, {mm}if I err not, my reason had little to do.{mm} My convictions, or I forget myself, were in no manner acted upon by {nn}the ideal,{nn} nor was any tincture of the mysticism which I read, to be discovered, unless {oo}I am greatly mistaken, either in my deeds or in my thoughts.{oo} Persuaded{p} of this, I abandoned myself{q} implicitly to the guidance of my wife, and entered with {rr}an unflinching heart{rr} into the intricacies{s} of her studies. And then — then, when, poring{t} over forbidden pages, I felt {uu}a forbidden spirit enkindling within me(2) — would{uu} Morella place her cold hand upon my own,{v} and rake up from the ashes of a dead philosophy — {ww}some low singular words, whose strange meaning{ww} burned{x} themselves in upon my memory. And then, hour after hour, would I linger by her side, and dwell upon{y} the music of her{z} voice — until, at length, its melody was tainted, with {bb}terror, — and there fell{c} a shadow upon my soul — and{d} I{bb} grew pale, and shuddered inwardly{e} at those too unearthly tones. And thus, {ff}joy suddenly{ff} faded into horror, and the most beautiful became the most hideous, as Hinnom{g} became Ge-Henna.(3)

It is unnecessary to state the exact character of those{h} disquisitions which, growing out of the volumes I have mentioned, formed, for so long a time, almost the sole conversation of Morella and myself. By the learned in what might be termed{i} theological morality they will be readily conceived, and by the unlearned they would, at all events, be little understood. The wild Pantheism of Fiche;{j} the modified Παλιγγενεσια of the{k} Pythagoreans; and, [page 231:] above all, the doctrines of Identity as urged by Schelling, were generally{l} the points of discussion presenting the most of beauty to the imaginative Morella. That{m} identity which is{nn} termed personal, Mr. Locke, I think, truly defines{nn} to consist in the sameness{o} of a rational being. And since by person we understand an intelligent essence having reason, and since there is a consciousness which always accompanies thinking, it is this{p} which makes us all{q} to be that which {rr}we call ourselves{rr} — thereby distinguishing use from other beings that think, and giving us our{t} personal identity. But the {uu}principium individuationis,{uu} the notion of that identity which at death is or is not lost forever, was to me,{v} at all times, a consideration of intense interest;(4) not more from the perplexing{w} and exciting{x} nature of its consequences, than from the marked and agitated manner in which Morella mentioned them.

But, indeed, the time had now arrived when {yy}the mystery of my wife’s manner{yy} oppressed me as{z} a spell.(5) I could no longer bear the touch of her wan fingers, nor the low tone{a} of her musical language, nor the lustre of her melancholy{b} eyes. And she knew all this, but did not upbraid; she seemed conscious of my weakness or my folly, and, smiling, called it Fate. {cc}She seemed, also, conscious of a cause, to me unknown, for the gradual alienation of my regard; but she gave me no hint or token of its nature.{cc} Yet was she{d} woman, and pined away daily. In time, the crimson spot settled steadily upon the cheek, and the blue veins upon the pale forehead became prominent; and, one instant, my nature melted into pity, but, in the next, I met the glance of her meaning{e} eyes, and then{f} my soul [page 232:] sickened and became giddy with the giddiness of one who gazes downward{g} into some dreary and unfathomable{h} abyss.

Shall I then say that I longed with an earnest and consuming desire for the moment of Morella’s decease? I did; but the fragile spirit clung to its tenement of clay for many days — for many weeks and irksome months — until{i} my tortured nerves obtained the mastery over my mind, and I grew furious through{j} delay, and, with the heart of a fiend,{k} cursed the days, and{l} the hours, and the bitter moments, which seemed to lengthen and lengthen as her gentle life declined — like shadows in the dying of the day.

But one autumnal evening, when the winds lay still in heaven,(6) Morella called me to her bed-side.{m} There{n} was a dim mist over all the earth, and a warm glow upon the waters, and, amid the rich October{o} leaves of the forest, a rainbow from the firmament had surely fallen.{p}

“It is a day of {qq}days,” she said, as I approached;{qq} “a day of all days either to live or die. It is a fair day for the sons of earth and life — ah, more fair for the daughters{r} of heaven and death!”(7)

{ss}I kissed her forehead,{ss} and she continued:

{tt}“I am dying, yet shall I live.”

“Morella!”{tt}

“The days have never been when thou couldst love me — but{u} her whom in life thou didst abhor, in death thou shalt adore.”

“Morella!”{v}

“I repeat that I am dying. But within me is a pledge of that [page 233:] affection — ah, how little! — which {ww}thou didst feel{ww} for me, Morella. And {xx}when my spirit departs{xx} shall the child live — thy child and mine, Morella’s. But thy days shall be days of sorrow — that{y} sorrow which is the most lasting of impressions, as the cypress is the most enduring of trees.(8) For the hours of thy happiness are over;{z} and joy is not gathered twice in a life, as the roses of Pæstum twice in a year.(9) Thou shalt no longer,{a} then, play the Teian(10) with time, but, being ignorant of the myrtle{b} and the vine, thou shalt {cc}bear about with thee thy shroud on{d} earth, as do{e} the Moslemin at Mecca.”{cc} (11)

{ff}“Morella!” I cried, “Morella! how knowest thou this?”{ff} — but she turned away her face upon the pillow, and, a slight tremor coming over her limbs, she thus died, and I heard her voice no more.

Yet, as she had foretold, her{g} child — to which in dying she had given birth, and{h} which breathed not until{i} the mother breathed no more — her{j} child, a daughter, lived. And she grew strangely in stature{k} and {ll}intellect, and was the perfect resemblance of her who had departed, and I loved her with a love more fervent{m} than I had{n} believed it possible to feel {oo}for any denizen of{oo} earth. {ll}

But, ere long, the heaven of this pure affection became darkened,{p} and gloom, and horror, and grief, swept{q} over it in clouds. I said the child grew strangely in stature and intelligence. Strange indeed was her rapid increase in bodily size — but terrible,{r} oh! [page 234:] terrible were the tumultuous thoughts which crowded upon me while watching the development of her mental being. Could it be otherwise, when I daily discovered in the conceptions of the child the adult powers and faculties of the woman? — when the lessons of experience fell from the lips of infancy? and when the wisdom or the passions of maturity I found hourly gleaming{s} from its full and speculative eye?(12) When, I say, all this became evident to my appalled senses — when I could no longer hide it from my soul, nor throw it off from those perceptions which trembled to receive it — is it to be wondered at that suspicions, of a nature fearful and exciting, crept in upon my spirit, or that my thoughts fell back aghast upon the wild tales and thrilling theories of the entombed Morella? I snatched from the scrutiny of the world a being whom destiny compelled me to adore, and in the rigorous{t} seclusion of my home,{u} watched with an agonizing anxiety over all which concerned {vv}the beloved.{vv}

And, as years rolled away, and {ww}I gazed, day after day,{ww} upon her {xx}holy, and mild, and eloquent{xx} face, and pored{y} over her maturing form, {zz}day after day{zz} did I discover new points of resemblance in the child to her mother, the melancholy and the dead. And, hourly, grew darker these shadows{a} of similitude, and{b} more full, and more definite, and more perplexing, and {cc}more hideously{cc} terrible in their aspect. For that her smile was like her mother’s I could bear; but then I shuddered at its too perfect identity — that her eyes were {dd}like Morella’s{dd} I could endure; but then they {ee}too often looked down{ee} into the depths of my soul with Morella’s own{f} intense and bewildering meaning. And in the contour of the high forehead, and in the ringlets of the silken hair, and in the wan fingers which buried themselves therein, and in the sad{g} musical tones of her speech, and above all — oh, above all — in the phrases and expressions of the dead on the lips of the loved and [page 235:] the living, I found food for constuning thought and horror — for a worm that would{h} not die.(13)

Thus passed away two lustra{i} (14) of her life, {jj}and, as yet,{jj} my daughter remained nameless upon the earth. “My child” and “my love” were the designations usually prompted by a father’s affection, and the rigid seclusion of her days precluded all other intercourse. Morella’s name died with her at her death.(15) Of the mother I had never spoken to the daughter; — it was impossible to speak. Indeed, during the brief period of her existence the latter had received no impressions from the outward world save{k} such as might have been afforded by the narrow limits of her privacy. But at length the ceremony of baptism presented to my mind, in its unnerved and agitated condition, a present deliverance from the terrors{l} of my destiny. And at the baptismal font{m} I hesitated for a name. And many titles of the wise and beautiful, of old{n} and modern times, of my own and foreign lands, came thronging to my lips, with{o} many, many fair titles of the gentle, and the happy, and the good. What prompted me, then, to disturb the memory of the buried dead? What demon urged me to breathe that sound, which, in its very recollection was wont to make ebb{p} the purple blood in torrents{q} from the temples to the heart? What fiend spoke from the recesses of my soul, when, amid those dim aisles, and in the silence of the night, I whispered{r} within the ears of the holy man the syllables — Morella? What more than fiend convulsed the features of my child, and overspread them with{s} hues of death, as,{t} starting at that {uu}scarcely audible{uu} sound, she turned her glassy eyes from the earth to heaven, and, falling prostrate on{v} the black slabs of our{w} ancestral vault, responded — “I am here!”

Distinct, coldly, calmly {xx}distinct, fell those few simple sounds [page 236:] within my ear, and thence, like molten lead, rolled hissingly into my brain.{xx} Years — years may pass{y} away, but the memory of that epoch — never! Nor{z} was I indeed ignorant of the flowers and the vine(16) — but the hemlock and the cypress overshadowed me night and day. And I kept no reckoning of time or place, and the stars of my fate faded from heaven and {aa}therefore the earth grew dark, and its figures{aa} passed by me, like flitting shadows, and among them all I beheld only — Morella. The winds of the firmament breathed but one sound within my ears, and the ripples upon the sea murmured evermore — Morella. But she died; and with my own hands I bore her to the tomb; and I laughed with a long and bitter laugh as I found no traces of the first, in the charnel where I laid the second — Morella.

 


[[Poe’s Footnotes (for version A]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 227:]

[* The footnote was not written out — ED.]

 


VARIANTS

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 229:]

Motto:  The Greek line is in Roman letters (B); the English portion reads Itself — alone by itself — eternally one [not italicized in A] and single (A, B, C, D, E)

a  but (B)

b  Omitted (A, B)

c  my eager (A, B)

dd . . . dd  love, or dreamed of passion. (A); love, or thought of passion. (B)

e  think. (A)

f  to live, / for life (A)

g  talents also (A)

h  because (H) misprint

ii . . . ii  Rare and rich volumes were opened for my use; but my wife, perhaps influenced by her Presburg education, laid before me, as I took occasion to remark, chiefly those speculative writings which have, from causes to me unknown, been neglected in these latter days, and thrown aside, whether properly or not, among the mass of that German morality which is indeed purely wild, purely vague, and at times purely fantastical. These — these speculative writings were, for what reasons I could not imagine, Morella’s (A)

j  that, / that Morella, (B)

k  she placed / laid (B)

l  reasons (B, C, D, E)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 230:]

mm . . . mm  if I think aright, my powers of thought predominated. (A)

nn . . . nn  my imagination; (A, B)

oo . . . oo  I greatly err, either in my meditations or my deeds. (A)

p  Feeling deeply persuaded (A, B, C, D, E)

q  myself more (A, B)

rr . . . rr  a bolder spirit (A, B)

s  intricacy (A, B)

t  pouring (F, G, H) misprint

uu . . . uu  the consuming thirst for the unknown, would (A); the spirit kindle within me, would (B)

v  my own, / mine, (A)

ww . . . ww  words whose singular import (A)

x  burnt (B)

y  dwell upon / listen to (A)

z  her thrilling (A, B)

a  tinged (A, B)

bb . . . bb  terror, and I (A)

c  there fell / fell like (B, C, D, E)

d  and canceled in E

e  inwardly canceled in E

ff . . . ff  suddenly, Joy (A)

g  Hinnon (A, B, C, D, E, F, H) corrected in G

h  these (B)

i  called (A)

j  Fitche, (A, B)

k  Omitted (H)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 231:]

l  Omitted (A)

m  That kind of (A)

nn . . . nn  not improperly called ‘personal’ Mr. Lock determines, truly, I think, (A); not improperly called Personal, I think Mr. Locke truly defines (B)

o  saneness (H) misprint

p  this consciousness (A)

q  us all / every one (A)

rr . . . rr  he calls ‘himself’ (A)

s  him (A)

t  us our / him his (A)

uu . . . uu  “principium individuationis”, (A); Principium Individuationis — (B); principium individuationis — (C, D, F, G, H) comma adopted from A and Poe’s manuscript correction in E

v  me — (F, G, H) comma adopted from B, C, D, E

w  exciting (A); mystical (B, C, D, E)

x  mystical (A)

yy . . . yy  my wife’s society (A)

z  like (A, B)

a  tones (A)

b  Omitted (A)

cc . . . cc  Omitted (A)

d  was she / she was (A)

e  melancholy (A)

f  Omitted (A, B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 232:]

g  downwards (A)

h  fathomless (A, B)

i  until at length (A)

j  with (A, B)

k  fiend I (A, B)

l  the days, and omitted (A)

m  side. (A, B, C, D) changed in E

n  It was that season when the beautiful Halcyon is nursed* — there (A) [The footnote was not written out.]

o  November (A)

p  After this: As I came she was murmuring in a low under-tone which trembled with fervor some words of a catholic hymn. This sentence is followed in A, B, C, and D by the hymn as in A except that C and D have a for the in the second line. The poem was canceled in E.

qq . . . qq  days” — said Morella — (A, B, C, D, E)

r  daughter’s (C) corrected in E

ss . . . ss  I turned towards her (A, B, C, D, E)

tt . . . tt  “I am dying, yet shall I live. Therefore for me, Morella, thy wife, hath the charnel-house no terrors — mark me! — not even the terrors of the worm. [the worm. B, C, D, E] (A, B, C, D, E)

u  Almost illegible in A

v  Omitted (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 233:]

ww . . . ww  you felt (B, C, D) changed back to A reading in E

xx . . . xx  when my spirit departs (A)

y  Omitted (A)

z  past, (A)

a  no longer, / not, (A, B)

b  flowers (A)

cc . . . cc  walk the earth with thy shroud around thee, like Moslemin at Mecca”. (A)

d  on the (H)

e  as do / like (B)

ff . . . ff  “How knowest thou this” — I demanded eagerly — “how knowest thou all this, Morella?” (A)

g  foretold, her / predicted, the (A); foreseen, her (B)

h  birth and / life, and (A); birth, (H)

i  till (A, B)

j  the (A)

k  size, (A, B)

ll . . . ll  in intelligence, and I loved her with a love more fervent and more holy than I thought it possible to feel on earth. (A) The manuscript ends here.

m  fervent and more intense (B, C, D) changed in E

n  Omitted (B)

oo . . . oo  on (B)

p  overcast, (B, C) changed in E; disturbed, (D)

q  came (B)

r  terriable, (F, G) misprint

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 234:]

s  gleaning (D) misprint

t  rigid (B); vigorous (D) misprint

u  ancestral home, I (B); old ancestral home, (C, D, E)

vv . . . vv  my daughter. (B)

ww . . . ww  daily I gazed (B)

xx . . . xx  eloquent and mild and holy (B)

y  poured (F, G, H) misprint

zz . . . zz  Omitted (B)

a  shadows, as it were, (B)

b  and became (B)

cc . . . cc  to me more (B)

dd . . . dd  Morella’s own (B)

ee . . . ee  looked down too often (B)

f  Omitted (B)

g  Omitted (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 235:]

h  would (B)

i  lustrums (B, C, D) changed in E

jj . . . jj  yet (B); but (C, D, E)

k  but (B, C, D) changed in E

l  horrors (B)

m  fount (F, G, H) misprint

n  antique (B)

o  lips, with / lips — and (B, C, D, E)

p  ebb and flow (B)

q  tides (B)

r  shrieked (B, C, D) changed in E

s  with the (B, C, D, E)

t  as, / as (F, G, H) comma added from B, C, D, E

uu . . . uu  Omitted (B, C, D); low (E)

v  upon (B)

w  her (B)

xx . . . xx  distinct — like a knell of death — horrible, horrible death, sank the eternal sounds within my soul. (B, C, D, E)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 236:]

y  roll (B, C, D, E)

z  Now (B, C, D, E)

aa . . . aa  my spirit grew dark, and the figures of the earth (B)

 


[page 236, continued:]

NOTES

Motto:  This is from Plato’s Symposium, 211b. Poe found it in Henry Nelson Coleridge’s Introductions to the Study of the Greek Classic Poets (Philadelphia reprint, 1831), p. 32. The English of earlier versions is from Coleridge, that in later versions is Poe’s own. Palmer Holt in American Literature (March 1962) points out that Poe often quoted from this book in “Pinakidia” and “Never Bet the Devil Your Head.” He also drew from it in some of his poems.

1.  Presburg (Presburg), where the kings of Hungary were crowned, was the seat of a university and was thought to be a home of black magic. Poe has another character connected with the place in “Von Kempelen and His Discovery.”

2.  Compare “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The vast extent of his reading . . . I felt my soul enkindled by the wild fervor of his imagination.”

3.  The following from Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651), Part III, Chapter 38, may clarify Poe’s allusions:

There was a place near Jerusalem, called the Valley of the Children of Hinnon; in a part whereof, called Tophet, the Jews had committed most grievous idolatry, sacrificing their children to the idol Moloch . . . and wherein Josias had burnt the priests of Moloch upon their own altars . . . the place served afterwards to receive the filth and garbage . . . out of the city; and there used to be fires made, from time to time, to purify the air and take away the stench of carrion. From this abominable place the Jews used . . . to call the place of the damned . . . Gehenna, or Valley of Hinnon . . . Gehenna is . . . usually now translated [page 237:] Hell; and from the fires . . . there burning, we have the notion of everlasting and unquenchable fire.

In the manuscript (A) and in the published texts collated Poe followed the spelling Hinnon, as did Hobbes in all the scholarly editions consulted.

4.  Poe here expresses one of his own strong interests. Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), a follower of Kant, postulated a Moral Will of the Universe, an absolute Ego from which all derives. Poe often misspells the name as Fitche. Palingenesia is “birth again,” or metempsychosis. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775-1854) urged his ideas in many places in his writings; Poe alludes indirectly to his theory of identity in the passage dropped from “Loss of Breath” in 1845. John Locke’s definition mentioned is in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), II, xxvii, 9.

5.  Compare Politian, VI, 55 “. . . it oppresses me like a spell.”

6.  Compare the corresponding paragraph in the early manuscript version of the story (A, above) and “Berenicë” at note 10. Poe apparently discovered his mistake when he looked up the quotation for his footnote — and thereupon transferred the allusion, corrected, to the other tale.

7.  Compare Genesis 6:2, “ . . . the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.”

8.  On the cypress — “consecrated to Dis, and consequently placed at the doors of houses as a sign of mourning” — see Pliny, Natural History, XVI, 60. These dark trees are used significantly in “Ulalume.”

9.  See Vergil’s Georgics, IV, 119, for biferique rosaria Paesti, the “rose gardens of Paestum, blooming twice” a year.

10.  The Teian is Anacreon of Teos; compare Byron’s Childe Harold, II, Ixiii, 3-4, “Love conquers age . . . / So sings the Teian, and he sings in sooth.” This theme is common in the Anacreontea, so popular in Moore’s version. (Compare “Shadow” at n. 7.)

11.  Reference is to a custom of burying one who had made the pilgrimage to Meeca in the robe worn in that city. A similar reference appears in a canceled passage at n. 8 in “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

12.  Compare “Romance,” line 10, “A child — with a most knowing eye.”

13.  See Isaiah 66:24, “. . . their worm shall not die,” and “Ulalume,” line 43, “These cheeks, where the worm never dies.”

14.  A lustrum is five years. Poe was fond of the term, and used it also in “Metzengerstein,” “Eleonora,” “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” and “Three Sundays in a Week.”

15.  Compare “Tamerlane,” lines 126-127, “Thine image and — a name — a name! / Two separate — yet most intimate things.”

16.  Compare Byron, “On this day I complete my Thirty-sixth Year,” line 6, “The flowers and fruits of love are gone.”

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 221:]

*  “Metzengerstein” (where see my notes), “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains,” and “The Black Cat” involve regular reincarnation, like “Morella.” “Ligeia” (which has many parallels to “Morella”) involves something like it, as perhaps does “Eleonora.”

  Observe the Romans keeping secret the true names of both Rome and its patron goddess; and Jewish avoidance of speaking the name of God that is printed as Jehovah in the King James version of the Bible.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 222:]

  There is a summary of the literature about this Dominican nun by S. Griswold Morley in the Hispanic Review (1941), 9:137-150.

§  This was discussed by Walter G. Neale in American Literature (May 1937). Poe’s debt was pointed out in 1885 by John Nichol in his article on Bell in the Dictionary of National Biography.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 223:]

*  The big dog (who came from a home of black magic) sensed that the second Paulina was a revenant.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 224:]

  See the Baltimore Sun, March 15, 1909, and Mary E. Phillips, Edgar Allan Poe the Man (1926), I, 478. Miss Phillips gives the name of the first recipient’s husband as Samuel F. Simmons and her address as in Baltimore. A statement that the story was among the original eleven of the Folio Club is erroneous.

  The text of the manuscript, HM 1726, is printed here by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - TOM2T, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Morella)