Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Poe's Valentines: An Acrostic (1829)

An Acrostic (1829)

An unpublished 9-line poem written circa 1829 for Poe's cousin Elizabeth Rebecca Herring (the acrostic is her first name, spelled out by the first letter of each line). It was never published in Poe's lifetime. James H. Whitty discovered the poem and included it in his 1911 anthology of Poe's works under the title "From an Album." It was also published in Thomas Ollive Mabbott's definitive Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe in 1969 as "An Acrostic."

The poem mentions "Endymion," possibly referring to an 1818 poem by John Keats with that name. The "L. E. L." in the third line may be Letitia Elizabeth Landon, an English poet known for signing her work with those initials. "Zantippe" in line four is actually Xanthippe, wife of Socrates. The spelling of the name was changed to fit the acrostic.

An Acrostic (1829)
Edgar Allan Poe

Elizabeth it is in vain you say
"Love not" — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.
Zantippe's talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love — was cured of all beside —
His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

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