Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Enigma" Published 1833

Enigma (1833)

First printed in the February 2, 1833, issue of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, "Enigma" is a riddle that hints at 11 authors. Line two, for example, references Homer and the ninth refers to Alexander Pope. It was signed only with "P," though Thomas Ollive Mabbott attributed the poem to Poe - and solved the riddles.

For the Baltimore Visiter

The noblest name in Allegory's page,
The hand that traced inexorable rage;
A pleasing moralist whose page refined,
Displays the deepest knowledge of the mind;
A tender poet of a foreign tongue,
(Indited in the language that he sung.)
A bard of brilliant but unlicensed page
At once the shame and glory of our age,
The prince of harmony and stirling sense,
The ancient dramatist of eminence,
The bard that paints imagination's powers,
And him whose song revives departed hours,
Once more an ancient tragic bard recall,
In boldness of design surpassing all.
These names when rightly read, a name [make] known
Which gathers all their glories in its own.

-The End-

Baltimore Saturday Visiter, Feb. 2, 1833

This poem is attributed to Poe by Thomas Ollive Mabbott, who also gives the answers to the puzzles as:

line - author:

1 - Spenser
2 - Homer
3-4 - Aristotle
5-6 - Kallimachos
7-8 - Shelley
9 - Alexander Pope
10 - Euripides
11 - Mark Akenside
12 - Samuel Rogers
13-14 - Euripidies
15-16 - William Shakespeare

[As evidenced by his Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), Poe was fond of the rhyme of "power" and "hour," here used in plural form.]

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