Monday, February 15, 2010

Poe's Valentines: Elizabeth (1829)

Elizabeth (1829)

Believed to have been written in 1829, "Elizabeth" was never published in Poe's lifetime. It was written for his Baltimore cousin, Elizabeth Rebecca Herring. Poe also wrote "An Acrostic" to her as well as the poem that would become "To F——s S. O——d."

Edgar Allan Poe

Elizabeth, it surely is most fit
[Logic and common usage so commanding]
In thy own book that first thy name be writ,
Zeno and other sages notwithstanding;
And I have other reasons for so doing
Besides my innate love of contradiction;
Each poet - if a poet - in pursuing
The muses thro' their bowers of Truth or Fiction,
Has studied very little of his part,
Read nothing, written less - in short's a fool
Endued with neither soul, nor sense, nor art,
Being ignorant of one important rule,
Employed in even the theses of the school-
Called - I forget the heathenish Greek name
[Called anything, its meaning is the same]
"Always write first things uppermost in the heart."

Mrs. Elizabeth Rebecca Tutt

Born: October 13, 1815 - Died: 1889

Cousin of Edgar Allan Poe. Elizabeth Rebecca Herring was born in Baltimore, MD, and baptized on January 23, 1816 at St. Pauls Episcopal Church. Her parents were Elizabeth Poe and Henry Herring. She married Andrew Turner Tutt on December 2, 1834. Mr. Tutt, who lived in Woodville, VA, died a short time after the marriage. Some time between 1842 and 1849, she married Edmund Morton Smith, the headmaster of a school for boys in Baltimore, MD. (She and her husband are said to have attended Poe's funeral.)

Edgar Allan Poe to Elizabeth R. Tutt — July 7, 1842

July 7, 1842

[[. . . .]] My dear little wife grew much better from the very first day after taking the Jew’s Beer. It seemed to have the most instantaneous and miraculous effect. [[. . . .]] About ten days ago, however, I was obliged to go on to New York on business [[. . . .]] she began to fret [[. . . .]] because she did not hear from me twice a day. [[. . . .]] What it is to be pestered with a wife! [[. . . .]] I have resigned the editorship of “Graham’s Magazine” [[. . . .]]


In a curious little pamphlet called “Recipts for Family Medicines that will Cure All Ills that Flesh is Heir to,” by Mrs. A. W. Chantry (Philadelphia: Duross Brothers, 1866), appears (on p. 8) the following recipe for Jews’ Beer: “Take Water, 3 quarts; Wheat Bran, 1 quart; Tar, 1 pint; Honey, half a pint; simmer together three hours, and when cold, add a pint of brewers’ Yeast; let it stand thrirty-six hours, and bottle it; a wineglassfull three or four times a day. It has cured many in the first stage of consumption. Try it, no matter how bad you are; it will relieve and help you.”

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