Israfel*

Edgar Allan Poe - 1809-1849
     In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
         “Whose heart-strings are a lute;”
      None sing so wildly well
     As the angel Israfel,
     And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
     Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
         Of his voice, all mute.

     Tottering above
         In her highest noon
         The enamoured moon
     Blushes with love,
         While, to listen, the red levin
         (With the rapid Pleiads, even,
         Which were seven,)
         Pauses in Heaven

     And they say (the starry choir
         And all the listening things)
     That Israfeli’s fire
     Is owing to that lyre
         By which he sits and sings—
     The trembling living wire
     Of those unusual strings.

  * And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lut, and
  who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.—KORAN.

     But the skies that angel trod,
         Where deep thoughts are a duty—
     Where Love’s a grown up God—
         Where the Houri glances are
     Imbued with all the beauty
         Which we worship in a star.

     Therefore, thou art not wrong,
         Israfeli, who despisest
     An unimpassion’d song:
     To thee the laurels belong
         Best bard, because the wisest!
     Merrily live, and long!

     The extacies above
         With thy burning measures suit—
     Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
         With the fervor of thy lute—
         Well may the stars be mute!

     Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
         Is a world of sweets and sours;
         Our flowers are merely—flowers,
     And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
         Is the sunshine of ours.

     If I could dwell
     Where Israfel
         Hath dwelt, and he where I,
     He might not sing so wildly well
         A mortal melody,
     While a bolder note than this might swell
         From my lyre within the sky.

More by Edgar Allan Poe

Lenore

Ah broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!--a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear?--weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read--the funeral song be sung!--
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young--
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
"And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her--that she died!
"How shall the ritual, then, be read?--the requiem how be sung
"By you--by yours, the evil eye,--by yours, the slanderous tongue
"That did to death the innocent that died, and died so young?"

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel so wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride--
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes--
The life still there, upon her hair--the death upon her eyes.

"Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
"But waft the angel on her flight with a Pæan of old days!
"Let no bell toll!--lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
"Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damnéd Earth.
"To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven--
"From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven--
"From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven."

A Dream Within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow:
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep 
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

El Dorado

   Gaily bedight,
   A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
   Had journeyed long,
   Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

   But he grew old,
   This knight so bold,
And o'er his heart a shadow
   Fell as he found
   No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

   And, as his strength
   Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow;
   "Shadow," said he,
   "Where can it be,
This land of Eldorado?"

   "Over the mountains
   Of the moon,
Down the valley of the shadow,
   Ride, boldly ride,"
   The shade replied,--
"If you seek for Eldorado!"