Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

picture of e.a. poe

Silence actually has fifteen lines but seems to belong here. The "dear name" concealed within An Enigma can be found by reading the first letter of the first line, the second letter of the second line, etc. to the end of the sonnet--she was a poet and friend of Poe's.

return to sonnet central return to American 19th century sonnets

To Science

Science! True daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

An Enigma

"Seldom we find," says Solomon Don Dunce,
"Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.
Through all the flimsy things we see at once
As easily as through a Naples bonnet--
Trash of all trash?--how can a lady don it?
Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff--
Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff
Twirls into trunk-paper while you con it."
And, veritable, Sol is right enough.
The general tuckermanities are arrant
Bubbles--ephemeral and so transparent--
But this is, now,--you may depend on it--
Stable, opaque, immortal--all by dint
Of the dear names that lie concealed within't.


There are some qualities--some incorporate things,
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evenced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence--sea and shore--
Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
Newly with grass o'ergrown; some solemn graces,
Some human memories and tearful lore,
Render him terrorless: his name's "No More."
He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
No power hath he of evil in himself;
But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
No foot of man) commend thyself to God!

Sonnet--To Zante

Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers,
Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take!
How many memories of what radiant hours
At sight of thee and thine at once awake!
How many scenes of what departed bliss!
How many thoughts of what entombed hopes!
How many visions of a maiden that is
No more- no more upon thy verdant slopes!
No more! alas, that magical sad sound
Transforming all! Thy charms shall please no more--
Thy memory no more! Accursed ground
Henceforth I hold thy flower-enameled shore,
O hyacinthine isle! O purple Zante!
"Isola d'oro! Fior di Levante!"