Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our Favorite of Edgar Allan Poe's Poems

In the spirit of National Poetry Month, which swiftly nears a close, we begrudgingly wish to exhibit what is, in our esteemed opinion, the finest poetical production of Poe's pen.  While not as celebrated as The Raven, Annabel Lee or The Bells, we feel The Sleeper represents Poe in his best form.

Edgar Allan Poe

AT midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapour, dewy, dim, 
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin moulders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps!--and lo! where lies
With casement open to the skies
Irene, with her Destinies! 

Oh, lady bright! can it be right--
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop--
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully--so fearfully--
Above the closed and fringed lid
'Neath which they slumb'ring soul lies hid,
That, o'er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come o'er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!
Strange, above all, they length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with unopen'd eye,
While the dim sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold--
Some vault that oft hath flung its black
And winged pannels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o'er the crested palls,
Of her grand family funerals--
Some sepulchre, remote, alone, 
Against whose portal she hath thrown, 
In childhood, many an idle stone--
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne'er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groan'd within.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Fragment by William Henry Leonard Poe

For your consideration we present a short prose piece by William Henry "Hank" Leonard Poe.  It was originally published in the Baltimore North American, November 3rd, 1827 and shamelessly appropriated from Ann Neilson's Materialistic Maiden blog, where this and many other examples of Hank's literary work may be found.  Thanks to her for generously posting this.

                                 A FRAGMENT

Well! I have determined–lightly it may be–but when there is nothing to live for–nothing that the heart craves anxiously and devotedly, life is but a kind of prison house from which we would be freed. 
I feel even at this moment a something of impatience to know what death is–and although I am now writing the very last words this band will ever trace–yet even the outward show–the trifles of the world beguile me–
The ink is not good–I have stirred it–’tis better now, and I have mended my pen–’tis disagreeable, even if it is our very last letter, to write with a band pen–a blot!–I must erase it–this when an hour will finish my existence!–an existence of wretchedness–one of weary, bitter disappointment. 

I feel as if hungry, and suddenly a sumptuous feast before me–surfeiting myself–revelling in my thoughts–indulging in what I have been afraid to think of–I have but a short hour to live, and the ticking of the clock before me, seems a laughing spectator of my death–I wish it had life–it would not then be so gay–nay, it might be a partner of my melancholy. 
Pshaw! this pen–surely my hand must have trembled when I made it–I have held it up to the light–Heavens’ my hand does tremble–No! tis only the flickering of the lamp. 
It will–at least it may be asked, why I have done this–they may say I was insane–the body which is earthed cannot feel their taunts, and the soul cares not.
I have a strange wish even at this time–it is that some maiden would plant flowers on my grave–which my mortality would add life to.
When there is no hope–no cheering prospect to brighten, no land to mark the bewildered seaman’s way–why not try death?
                       “And come it slow or come it fast,
                         It is but death that comes at last.” 
There are many who would rather linger in a life of wretchedness, disappointment–and other causes which blight many a youthful heart, and make ruin and desolation in the warmest feelings–yes! even the lip must smile and the eye be gay–although when night brings us to our couch we unconsciously wish it was for the last time.
Such is man–such is mankind!–I have still one half hour to live–one half hour!–yet I look around me as if it was the journey of a day, and not an eternal adieu!–Why should I live? Delighting in one object, and she
                       “The fairest flow’r that glittered on a stem
                         To wither at my grasp.”
No more–the pistol–I have loaded it–the balls are new–quite bright–they will soon be in my heart–Incomprehensible death–what art thou?
I have put the pistol to my bosom–it snapped–I had forgotten to prime it–I must do it–
In the act of doing so it went off, and I awoke and found myself rolling on the floor, having fallen from my bed in the agitation of a most strange and singular dream.
W. H. P. 

It is no wonder that Hank Poe's close friends used to refer to him simply as "Sunshine".

This and all of Hank's other extant writings were published in 1926:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Poem by Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore

Quite recently these pages featured a brief biographical account of minor poet Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore.  At the time we were unable to offer any samples of Mr. Faulkmore's poetical output, but this has since been remedied.  One of our readers was kind enough to send us the following composition, to our knowledge never before published and under the condition of anonymity,  so that an impression can be given of Mr. Faulkmore's style.  We are most grateful to this unknown lover of versification and neither can nor will reveal his or her identity.  The poem is given no title.

Although the roses wither
 That round Love’s bower grew,
My fancy wanders thither,
Their naked stems to view;
And memory seems to render
Their forms still fresh and fair,
As moonlight gives a splendor
To branches bleak and bare.

Although the wild harp slumbers
That echoed from that bower,
I've treasured the sweet numbers
To cheer this lonely hour;
And while hope's strains of gladness
Seem destined to depart,
Fond memory's tones of sadness
Still linger round the heart.

And though I'm doomed to wander
Far from that happy spot,
The vision strikes the fonder,
As ne'er to be forgot;
For hope may gild to-morrow
With beams not meant to last,
But memory loves to borrow
The radiance of the past.

J. T. Faulkmore, November 1824


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY SIX YEARS AGO TODAY, on April 20 1828, Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore was purported to have committed suicide in New York.  We have no absolute confirmation of this fact, and it should be stated that scarcely any evidence of Faulkmore's existence is verifiable at all.  It is our intent to summarize here in this criminally brief entry all that is known or thought to be known about this hitherto little recognized American poet.

Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore
Mr. Faulkmore was born in the month of December of 1799 in the town of Warren in  Bristol County, Rhode Island.  Of his parentage little is known; his mother perished while he was but a very young boy, leaving him in the care of Elizabeth Edgecomb, the sister of his father, a seaman and veteran of the Revolutionary War who rarely saw his only child but wrote him often, filling his head with dreams of taking to the sea that would be oft deferred.  In 1806 Dr. and Mrs. Edgecomb moved with young Jefferson to the city of Troy, in New York, where her husband opened a medical practice.  A bright but melancholy youth, the boy immersed himself in literature and history.  Mr. Faulkmore received his education at Bowdoin College in Maine, working as a gravedigger to supplement the funds allotted him by his guardians, and was graduated in 1820.   Shortly thereafter he was wed to a schoolteacher named Emily.

He engaged himself in a number of occupations over the next six years; he was briefly a typesetter, a teacher, a bank clerk and a scrivener.  He also wrote verse during this time, as he sought publication for a handful of poems in various literary journals between 1824 and 1826:  The Writing Desk, The Chimes, El Borabo and The Magpie.  In a letter dated 1826 to his Aunt, Jefferson writes: "I have submitted my 'Magpie' to a number of magazines for consideration, but as the others have been summarily rejected I have no reason to expect either to see it in print or to have its probably many deficiencies elaborated upon by a member of any editorial body."  One of these poems, The Magpie, was indeed published in 1829 by The Hartford Cabinet of Literature & Science, but Mr. Faulkmore would never know this.  In March of 1827, after the death of his wife, he made the decision to embark upon the nautical adventure that had remained a fantasy since his childhood and from which he may or may not have returned.  He took to the sea aboard The Grampus, a whaling vessel that departed from New Bedford, Mass. in June of the same year and was never seen again.

All that remains to tell of the existence of Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore is perhaps best omitted, for it cannot be reconciled with reality, but I will let the reader be the judge.  In 1941 it was discovered in the records of Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum in New York that one of the inmates there had in 1828 committed suicide by slashing open his veins with a shard of broken crockery.  A note accompanying the remains of the inmate was dated April 20, ten months after the Grampus had set sail, and signed with a hastily scrawled J.T. Faulmore (sic).  The content of the note was brief, stating only that the inmate had "no further business to conduct among those who pass as men except in shadows" and "no further desire to dream unto death".  Upon further investigation it was determined that the asylum had had neither an inmate by the name of Faulmore nor Faulkmore on record.

Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum, New York

There was a time when this little known poet could be done much greater justice than I am able to do here.  My own neglect in never having including Mr. Faulkmore in any of my renowned poetry anthologies is utterly unforgivable.  Had I had more foresight I could have made certain that this fine specimen of versifier was as known to the literate public as all of the other American poets that I thus immortalized.  Would that I could present to those seekers of beauty and lovers of verse the poems of Jefferson Tiberius Faulkmore; equally would I like to place before the public the few pieces of personal correspondence that he wrote, but alas, all is lost.  At one time I had in my possession Mr. Faulkmore's extant letters and copies of his unpublished poems.  These were burned by an associate of mine in an act of utter idiocy.  In the matter of locating the only piece of writing by Mr. Faulkmore to ever see publication, The Magpie as printed in the November 1829 issue of The Hartford Cabinet of Literature & Science, I am equally deficient.  Years ago I was foolish enough to loan the sole copy that I had in my possession to another literary man, and it was, alas, not found among his papers when he died.

In a letter written in September of 1842, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe wrote to me of "The Magpie" that it was "as fine a poem, in both the style of its versification & expression and its originality, as I have recently encountered.  I wonder at its omission from your "Poets of America".  That it has been published just once, years ago, and forgotten is as unfortunate for the public as it must have seemed for the poet."  I cannot doubt the sincerity of these words, for three years later Mr. Poe would confirm his enthusiasm for Mr. Faulkmore's verse beyond any doubt by engaging in a flattery that Charles Colton would no doubt refer to as its most sincere of forms.