[Editorial Note: Edgar Allen Poe's poetry often dealt with a love lost to death. "To One In Paradise" may not the best of these, but for that very reason the idealization (sentimentalization?) of the dead young woman comes across all the more palpably. "Fading Away" is a visual treatment of this view of death. The most famous of Poe's works on this theme, and the best in the view of many, is "The Raven." Poe's one-time fiancee, Sarah Helen Whitman (the Helen for whom he wrote "To Helen"), was also a well-known poet. Her "She Blooms No More" also treats the theme of irreparable loss. Popular songs sounded a similar note.]

To One In Paradise

Thou wast that all to me, love,

For which my soul did pine --

A green isle in the sea, love,

A fountain and a shrine,

All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers

And all the flowers were mine.

 

Ah, dream too bright to last!

Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise

But to be overcast!

A voice from out the Future cries,

"On! on!"-- but o'er the Past

(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies

Mute, motionless, aghast!

 

For, alas! alas! with me

The light of Life is o'er!

"No more -- no more -- no more-"

(Such language holds the solemn sea

To the sands upon the shore)

Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,

Or the stricken eagle soar!

 

And all my days are trances,

And all my nightly dreams

Are where thy dark eye glances,

And where thy footstep gleams--

In what ethereal dances,

By what eternal streams.


The Raven

Once apon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As if someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door-

"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-

Only this and nothing more."

 

Ah, distincly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each seperate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the marrow; -- vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow -- sorrow for the lost Lenore --

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-

Nameless here for evermore.

 

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me -- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door --

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; --

This it is and nothing more."

 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

"Sir," said I,"or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you" -- here I opened wide the door; --

Darkness there and nothing more.

 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,"Lenore?"

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word "Lenore!"

Merely this and nothing more.

 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

"Surely," said I,"surely that is somethingat my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore --

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; --

'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

 

Open here I flung the shutter, when with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door --

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door --

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore --

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

 

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discoarse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning-- little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door --

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as "Nevermore."

 

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered -- not a feather then he fluttered --

Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before."

Then the bird said "Nevermore."

 

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

"Doubtless," said I,"what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore --

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of 'Never -- Nevermore.'"

 

But the Raven still beguilling my sad fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this omnious bird of yore --

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and omnious bird of yore

Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

 

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burning into my bosom's core;

This I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er

But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

 

Then methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.

"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee -- by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite -- respite and nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

 

"Prophet!" said I,"thing of evil! -- prophet still, if bird or devil!--

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted --

On this home by Horror haunted -- tell me truly, I implore --

Is there -- is there balm in Gilead?-- tell me -- tell me, I implore!"

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

 

"Prophet!" said I,"thing of evil! -- prophet still, if bird or devil!

By the Heaven that bends above us -- by the God we both adore --

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within this distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore --

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore."

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

 

"Be that word our sigh of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--

"Get thee back into the tempesd ant the Night's Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!-- quit the bust above my door!"

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,

And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted -- nevermore!