To -- -- --. Ulalume: A Ballad

Original Text: 
American Review, 6 (Dec. 1847): 599 (anonymously). AP A649 microfilm ROBA. Cf.The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Floyd Stovall (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1965): 103-06 (based on a Pierpont Morgan manuscript copy of the poem presented by Poe to Susan Ingram in Sept. 1849).
1The skies they were ashen and sober;
3    The leaves they were withering and sere;
4It was night in the lonesome October
5    Of my most immemorial year;
6It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
11    Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul--
13These were days when my heart was volcanic
15    As the lavas that restlessly roll
17    In the ultimate climes of the pole--
18That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
20Our talk had been serious and sober,
21    But our thoughts they were palsied and sere--
22    Our memories were treacherous and sere--
23For we knew not the month was October,
24    And we marked not the night of the year--
26We noted not the dim lake of Auber--
27    (Though once we had journeyed down here)--
28We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
29    Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.
31    And star-dials pointed to morn--
32    As the star-dials hinted of morn--
33At the end of our path a liquescent
34    And nebulous lustre was born,
35Out of which a miraculous crescent
36    Arose with a duplicate horn--
38    Distinct with its duplicate horn.
40    She rolls through an ether of sighs--
41    She revels in a region of sighs:
42She has seen that the tears are not dry on
43    These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
44And has come past the stars of the Lion
45    To point us the path to the skies--
47Come up, in despite of the Lion,
48    To shine on us with her bright eyes--
50    With love in her luminous eyes."
51But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
52    Said--"Sadly this star I mistrust--
53    Her pallor I strangely mistrust:--
54Oh, hasten! oh, let us not linger!
55    Oh, fly!--let us fly!--for we must."
56In terror she spoke, letting sink her
57    Wings till they trailed in the dust--
58In agony sobbed, letting sink her
59    Plumes till they trailed in the dust--
60    Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.
61I replied--"This is nothing but dreaming:
62    Let us on by this tremulous light!
63    Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
65    With Hope and in Beauty to-night:--
66    See!--it flickers up the sky through the night!
67Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
68    And be sure it will lead us aright--
69We safely may trust to a gleaming
70    That cannot but guide us aright,
71    Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."
72Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
73    And tempted her out of her gloom--
74    And conquered her scruples and gloom:
75And we passed to the end of the vista,
76    But were stopped by the door of a tomb--
77    By the door of a legended tomb;
78And I said--"What is written, sweet sister,
79    On the door of this legended tomb?"
81    'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"
82Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
83    As the leaves that were crispèd and sere--
84    As the leaves that were withering and sere,
85And I cried--"It was surely October
86    On this very night of last year
87    That I journeyed--I journeyed down here--
88    That I brought a dread burden down here--
89    On this night of all nights in the year,
90    Oh, what demon has tempted me here?
91Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber--
92    This misty mid region of Weir--
93Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber--
94    In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."
95Said we, then--the two, then--"Ah, can it
96    Have been that the woodlandish ghouls--
97    The pitiful, the merciful ghouls--
98To bar up our way and to ban it
99    From the secret that lies in these wolds--
101Had drawn up the spectre of a planet
104    From the Hell of the planetary souls?"


2] sere: withered Back to Line
7] Weir: the noun means "waterway trap to catch fish". Back to Line
8] dank tarn: small, unpleasant-smelling mountain lake with high banks Back to Line
9] ghoul-haunted: frequented by grave-robbing evil spirits Back to Line
10] alley Titanic: the Titans were giants of ancient Greek myth. Back to Line
12] Psyche: Greek term for "soul", and the spouse of Cupid. Back to Line
14] scoriac: presumably, black as scoria, a cindery lava Back to Line
16] Mount Yaanek: perhaps the only active volcano in either Arctic or Antarctic regions, Mount Erebus (="hell"), first discovered in 1840 (Mabbott, I, 421). Back to Line
19] boreal pole: northern (or southern, in French usage) pole (Mabbott, I, 421). Back to Line
25] night of all nights: all Hallows' Eve, Halloween, the night of all souls Back to Line
30] senescent: rapidly aging, approaching the end Back to Line
37] Astarte: Phoenician goddess of sexual love, evidently a star here (52; Venus?) rather than the crescent moon Back to Line
39] Dian: Diana, the moon goddess Back to Line
46] Lethean peace: the river in ancient Hades that enables the damned to forget Back to Line
49] the Lion: the sign of Leo in the zodiac Back to Line
64] Sybilic: prophetic, like the Greek Sibyl Back to Line
80] Ulalume: Poe pronounced this "You-la-loom," according to Susan Ingram, who heard his reading of the poem (Collected Work of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Thomas Ollive Mabbott [Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969]: 419). Back to Line
100] wolds: regions of open hilly countryside Back to Line
102] limbo: a tepid hell for those who have not, in some versions of Christian belief, been baptised Back to Line
103] scintillant: sparkling Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RP) 2.0.