1 April (1849): Edgar Allan Poe to Anson G. Chester

Edgar Allan Blue

Here, Edgar Allan Poe responds to Anson G. Chester, a New York-based minister who had asked for an autographed poem. Poe sends Chester a preview of “For Annie,” written for Poe’s (married) friend Nancy Richmond, who went by Annie. The poem would later be published in April 1849.

Fordham — Ap. 1 — 49.

My Dear Sir,

In reply to your very flattering request for an autographed poem, I have the honor of copying for you the subjoined lines just written. As they will be sold to one of our periodicals, may I beg of you not to let them pass out of your possession until published?

Very respectfully,
Yr. ob. St.
Edgar A. Poe

A, G, Chester, Esq.

For Annie.

Thank Heaven! — the crisis —  
       The danger is past,
And the lingering illness
       Is over at last —  
And the fever called “Living”
       Is conquered at last.

Sadly, I know, I am
       Shorn of my strength,
And no muscle I move,
       As I lie at full length —  
But no matter! — I feel
       I am better at length.

And I rest so composedly
       Now, in my bed,
That any beholder
       Might fancy me dead —  
Might start at beholding me,
       Thinking me dead.

The moaning and groaning,
       The sighing and sobbing,
Are quieted now; with
       The horrible throbbing  
At heart: — oh, that horrible,
       Horrible throbbing!

The sickness — the nausea —  
       The pitiless pain —  
Have ceased, with the fever
       That maddened my brain —
With the fever called “Living”
       That burned in my brain.

And ah, of all tortures
       That torture the worst
Has abated — the terrible
       Torture of thirst
For the napthaline rivers
       Of Passion accurst ! —
I have drank of a water
       That quenches all thirst: —

Of a water that flows,
       With a lullaby sound,
From a spring but a very few
       Feet under ground —
From a cavern not very far
       Down under ground.

And ah! let it never be
       Foolishly said
That my room it is gloomy
       And narrow my bed;
For man never slept
       In a different bed —
And, to sleep, you must slumber  
       In just such a bed.

My tantalized spirit here
       Blandly reposes,
Forgetting, or never
       Regretting, its roses —
Its old agitations
       Of myrtles and roses.
For now, while so quietly
       Lying, I fancy
A holier odor about me,
       of pansy —
A rosemary odor
       Commingled with pansies —
With rue and the beautiful

       Puritan pansy

And so I lie happily
       Bathing in many
A dream of the love
       And the beauty of Annie —  
Drowned in a bath
       Of the tresses of Annie.

She tenderly kissed me —
       She fondly caressed —  
And then I fell gently
       To sleep on her breast —  
Deeply to sleep from the
       Heaven of her breast.

When the light was extinguished,
       She covered me warm,
And she prayed to the angels
       To keep me from harm —
To the queen of the angels
       To shield me from harm.

And I lie so composedly
       Now, in my bed,
(Knowing her love)
       That you fancy me dead —
And I rest so contentedly
       Now in my bed,
(With her love at my breast)
       That you fancy me dead —
That you shudder to look at me,
       Thinking me dead: —
But my heart it is brighter
       Than all of the many
Stars of the sky —  
       Sparkles with Annie —
It glows with the light
       Of the love of my Annie —
With the thought of the light
       Of the eyes of my Annie.

 

From The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 -1849. Thomas, Dwight, and David Kelly Jackson.. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1987.