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About this Poem 

From The Works of Edgar Allan Poe in Five Volumes: The Raven Edition (P.F. Collier, 1902)

 

Israfel*

     In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
         “Whose heart-strings are a lute;”
      None sing so wildly well
     As the angel Israfel,
     And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
     Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
         Of his voice, all mute.

     Tottering above
         In her highest noon
         The enamoured moon
     Blushes with love,
         While, to listen, the red levin
         (With the rapid Pleiads, even,
         Which were seven,)
         Pauses in Heaven

     And they say (the starry choir
         And all the listening things)
     That Israfeli’s fire
     Is owing to that lyre
         By which he sits and sings—
     The trembling living wire
     Of those unusual strings.

  * And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lut, and
  who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.—KORAN.

     But the skies that angel trod,
         Where deep thoughts are a duty—
     Where Love’s a grown up God—
         Where the Houri glances are
     Imbued with all the beauty
         Which we worship in a star.

     Therefore, thou art not wrong,
         Israfeli, who despisest
     An unimpassion’d song:
     To thee the laurels belong
         Best bard, because the wisest!
     Merrily live, and long!

     The extacies above
         With thy burning measures suit—
     Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
         With the fervor of thy lute—
         Well may the stars be mute!

     Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
         Is a world of sweets and sours;
         Our flowers are merely—flowers,
     And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
         Is the sunshine of ours.

     If I could dwell
     Where Israfel
         Hath dwelt, and he where I,
     He might not sing so wildly well
         A mortal melody,
     While a bolder note than this might swell
         From my lyre within the sky.

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Born in 1809, Edgar Allan Poe had a profound impact on American and international literature as an editor, poet, and critic.

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