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Israfel
by Edgar Allan Poe

US poet, critic and short story writer. Poe is best known for his macabre horror stories including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Gold Bug and The Black Cat (1842). His key poems include Lenore (1831), The Raven (1842), Ulalume (1847). He also wrote some critical essays including The Philosophy of Composition (1846), Time and Space (1844) and The Poetic Principle (1850), and a novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838). Poe had a great influence on a number of writers including Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne.


Israfel
by Edgar Allan Poe

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.

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.


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