While these anonymous verses may not be great poetry, they do stand as a heartfelt tribute to the deep effect that Poe's work had on many of his contemporaries--even ones who, like this unknown poet, probably never laid eyes on the man. On this, the anniversary of Poe's death, it's good to remember that despite the popular current-day legend, there were many people in his time who loved Poe and mourned his passing. There have always been those of us who "feel in Poe we had a friend."
It is not true, "the Poet had no friends."
There's not a hamlet nor a way-side cot
Throughout the land, where misery has dwelt,
But furnished him a friend--warm, heart-felt friend.
'Tis true they did not swell the air with praise
And loud-toned, fulsome acclamation,
(Like purse-made friends, who never tell the heart
Their friendship,) for his soul seemed theirs--
His lips and pen their speaking oracles--
His harp, their tale of wrong and suffering.
There's not a spirit crushed by time and grief,
And silent in its heart-wrecked misery,
(A looker-on, midst homage ill-deserved,)
But feels in Poe he had a friend, and Poe
A friend in him.
There is a class of men who feel some wrong
In every freak of circumstance and chance--
But these were not his friends. His were the souls
Who, through the live-long day and darkling night,
Conjure no wrong--but writhe with it, and pride,
Till, broken-down in spirit, Death relieves.
It may have been that on thy youthful brow,
Shaded by curls and love, and in the eye
Nature had written Genius--Child of Song!
If this--and dark obscurity were his,
We have a key to wrongs most exquisite;
And in the wreck of hopes, when cheeks have paled
And curls lie matted o'er the sunken eye,
No wonder we should see Poe's world-sick friend
Striving in silence to let the soul go free.
It may have been that chilling poverty
Had stepped between his heart and her he loved,
Changing his crimson hopes to dark despair,
Freezing the morning of his look and life--
If so--I pledge you he became Poe's friend
For lending him his Annabel, and song.
Ah! many a friend, around the grave of Poe,
Will help to plant the willow o'er his head,
Shading his harp and him, low sleeping there;
And with a lynx-eyed jealousy, will watch
And shield from weaker pens his memory.
His was a heart too big for mortal frame;
And in that soul that, rearing up dark things
For men to stare at, turned his gaze to Heaven,
When o'er the quiet Earth deep twilight hang,
Shading the face of nature (that the light
Her sleep might not disturb,) we see a star
That rises in the firmament of thought
So far above its fellows, that we start
To know it had a habitation here,
And fear 'tis sacrilege in hearts like ours
To feel we are Poe's Friends!
-Chicago, Oct. 1849