Israfel

by EDGAR ALLAN POE (1840-1849)

And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lute, and
who has the sweetest voice of all Gods creatures. KORAN.

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 enamored 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 the other listening things)
That Israfelis 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 Loves 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 unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
Best bard, because the wisest:
Merrily live, and long!

The ecstasies 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.

Edgar Allan Poe

Poe is known to have had an older brother named William Henry, and a younger sister, named Rosalie. What became of them? After the death of Poe’s mother, Rosalie was taken in by a different family than Edgar. William Henry continued to live in Baltimore with their grandparents. Learn more here.

Edgar Allan Poe Contemporaries
Frances Sargent Osgood
Leigh Hunt
Emily Bronte
Charles Baudelaire

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