Tamerlane and Other Poems

“In Youth I Have Known One”

Edgar Allan Poe

How often we forget all time, when lone
Admiring Nature’s universal throne;
Her woods—her wilds—her mountains-the intense
Reply of Hers to Our intelligence!


IN YOUTH I have known one with whom the Earth
    In secret communing held—as he with it,
In daylight, and in beauty, from his birth:
    Whose fervid, flickering torch of life was lit
From the sun and stars, whence he had drawn forth
    A passionate light such for his spirit was fit
And yet that spirit knew—not in the hour
    Of its own fervor—what had o’er it power.

Perhaps it may be that my mind is wrought
    To a fever1 by the moonbeam that hangs o’er,
But I will half believe that wild light fraught
    With more of sovereignty than ancient lore
Hath ever told—or is it of a thought
    The unembodied essence, and no more
That with a quickening spell doth o’er us pass
    As dew of the night-time, o’er the summer grass?

Doth o’er us pass, when, as th’ expanding eye
    To the loved object—so the tear to the lid
Will start, which lately slept in apathy?
    And yet it need not be—(that object) hid
From us in life—but common—which doth lie
    Each hour before us—but then only bid
With a strange sound, as of a harp-string broken
    T’ awake us—’tis a symbol and a token

Of what in other worlds shall be—and given
    In beauty by our God, to those alone
Who otherwise would fall from life and Heaven
    Drawn by their heart’s passion, and that tone,
That high tone of the spirit which hath striven
    Though not with Faith—with godliness—whose throne
With desperate energy ’t hath beaten down;
    Wearing its own deep feeling as a crown.

1. Query “fervor”?—ED.    [back]

Poe’s motto preceeding the poem is from Bryon’s Island

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