Al Aaraaf

Author: Edgar Allan Poe  | Date: 1829


*001 Title Al Aaraaf. A star was discovered by Tycho Brahe which appeared suddenly in the heavens- attained, in a few days, a brilliancy surpassing that of Jupiter- then as suddenly disappeared, and has never been seen since.

*002 On the fair Capo Deucato. On Santa Maura- olim Deucadia.

*003 Of her who lov’d a mortal- and so died. Sappho.

*004 And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnam’d. This flower is much noticed by Lewenhoeck and Tournefort. The bee, feeding upon its blossom, becomes intoxicated.

*005 And Clytia, pondering between many a sun. Clytia- the Chrysanthemum Peruvianum, or, to employ a better-known term, the turnsol- which turns continually towards the sun, covers itself, like Peru, the country from which it comes, with dewy clouds which cool and refresh its flowers during the most violent heat of the day.- B. de St. Pierre.

*006 And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth. There is cultivated in the king’s garden at Paris, a species of serpentine aloes without prickles, whose large and beautiful flower exhales a strong odor of the vanilla, during the time of its expansion, which is very short. It does not blow till towards the month of July- you then perceive it gradually open its petals- expand them- fade and die.- St. Pierre.

*007 And Valisnerian lotus, thither flown. There is found, in the Rhone, a beautiful lily of the Valisnerian kind. Its stem will stretch to the length of three or four feet- thus preserving its head above water in the swellings of the river.

*008 And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante! The Hyacinth.

*009 And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever

With Indian Cupid down the holy river-

It is a fiction of the Indians, that Cupid was first seen floating in one of these down the river Ganges- and that he still loves the cradle of his childhood.

*010 To bear the Goddess’ song, in odors, up to Heaven. And golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints.- Rev. St. John.

*011 A model of their own. The Humanitarians held that God was to be understood as having really a human form- Vide Clarke’s

Sermons, vol. i, p. 26, fol. edit.

The drift of Milton’s argument leads him to employ language which would appear, at first sight, to verge upon their doctrine; but it would be seen immediately, that he guards himself against the charge of having adopted one of the most ignorant errors of the dark ages of the church.- Dr. Sumner’s Notes on Milton’s Christian Doctrine.

This opinion, in spite of many testimonies to the contrary, could never have been very general. Andeus, a Syrian of Mesopotamia, was condemned for the opinion, as heretical. He lived in the beginning of the fourth century. His disciples were called Anthropomorphites.-

Vide Du Pin.

Among Milton’s minor poems are these lines:

"Dicite sacrorum presides nemorum Deae, &c.

Quis ille primus cujus ex imagine

Natura solers finxit humanum genus?

Eternus, incorruptus, aequaevus polo,

Unusque et universus, exemplar Dei."

And afterwards-

"Non cui profundum Caecitas lumen dedit

Dircaeus augur vidit hunc alto sinu," &c.

*012 By winged Fantasy.

Fantasy. Seltsamen Tochter Jovis

Seinem Schosskinde,

Der Phantasie.- Goethe.

*013 What tho’ in worlds which sightless cycles run. Sightless- too small to be seen.- Legge.

*014 Apart- like fire-flies in Sicilian night. I have often noticed a peculiar movement of the fire-flies;- they will collect in a body, and fly off, from a common centre, into innumerable radii.

*015 Her way, but left not yet her Therasaean reign. Therasaea, or Therasea, the island mentioned by Seneca, which, in a moment, arose from the sea to the eyes of astonished mariners.

*016 Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall

Thro’ the ebon air.

Some star, which from the ruin’d roof

Of shaked Olympus, by mischance, did fall.- Milton.

*017 Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis. Voltaire, in speaking of Persepolis, says, "Je connois bien l’admiration qui’inspirent ces ruines- mais un palais erige au pied d’une chaine de rochers steriles, peut-il etre un chef-d’oeuvre des arts?"

*018 Of beautiful Gomorrah! O, the wave. Ula Deguisi is the Turkish appellation; but, on its own shores, it is called Bahar Loth, or Almotanah. There were undoubtedly more that two cities engulfed in the "Dead Sea." In the valley of Siddim were five- Admah, Zeboin, Zoar, Sodom and Gomorrah. Stephen of Byzantium mentions eight, and Strabo thirteen (engulfed)- but the last is out of all reason.

It is said [Tacitus, Strabo, Josephus, Daniel of St. Saba, Nau, Maundrell, Troilo, D’Arvieux] that after an excessive drought, the vestiges of columns, walls, &c., are seen above the surface. At any season, such remains may be discovered by looking down into the transparent lake, and at such distances as would argue the existence of many settlements in the space now usurped by the "Asphaltites."

*019 That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco. Eyraco- Chaldea.

*020 Is not its form- its voice- most palpable and loud? I have often thought I could distinctly hear the sound of darkness as it stole over the horizon.

*021 Young flowers were whispering in melody. Fairies use flowers for their charactery.- Merry Wives of Windsor.

*022 The moonbeam away. In Scripture is this passage- "The sun shall not harm thee by day, nor the moon by night." It is perhaps not generally known that the moon, in Egypt, has the effect of producing blindness to those who sleep with the face exposed to its rays, to which circumstance the passage evidently alludes.

*023 Like the lone Albatross. The albatross is said to sleep on the wing.

*024 The murmur that springs. I met with this idea in an old English tale, which I am now unable to obtain, and quote from memory:- "The verie essence and, as it were, springeheade and origine of all musiche is the verie plesaunte sounde which the trees of the forest do make when they growe."

*025 Have slept with the bee. The wild bee will not sleep in the shade if there be moonlight.

The rhyme in this verse, as in one about sixty lines before, has an appearance of affectation. It is, however, imitated from Sir W. Scott, or rather from Claude Halcro- in whose mouth I admired its effect:

"Oh! were there an island

Though ever so wild,

Where woman might smile, and

No man be beguiled," &c.

*026 Apart from Heaven’s Eternity- and yet how far from Hell! With the Arabians there is a medium between Heaven and Hell, where men suffer no punishment, but yet do not attain that tranquil and even happiness which they suppose to be characteristic of heavenly enjoyment.

Un no rompido sueno,

Un die puro, alegre, libre quiero;...

Libre de amor, de zelo,

De odio, de esperanzas, de recelo.

- Luis Ponce de Leon.

Sorrow is not excluded from "Al Aaraaf," but it is that sorrow which the living love to cherish for the dead, and which, in some minds, resembels the delirium of opium. The passionate excitement of Love and the buoyancy of spirt attendant upon intoxication are its less holy pleasures- the price of which, to those souls who make choice of "Al Aaraaf" as their residence after life, is final death and annihilation.

*027 Unguided Love hath fallen- ’mid "tears of perfect moan."

There be tears of perfect moan

Wept fro thee in Helicon.- Milton.

*028 Was a proud temple call’d the Parthenon. It was entire in 1687- the most elevated spot in Athens.

*029 Than ev’n thy glowing bosom beats withal.

Shadowing more beauty in their airy brows

Than have the white breasts of the Queen of Love.- Marlowe.


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Chicago: Edgar Allan Poe, "Notes Which the Poet Composed," Al Aaraaf Original Sources, accessed December 8, 2023,

MLA: Poe, Edgar Allan. "Notes Which the Poet Composed." Al Aaraaf, Original Sources. 8 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Poe, EA, 'Notes Which the Poet Composed' in Al Aaraaf. Original Sources, retrieved 8 December 2023, from