Israfel

by Edgar Allan Poe

Published 1831


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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 the other 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 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 fervour 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.


Israfel,” one of many poems by Edgar Allan Poe, was published in 1831 in Poems of Edgar A. Poe.


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