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An Enigma by Edgar Allan Poe


This is a riddle poem in a modified sonnet form. It was originally published under the title "Sonnet." The title "An Enigma" was not added until later, by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. The biographer Arthur Hobson Quinn called this poem "one of Poe's feeblest poems".

This poem is written as one stanza. It has a rhyme scheme of ABABBCCBDEEBEE.


An Enigma

"Seldom we find," says Solomon Don Dunce, 
  "Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet. 
Through all the flimsy things we see at once 
  As easily as through a Naples bonnet- 
  Trash of all trash!- how can a lady don it? 
Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff- 
Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff 
  Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it." 
And, veritably, Sol is right enough. 
The general tuckermanities are arrant 
Bubbles- ephemeral and so transparent- 
  But this is, now- you may depend upon it- 
Stable, opaque, immortal- all by dint 
Of the dear names that he concealed within't.

Published in  in the Union Magazine of Literature and Art.

Next: Annabel Lee

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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 19th Century