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Israfel by Edgar Allan Poe


"Israfel" is a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. It was written while Poe was still attending West Point. It was first published in Poems of Edgar A. Poe in April 1831. It was later reworked and republished for the Southern Literary Messenger and republished in August 1836.

This poem is simply about the angel Israfel who is mentioned in the Qua'rn as having the sweetest voice of all God's creatures. Poe ends the poem by stating if he and the angel switched places, he would be the one with the sweetest voice and Israfel wouldn't sing as well.

This writing consists of eight stanzas and a note explaining who Israfel is. The rhyme scheme is ABAAAAB-ABBABBBB-ABAABAA-ABACBC-ABAABA-ABABB-ABBAB-AABABAB.



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 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 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.

"And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God's creatures." - Holy Qua'rn.

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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 19th Century

Religion, God