Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 13: No 1) >> A New Simms Poem — On Poe! >> Page 24

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Page 24

Poetry | 2005
Transcription A NEW SIMMS POEM----ON POE!

Among the many reviews in Simms's "Our Literary Docket" in the
Charleston Mercury of 1859 is a cryptic, eleven line poem that has not been
included in the Simms canon. It stands at the head of Simms's review of a new
edition of Poe's poems just published by Redfield.
In this review, Simms writes of the poet's tortured life---"one of the most
morally wretched among gifted men." He states: "Alas! poor Edgar! we knew
him well---knew well that he did not know himself! This was his misfortune.
But we must not report what we know. Let him sleep; ....Enough that he sleeps
at last. Let us hope a more peaceful sleep--for a happier waking--than he ever
knew in life."
Simms goes on to say that as a great poet, Poe's "claims have been
acknowledged. He will and should always find a place in the American
library." Simms then commends "this very beautiful little pocket volume... tiny
and beautiful enough, in its clothing of blue and gold, for the boudoir table of
Titania, when the Teutonic fairies from the Rhine are on a visit to the groves
of Avon." In his poem's first three lines, Simms alludes to Hamlet (Alas! poor
Yorick, I knew him well) and Lear (Poor Tom's a-cold).


Alas! poor Edgar!
Here you are in blue and gold,
But, alas, poor Tom's a-cold,
Lying underneath the mould!
Precious little cloth he care
For the new edition here; ---
For the world---to him a snare!
Let him sleep in quiet haven,
Though abroad still flies "The Raven";
With his burden evermore,
"Nevermore, nevermore!"

Simms's poem reinforces the claim of the accompanying review that although
Poe led a miserable, "morally wretched" life and has passed from the scene,
what matters now is his living work which will speak its chorus "burden" of
"Nevermore,""evermore." On many occasions, Simms said Poe had achieved
an immortality beyond any of his contemporaries; and he understood that Poe
was saying to all the progressive sweetness-and-light school of transcendental
yea-saying utopians: "No in thunder!" This perhaps explains Simms's choice
of the nay-saying last line, "Nevermore, nevermore! "---a burden that Simms
predicts will last "evermore."