Israfel


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Israfel

“none sing so wildly well.” [Am. Lit.: “Israfel” in Portable Poe, 606]
See: Music
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where was it i once saw a dogwood tree not white but tan tan as cream what will you say to her bitter and new as a sunburned flame bitter and new those two little silken snails somewhere under her dress horned pinkly yet reluctant o israfel ay wax your wings with the thin odorless moisture of her thighs strangle your heart with hair fool fool cursed and forgotten of god.
In symbolic terms this contrast pits Muhammad, the Oriental figure, who, like Israfel, represents imaginative excellence, against Metzengerstein, who abandons his inheritance and devotes himself to crushing 'the Orient' in the person of Berlifitzing.
At line 76, struggling out of this sordidness, the poet/Alexander climbs to the top of the mountain at the end of the world and sees Israfel, the archangel, readying his trumpet to announce the end of time.
After Alexander confronts the angel of death, Israfel, we are transported suddenly and without transition back to Northumbria, where a "woodman dazed by an adder's sting" (64) is listening to the slowworm's song of pastoral bliss.
The poem leaves him questioning Israfel about the day of judgment and then shifts suddenly to the woodman's dream, the lesson of which is that satisfaction might be found in humility within the order of the natural world.
His biography of Edgar Allan Poe, Israfel (1926), is thorough and readable, though outdated.
Notably, Israfel performs his music for the stars, so once again we see Poe invoking a concrete element in Near Eastern culture and the Islamic faith, only to universalize this element in the most dramatic fashion possible, by extending it not only to the entire human race, but to the entire cosmos.
1) All following Whitty's evidence (see below), they were Hervey Allen, Israfel (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1934), 596, n.
Poe prefaced this poem with a motto ascribed to the Koran: "And the angel Israfel who has the sweetest voice of all God's creatures.
But Poe was already much his own man, as is evidenced in the great brief lyric <IR> TO HELEN </IR> , in <IR> ISRAFEL </IR> , and in "The Sleeper," a macabre verse of which the poet was curiously fond.
Both continued to be interested in each other's activities and publications, as shown in articles, reviews, and poems - most poignantly in her "Dirge" for Israfel (October 13, 1849) and her "Reminiscences of Poe" (December 8, 1849); also revealing is her booklet A Letter about the Lions (1849).