TO —

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To —

by Edgar Allen Poe

I HEED not that my earthly lot
Hath —— little of Earth in it —
That years of love have been forgot
In the hatred of a minute: —
I mourn not that the desolate
Are happier, sweet, than I,
But that you sorrow for my fate
Who am a passer by.


This poem was known over time by multiple titles – “Alone” in the earliest version, “To M—” in the 1829 volume, and “To —” in a late manuscript. However, the person(s) addressed in the poem are unknown. From eapoe.com:

The identities of the ladies addressed, however, are quite uncertain. “M—” cannot be Mary Starr, whom Poe did not know so early as 1829. And it is quite unthinkable that Poe called Mrs. Clemm by her first name, Maria (in the early nineteenth century!), nor was she yet “Muddy” to him. Nor could “M—” have been [page 136:] Poe’s cousin Mary Estelle [[Esther]] Herring (Elizabeth Herring’s half-sister), a small child in 1829. Could Mary Winfree have met and mentioned Elmira to Poe earlier than 1834, and be addressed in this poem of 1829?

The presence of the late manuscript (which is signed “E. A. P.”) in the Griswold Collection suggests that Frances Sargent Osgood may have been addressed in the final version, for Griswold was literary executor of both Poe and Mrs. Osgood.

I pulled this version of the work from The Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore‘s website.

The poem is eight lines with an ABABCDCD rhyme scheme. As it is so short, its meaning is pretty straight-forward. It’s pretty much a break-up diss. “I’m not sad. We’re strangers now. If anything, I’m sad that you’re sad about a stranger.” However, it is also readily apparent – to me at least – that these sentiments are not intended to be believed.

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