Edgar Allan Poe, "Letter to B." Poems. New York: Elam Bliss, 1831.

Manuscript of "The Conqueror Worm"

Edgar Allan Poe, manuscript of "The Conqueror Worm," October-November 1842.

"The Conqueror Worm"

Edgar Allan Poe, "The Conqueror Worm." Graham's Magazine, January 1843.

Manuscript of "Eulalie-A Song"

Edgar Allan Poe, manuscript of "Eulalie-A Song," circa 1845.

First page of "Eulalie" a Song

Edgar Allan Poe, "Eulalie," The American Review, July 1845.

Page of The Bells

Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells. Porter and Coates, 1881.

"Annabel Lee"

Edgar Allan Poe, "Annabel Lee." Sartain's Union Magazine, January 1850. Composite of two details.

Cover of "Beautiful Annabel Lee" sheet music

Frederick S. Manning, cover illustration for "Beautiful Annabel Lee," lyrics by Alfred Bryan and Artie Mehlinger, music by George W. Meyer. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1920.

First page of "Annabel Lee: Song" sheet music

John Philip Sousa, "Annabel Lee: Song," lyrics by Edgar Allan Poe. Philadelphia: Thomas Presser Co., 1931.

Illustration of "Annabel Lee"

Edmund Dulac, "Annabel Lee" illustration for Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells and Other Poems. New York and London: Hodder and Stoughton, circa 1912.

Several of Poe’s poems have inspired songs. Some, like “Annabel Lee,” have been set to music multiple times. The musical adaptability of his poetry is not surprising, given that Poe believed music to be the perfect vehicle for what he called “the Poetic Sentiment.” And he felt strongly that poetry should appeal to the auditory sense.

In the “Conqueror Worm,” first published in Graham’s Magazine in 1843, we hear “the music of the spheres,” and we listen to an orchestra as it “breathes fitfully.” In Poe’s late poem “The Bells,” we hear jingling and tinkling as “foretelling melodies” clang, rhyme, and ring. Throughout Poe’s verse, alliteration (“float and flow,” “mutter and mumble”), rhyme (“fears—tears—spheres,”), and repetition (“Nevermore”) produce echoing effects in the reader’s mind and memory.

Master of Variety