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Tamerlane

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This epic poem gives an account of a Turkic ruler named Tamerlane, who conquered kingdoms to win power, while giving up that which his heart desired most.
Despite the fact that his first published works were books of poetry, during his lifetime Edgar Allan Poe was recognized more for his literary criticism and prose than his poetry. However, Poe’s poetic works have since become as well-known as his famous stories, and reflect similar themes of mystery and the macabre. “Tamerlane” is one of Poe’s earliest works and gave its name to his first published book—Tamerlane and Other Poems.

25 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 1827

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About the author

Edgar Allan Poe

7,126 books23.8k followers
The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen, premature burials, and mysterious women who return from the dead. His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher. This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundreds of essays and book reviews. He is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern detective story and an innovator in the science fiction genre, but he made his living as America’s first great literary critic and theoretician. Poe’s reputation today rests primarily on his tales of terror as well as on his haunting lyric poetry.

Just as the bizarre characters in Poe’s stories have captured the public imagination so too has Poe himself. He is seen as a morbid, mysterious figure lurking in the shadows of moonlit cemeteries or crumbling castles. This is the Poe of legend. But much of what we know about Poe is wrong, the product of a biography written by one of his enemies in an attempt to defame the author’s name.

The real Poe was born to traveling actors in Boston on January 19, 1809. Edgar was the second of three children. His other brother William Henry Leonard Poe would also become a poet before his early death, and Poe’s sister Rosalie Poe would grow up to teach penmanship at a Richmond girls’ school. Within three years of Poe’s birth both of his parents had died, and he was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan in Richmond, Virginia while Poe’s siblings went to live with other families. Mr. Allan would rear Poe to be a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer in emulation of his childhood hero the British poet Lord Byron. Early poetic verses found written in a young Poe’s handwriting on the backs of Allan’s ledger sheets reveal how little interest Poe had in the tobacco business.

For more information, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_al...

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5 stars
27 (16%)
4 stars
51 (31%)
3 stars
59 (36%)
2 stars
20 (12%)
1 star
3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
1,643 reviews33 followers
October 25, 2020
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4 Stars. Final 1845 version.
"The poem does not pretend to historical accuracy, as it stresses four main themes in Poe's work: love, beauty, death and pride." Sova, Dawn, B. (2001). Edgar Allan Poe, A to Z : the essential reference to his life and work. New York: Checkmark Books. (233)
Profile Image for K. Anna Kraft.
1,076 reviews34 followers
March 18, 2020
I have arranged my takeaway thoughts into a haiku:

"Just like a garden,
Weeds can overrun motives
Left unchecked too long."
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,452 reviews466 followers
November 14, 2020
Tamerlane is an epic poem from Poe, one of his longest poems that takes you on a journey. It pulls you in with ease, with plenty of powerful lines throughout. Although it dragged a little at points, it’s a poem that packed a punch. I would not label this one of my top Poe poems, but it’s certainly one I recommend.
Profile Image for Michael Sorbello.
Author 1 book234 followers
June 15, 2018
Pursuing power and fortune can often lead to a sacrifice of the very qualities that make us human. Love, goodness, compassion, morals, sometimes we toss them aside to attain something we hold to a greater value.
Profile Image for Ebster Davis.
651 reviews43 followers
September 15, 2015
It's a poem about a guy who's confessing to a priest. It's really really pretty and made me sad at the end.
Profile Image for urwa.
248 reviews3 followers
September 12, 2020
O! craving heart, for the lost flowers
And sunshine of my summer hours!

There comes a sullenness of heart
To him who still would look upon
The glory of the summer sun.

For all we live to know is known,
And all we seek to keep hath flown—
Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall
With the noon-day beauty—which is all.

How was it that Ambition crept,
Unseen, amid the revels there,
Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt
In the tangles of Love’s very hair?
Profile Image for Brenda.
858 reviews11 followers
March 17, 2015
For something written so long ago, you'd think it would be dated and no longer powerful; you'd be wrong! This is poetry done by the master poet.
Profile Image for Robert Morris.
202 reviews33 followers
December 5, 2022
I dunno. Maybe I just don't like poetry. I've been vaguely amused by early 19th century literature recently, and this year I've been reading up on Medieval Central Asia. So, on probably the third occasion that Edgar Allan Poe's poem came up in a history book I was reading, I decided to check it out. There wasn't much here for me.

The book itself is a bit of an oddity. Apparently Poe self-published it as a teenager. Only 50 or so copies ( this point is controversial ) were produced, and only 12 are thought to still exist. So in its original edition, this is one of the most expensive books every produced in the United States. I don't really see the value. There are a few memorable turns of phrase. But it's clearly juvenilia.

Poe is reckoned to be one of our most important 19th century poets. He wasn't there yet with this one. I doubt he'd be that happy to see this book still in print. Readers who experience this as their first taste of Poe are unlikely to return for a second one. I don't know much about poetry, but even I can see that this book is made up of earnest copies of more professional efforts. The choice of Tamerlane as a subject is very typical of this Romantic era of poets. As is also typical of these poets, there is negative historical value in the poem. Tamerlane just functions as a dramatic name educated Europeans are likely to know, without having any investment in historical accuracy. Tamerlane was a fairly happily married Muslim. The chances that he spent his dying hours telling a priest about how he regrets choosing empire over young love are slim.
Profile Image for Richard Seltzer.
Author 17 books118 followers
July 20, 2022
I thought I had read every that Poe had published. I had never heard of this book before I read The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. She makes many book recommendations in that tale of two book lovers falling in love.

Tamerlane’s obscurity is well deserved. This thin and feeble attempt at poetry has no hint of the compelling rhythms of The Raven and Bells. And the longish title poem Tamerlane has no story and makes no point. There is not a single passage that I would like to highlight either for being strikingly good or strikingly bad. All 40 pages are uniformly mediocre.

But if you are a young aspiring poet, short story writer or novelist, you should read this. It could be the inspiration that you need.

Poe published this abomination at the age of 18. Only 50 copies were printed and mercifully few were ever purchased and read.

That he went on to become a great writer should give you hope that you too might rise far above your earliest attempts.
Profile Image for Andy Hickman.
4,614 reviews36 followers
August 14, 2021
“Tamerlane”
I admit that the head-space I was in meant that I retained nothing from reading it. Maybe it is better than that, but I missed it. **

O! craving heart, for the lost flowers
And sunshine of my summer hours!

There comes a sullenness of heart
To him who still would look upon
The glory of the summer sun.

For all we live to know is known,
And all we seek to keep hath flown—
Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall
With the noon-day beauty—which is all.

How was it that Ambition crept,
Unseen, amid the revels there,
Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt
In the tangles of Love’s very hair?
Profile Image for Forked Radish.
1,849 reviews79 followers
December 7, 2020
An amazing poem, considering that Poe was only 18 years old at the time of its publication. But too Byronesque for my taste.
Note: Review is for the 1845 version abridged by Poe himself.
Profile Image for Amelia Bujar.
883 reviews5 followers
June 9, 2021
FULL REVIEW ON MY BLOG
http://politicsbooksandme.com/2021/06...

The writing style in this one was amazing as you can expect from Edgar Allan Poe.

The prose itself behind this one was awesome, it was dope and it had the gothic vibe to it.

This one is for sure a must read for anyone who calls themselves a “Edgar Allan Poe fan”.

The fact that Edgar Allan Poe was only 18 years old when this one was published gives this story some extra points because it like seeing the journey of the gothic king.
Profile Image for Amy (Other Amy).
452 reviews87 followers
April 27, 2016
Poe originally published this poem in 1829 in Tamerlane and Other Poems (50 copies printed) authored by "A Bostonian." The poem had 406 lines on publication. In 1845, it was republished sans endnotes with only 234 lines. So naturally I was looking for an example of lost/nearly lost literature. But, having read it, I suspect Poe probably edited it down himself; the first half of the original poem is flat as flat can be. There is some lovely poetry in here, though.

This stood out to me:

The world — its joy — its share of pain
Which I felt not — its bodied forms
Of varied being, which contain
The bodiless spirits of the storms,
The sunshine, and the calm — the ideal
And fleeting vanities of dreams,
Fearfully beautiful! the real
Nothings of mid-day waking life —
Of an enchanted life, which seems,
Now as I look back, the strife
Of some ill demon, with a power
Which left me in an evil hour,
All that I felt, or saw, or thought,
Crowding, confused became
(With thine unearthly beauty fraught)
Thou — and the nothing of a name.


And this:

‘Tis thus when the lovely summer sun
Of our boyhood, his course hath run:
For all we live to know — is known;
And all we seek to keep — hath flown;
With the noon-day beauty, which is all.
Let life, then, as the day-flow’r, fall —
The trancient, passionate day-flow’r,
Withering at the ev’ning hour.


But then the last stanza just does not work for me. The idea is there, but the language fails. Ah, well. It's Poe. It's hard to complain.

Read online at: http://www.eapoe.org/works/poems/tame...
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews

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