“Hope is a thing with feathers” — A poem by Emily Dickinson

Gently and softspoken, Emily Dickinson expresses her thoughts about hope and compares it to “the thing” with feathers. Notice how careful she is with the words. How does she describe hope? It’s more like a tune which can’t be seen. What does the narrator reveal about the tune? Where can it be heard?

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.


”Abraham Lincoln is my name” – A short poem by Abe

President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) had many talents, and one of his less known was his interest in poetry. He started to write poetry at an early age and one early attempt to greatness is perhaps shown in the following few lines written about 15 or 17. About 9 poems seemed to have survived and are included in the Collected Works by Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln is my nam[e]
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote in both hast and speed
and left it here for fools to read.



Journals by Lizzie Borden’s lawyer Andrew J. Jennings to be conserved and published

The Jennings’ journals surface after 120 years

The Jenning’s Journals. People has searched for a final clue here. Did she or didn’t she?

Andrew Jackson Jennings (1849-1923) was Lizzie Borden’s attorney during the two weeks of trial in 1893. Lizzie herself had already spend 9 months in prison prior up to the trial. During the trial about a year after the murders the prosecution received several blows. Lizzie Borden’s inquest was not considered valid since she was high on morphine when the police questioned her. Her attorney also complained her legal rights was set aside a she was questioned without any attorney present. The autopsies didn’t reveal any signs of poison being present so the pharmacist testimony about Lizzie trying to buy prussic acid (cyanide) a day before the murders was ruled out.

THE CONSERVATION OF THE JENNING’S JOURNAL is good news to all people interested in the local history of Falls City, New England and the murder case. The murder of Lizzie Borden’s parents remains one of the most sensational and unsolved crimes in the american history. As the prime suspect Lizzie Borden was found not guilty of murder the local citizens of Fall River alienated her and the nursery rhyme Lizzie Borden took an axe…rendered her guilty for all time.

The Jennings’ journals consists of a scrap-book with newspaper clips concerning the unsolved case and a reference ledger. At time miss Borden had the best attorney money could buy at this time, Andrew Jackson Jennings. When the journals were opened people searched for evidence of Lizzie’s guilt. There was none. If Lizzie had confessed murder to her lawyer he certainly wouldn’t have written anything down about it which would be left to other people to read about.

Lizzie A. Borden (1860-1927)

THE TRIAL of Lizzie Borden has often been compared to O.J Simpson’s trial. Both were rich and was accused of double-murder. Both faced death penalty.  Both had good lawyers who may have helped them get away with murder. During the trials media showed a great interest in both cases and produced sensational headlines. Both of them did crime after they were acquitted of the murders. Lizzie Borden was however never sentenced again, but she did take up on a bad habit from her youth – shoplifting. This resulted in a police warrant but she was able to make it fair with the shop keepers by paying for what she had stolen. This was not a problem since Lizzie and her sister Emma became millionaires after the death of their father.

But the murder trial was not the last time the American Justice System would hear about Lizzie Borden. There was another incident embarrassing to Lizzie who never moved away from Fall City. Only a few years after acquittal a judge received a letter from a married man accusing his wife of lesbianism and Lizzie’s name was mentioned as evidence from a correspondence. The judge dismissed the accusation as frivolous.

Crime Scene, August 4th 1892 

Abby Borden was killed first and then the killer hid in the house for about one and half hour until Andrew Borden arrived home. One dead body and a killer waiting for one and a half hour in the building without anyone in the household taking ay notice. This murder case must be unique. Andrew came home a bit early that day because he was not feeling well. Upon arrival Andrew is surprised he cannot enter his house, it’s locked. After awhile Lizzie opens the door.

While Abby Borden was clubbed down with the through hatched 19 blows Andrew Borden’s face was hacked out beyond recognition. One of his eyeballs was split. The photos from the crime scene are hideous and Mr Borden had literally no face left! Lizzie also gives the maid Bridget Sullivan alibi. During the trial Lizzie showed some strange behaviour. She was often seen giggling and behaving irrational. Many times she was looking at her lawyer for some support almost asking him how to behave properly. After the trial and Lizzie’s acquaintance Bridget moved from Fall River never to be heard from again. In the town’s Central Church the Borden family owned a pew. Once acquitted Lizzie wanted go back to her church. When she got there she noticed all seats around hers was empty. She understood that people had moved away from her on propose and after the experience she never sat her foot in that church again.

Tensions within the family revealed

There was much tension within the family and the house. The irish maid Bridget Sullivan probably didn’t like working there and she wasn’t even addressed by her own Christian name. Instead the family  used the previous maids name whenever they called on Bridget. At court Bridget was asked bout this – didn’t she find it derogatory?  Bridget Sullivan answered she didn’t mind this.

MUCH OF THE FUSS in the family sprung from Andrew Borden’s marriage to Abby McDuffy. They married 2-3 years after the death of Emma and Lizzie’s biological mother. His daughters never seemed to have accepted the new wife and at one point Lizzie stopped calling Mrs Borden “mother”.

At the age of 32 Lizzie was given 4 dollars a week in pocket-money and it’s possible she thought 4 dollars wasn’t enough for her. The shoplifting also embarrassed her father but he paid all these expenses whenever a shopkeeper needed to talk to him about Lizzie’s behaviour in the store. On one occasion she stole jewellery at home. More tensions arouse in the household as Andrew announced he was going to buy a new house to their stepmother’s sister. When Lizzie and Emma heard this they stopped taking meals together with Abby and prefered eating in another room. It could not have been easy for Abby Borden to be a new mother to these girls and there was a big difference in age between her and Andrew. After the death of his first wife he needed someone to take her place and Abby was unmarried. The marriage was likely not a love match. WHEN the police asked questions about her mother Abby Borden, Lizzie was quick to respond that she was not her real mother, but a stepmother.

The incest-theory has been put forth several times and has been viewed by many as a possible trigger to murder. Especially since victims of incest often blame both parents. Her biological father gave Lizzie his own middle name, Andrew. At her inquest 32 years later she stated her full legal name: Lizzie Andrew Borden. “You were so christened?” the district attorney asked. “I was so christened,” she replied. After the trial Borden would change her first name Lizzie into Lizbeth although she continued to sign legal documents with both names.

And the motive?

It’s suggested money was the prime motive behind the killings of Andrew Borden and his wife Abby. Andrew Borden had worked hard all his life as a business man and upon his death his wealth was worth 8.000.000 dollars. The only persons who could have profited from their deaths were the daughters, Lizzie and Emma Borden. It’s known that Lizzie wanted a better lifestyle and was not happy at the house at 92 2nd Street. It was not a modern place and they had no electricity or any running water installed. Water was drawn from a pump in a sink room. The father refused to move the family elsewhere since the house was located in the city and not too far away from his office. More tensions come forth after her father revealed he was going to change his will including some of his new wife’s relatives. After the trial the sisters inherited their father’s fortune and Lizzie Borden and her sister could finally live at French Street on the Hill.

Emma Borden continued to maintain her belief in her sister’s innocence as long as she lived. She died only nine days after the death of her infamous sister who had left her out of her will. Clause 28 of Lizzie’s will read: “I have not given my sister, Emma L. Borden, anything as she had her share of her father’s estate and is supposed to have enough to make her comfortable.” She signed the will as both Lizzie A. Borden and Lizbeth A. Borden. People who inherited Lizzie Borden were friends, loyal servants and The Animal rescue of Fall River. She also left a huge sum of money to the perpetual care of her father’s gravesite.

Other suspects?

After the killings and the trial there were no more beastly murders involving hatchets around. Things got quiet in Fall river. The sisters sold their old home and moved up to the Hill were other family members already lived. And no other suspect or suspects was heard or inquired. After Lizzie was acquitted the police continued to receive letters from all around the world for years from people who wanted to help solve the case.

The Scottish poems in Lizzie’s house

She had the following lines inscribed on the mantle of her house at French Street. It has the following lines:

“The Green Leaf of Loyalty’s beginning to fall
The Bonnie white Rose it is withering an’ all
But I’ll water it with the Blood of usurping tyranny
And green it will grow in my ain countree”

The Bonnie white rose in the poem may be something she choose to identify with. Another line of poetry is located over the fire-place in Lizzie’s bedroom:

“And old time friends, and twilight plays
And starry nights, and sunny days
Come trouping up the misty ways
When my fire burns low.”

Sources & Newspapers reports on the Jenning Journals’






wikipedia.org [various entries; photos; biographies related to the Lizzie Borden Case]

“Annabel Lee” : A poem by Edgar Allan Poe


THIS is the final poem known to have been written by Poe (1841-1849) and published posthumously first time October, 1849. The publishers were Sartain’s Union Magazine, John Sartain. We can only speculate who the woman is in this poem, but it’s possible Annabel Lee may be Poe’s own wife who died 2 years before Poe himself.


LOVE AND DEATH are major themes in this poetic story in which the narrator in first person tells of his love for the beautiful woman who is dead. Death and women are central motifs in Poe’s writing and much research has been done on how and why. Departure and grief are also present.



It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

“Israfel” – A poem by Edgar A. Poe

THE POEM ISRAFEL [transl. Isrāfīl] was written while Edgar A. Poe (1809-1849) was at West Point and first published in April 1831. At West Point Poe didn’t accomplish much except getting expelled from the Military Academy. He was however more determined to become a writer. This one of a few poems which relate to Muslim literature. Apparently he read from an English translation of the Qur’an and maybe several other sources on Islam. Not much research has been done on why Edgar A. Poe took an interest in reading various scriptures from Arabic literature. He was, for sure, familiar with the stories from The Arabian Nights. In this poem he touches briefly on two islamic motifs – the Archangel Israfel and the Koranic Houris. The story which emerges about Israfel in this poem places Poe as a poet within the Romantic tradition. There are much focus on feelings, music and the heart. All of them various expressions typical of Romanticism. The poem consists of uneven stanzas, each stanza ranging from five to eight lines in length. Israfel plays his lute with passion and he sing both wildly and with fire. Israfel’s singing gets noticed as the Heavens listen to him.

Israfel, (1375-1425) Mamluk Dynasty.

The word Israfel is not mentioned in the Quran, but in the Hadiths. However, there’s one Koranic verse which relates to his mission: “And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those that are in the heavens and all those that are in the earth shall swoon, except Allah; then it shall be blown again, then they shall stand up awaiting.” —Qur’an (39.68).

He’s one of the four archangels and often depicted with a horn. On the Day of Resurrection Israfel will appear on a holy rock in Jerusalem, blow the horn and announce the day has arrived. In the Judeo Christian tradition Israfel’s counterpart is Raphael. As already mentioned, Poe also include the Houris in this poem. They are a sort of companions dwelling in Paradise and mentioned several times in the Qur’an. The 72 virgins in the islamic tradition are Huoris.Various interpretations on them among Muslim scholars reveal they are made for lusty adventures for men in Paradise. A Western counterpart would be the Greek nymphs.

In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
“Whose heart-strings are a lute”;
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.

Tottering above
In her highest noon,
The enamoured moon
Blushes with love,
While, to listen, the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads, even,
Which were seven,)
Pauses in Heaven.

And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli’s fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings—
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.

But the skies that angel trod,
Where deep thoughts are a duty,
Where Love’s a grown-up God,
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.

Therefore, thou art not wrong,
Israfeli, who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
Best bard, because the wisest!
Merrily live, and long!

The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit—
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
With the fervour of thy lute—
Well may the stars be mute!

Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely-flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.

If I could dwell
Where Israfel
Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.



Houri Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Islamic Elements in Poe’s “Al Aaraaf” and “Israfel” – by: ADNAN M. WAZZAN Islamic Studies. Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn 1988), pp. 221-229

Israfil Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Arthur Rackham’s illustrations to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”

Ligeia, short story published in 1838

Arthur Rackham (19 September 1867 – 6 September 1939) was an English book illustrator. When I was about 10-12 years I loved to read from Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I remember I borrowed it a couple of times from the local library. I cannot say I understood all of his stories at such a young age but I sure loved the dramatic art connected to them. Most of the time I would admire the paintings and read the additional description rather than the entire story. Many of these stories had illustrations made by Arthur Rackham. He made 12 colour illustrations for Poe’s tales in 1935 and several others in black/white.

Rackham was born in Lewisham, Kent and was one of 12 children. He worked as a clerk before getting accepted as a student (18yrs) at The Lambeth School of Art. Arthur Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration which roughly encompassed the years from 1890 until the end of the First World War. During that period, there was a strong market for high quality illustrated books which typically were given as Christmas gifts. Many of Rackham’s books were produced in a de luxe limited edition, often vellum bound and sometimes signed, as well as a larger, less ornately bound quarto ‘trade’ edition. This was often followed by a more modestly presented octavo edition in subsequent years for particularly popular books. The onset of the war in 1914 curtailed the market for such quality books, and the public’s taste for fantasy and fairies also declined in the 1920s.

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) is one of the most wellknown authors in American Literature and was quickly introduced to Europe through people like Charles Baudelaire who appreciated Poes’s writing. Many regard Poe as the father of the detective genre. I like some of his short stories and the poetry.


The Fall of the House of Usher, first published in September 1839 in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine

William Wilson, short story published in October 1839.
The Oval Portrait, first published in April 1842.
Cask of Amontillado, first published in 1846.

Tales of Mystery and Imagination contains only a small number of stories. Most editions include – “William Wilson” “The Gold Bug” “The Fall of the House of Usher” “The Masque of the Red Death” “The Cask of Amontillado” “A Descent into the Maelström” “The Pit and the Pendulum” “The Purloined Letter” “Metzengerstein” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” “The Tell-Tale Heart”.