INTRODUCTION TO THE POEM:The poem Israfel, was penned in an army encampment after Poe left college and was first published in the year 1831 in a collection titled Edgar. A. Poe. However, it was altered and amended to be published again in the August 1836 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger. The poem was originally written in eight stanzas of varied lengths and in an introduction to the poem, Poe explicates that he derives the legend of Israfel from the Koran of an angel who is blessed with a lute for a heart and who possesses “the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures”. In reality, although the name ‘Israfel’ is not principally mentioned in the Islamic holy texts, there is a constant reference to an unnamed trumpet-angel and it is probable that this figure is what inspired Poe to create the poem Israfel.
SETTING OF ISRAFEL: The poem Israfel has the air of majestic musical beauty and the various ancient references to Islamic scriptures lends to it an exotic charm. The poem resembles in setting to the highly acclaimed poem by Coleridge titled Kubla Khan. But the historical treatment of the poem and the imitation of eastern lore also reminds us of the poem Tamerlane, another poem by Poe. The chief setting lies in the conflict between the heavenly and the earthly, the mystical power and the struggling reality of difficult mortal life.
MOOD OF ISRAFEL: Plenty of the writer’s works are generally considered segments of the dark romanticism genre, and it was a stance of literary protest against transcendentalism, which Poe was not in favour of. However, in the poem Israfel, Poe dynamically shifts his attention to a more high-spirited and brighter platform of celestial celebration of love and music, as the usage of words such as “merrily” and “laurel” and “hymns” suggest in the poem. Hence, the overall mood of the poem is pleasant and insinuating.