“Seldom we find,” says Solomon Don Dunce,
“Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.
Through all the flimsy things we see at once
As easily as through a Naples bonnet-
Trash of all trash!- how can a lady don it?
Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff-
Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff
Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.”
And, veritably, Sol is right enough.
The general tuckermanities are arrant
Bubbles- ephemeral and so transparent-
But this is, now- you may depend upon it-
Stable, opaque, immortal- all by dint
Of the dear names that he concealed within ‘t.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Allan Poe's poem An Enigma


  1. Robert M. J. Thomas says:

    “An Enigma” is a silly poem. First, Poe mentions a “Solomon Don Dunce” and we all know that Solomon was perhaps the wisest man in the Old Testament, not a dunce; then he says that you can’t find “the slightest idea in the profoundest sonnet,” when we all know that something that’s profound will be saturated with ideas; then he writes more about a profound sonnet when he mentions “the flimsy things we see at once” and compares them to a particular lady’s hat which he goes off on a tangent to disdain; and then he continues along the same vain until he refers to the sonnet of his that the reader is reading and gives it the highest praise with a sentimental ending that alludes to the secret within the poem.
    The use of the word opaque to describe his poem in wondrous terms epitomizes the silliness of it, but, interestingly, the conclusion of it, with the simple two-word reference of “dear names”, brands the poem as sincerely meaningful to his heart albeit its overall silliness.

  2. Tereasa says:

    The Name Sarah Anna Lewis is the name of the woman who cared for Poes aunt, Mrs. Clemm when Poe was traveling. She was dear to him because she advised him on financial matters and he promoted her Poetry even though he was critical of it. There is no record of them having ever being romantically involved.

  3. Logan says:

    being all of 15 this poem isnt that clear to me but, it does get me thinking. i got the whole sarah anna lewis thing which i thought was quite clever … but what the heck is a naples bonnet??

  4. edgar allen poe says:

    i love the poems but at the same time would like to ask a question . can i get help with a poem by the name MYSELF BY EDGAR ALLEN POE

  5. Ben says:

    1848 was a time in poe’s life when his wife was dead. Perhaps this sarah hanna lewis was a woman he found to satisfy him before he dies the following year

  6. Bluey says:

    Wat i’ve noticed in the poem “An Enigma” is that if u write down the letters to the lines they correspond to, for example 1st line 1st letter, 2nd line 2nd letter etc. then u end up with the name Sarah Anna Lewis, and as is my understanding, this is the woman who Poe had sent this poem to in the first place, other than this it just seems to be criticising shakespeare and his whole style of writing a sonnet very harshly…

  7. Joseph says:

    In a collection of Poe’s poems, a footnote to this poem said that if you want to understand this enigma take the first letter of the first line, the second letter of the second line and so on, and you’ll find the name of the girl to whom Poe addresses the sonnet!!

  8. jenn says:

    hey chris: tell tales heart aint a poem its a short story and i think from this poem we can get a little hint of jealousy in poe…

  9. chris kretzschmar says:

    an enigma is a good poem yet like the poets mind is an enigma. this is now my third favorite poem the first two are :the raven, and the tell tale heart both written by eager allen poe.

  10. Falah Mutlaq Fahad AL.motairy says:

    Seldom we find says solomon don dunce

    Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet

    through all the flimsy things we see at once

  11. Josh Dodson says:

    Not only is this one of my favorite poems, but Poe is easliyy my favorite poet, sad and fearful at some times, but humorous and happy at another, hes the greatest, got something for everyone

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