A Valentine
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Always full of mystery, Edgar Allan Poe wrote this poem, “A Valentine,” in 1846. It is actually a riddle; the answer to the riddle is the name of the person Poe describes in the poem. Students will read the poem, attempt to solve the riddle, and answer questions on Poe’s use of language.

Topic(s): Realistic Fiction. Skill(s): Theme, Context Clues, Figurative Language. Genre(s): Poetry

Click for the passage & questions on one printable PDF.


This poem be Edgar Allan Poe contains a riddle. Poe challenges his readers to solve the riddle to find out who the valentine was written about.


For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
   Brightly expressive as the twins of Loeda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
   Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines!-they hold a treasure
   Divine-a talisman-an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-
   The words-the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
   And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
   If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
   Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
   Of poets, by poets-as the name is a poet’s, too.
Its letters, although naturally lying
   Like the knight Pinto-Mendez Ferdinando-
Still form a synonym for Truth-Cease trying!
   You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

Comprehension Questions

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