The Complete Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe Including Essays on Poetry

By Edgar Allan Poe

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was rescued by a boat just
as he was succumbing. On getting ashore Poe was seized with a violent
attack of vomiting, and both lads were ill for several weeks.

Alluding to another quite famous swimming feat of his own, the poet
remarked, "Any 'swimmer in the falls' in my days would have swum the
Hellespont, and thought nothing of the matter. I swam from Ludlam's
Wharf to Warwick (six miles), in a hot June sun, against one of the
strongest tides ever known in the river. It would have been a feat
comparatively easy to swim twenty miles in still water. I would not
think much," Poe added in a strain of exaggeration not unusual with him,
"of attempting to swim the British Channel from Dover to Calais."
Colonel Mayo, who had tried to accompany him in this performance, had to
stop on the way, and says that Poe, when he reached the goal, emerged
from the water with neck, face, and back blistered. The facts of this
feat, which was undertaken for a wager, having been questioned, Poe,
ever intolerant of contradiction, obtained and published the affidavits
of several gentlemen who had witnessed it. They also certified that Poe
did not seem at all fatigued, and that he walked back to Richmond
immediately after the performance.

The poet is generally remembered at this part of his career to have been
slight in figure and person, but to have been well made, active, sinewy,
and graceful. Despite the fact that he was thus noted among his
schoolfellows and indulged at home, he does not appear to have been in
sympathy with his surroundings. Already dowered with the "hate of hate,
the scorn of scorn," he appears to have made foes both among those who
envied him and those whom, in the pride of intellectuality, he treated
with pugnacious contempt. Beneath the haughty exterior, however, was a
warm and passionate heart, which only needed circumstance to call forth
an almost fanatical intensity of affection. A well-authenticated
instance of this is thus related by Mrs. Whitman:

"While at the academy in Richmond, he one day accompanied a schoolmate
to his home, where he saw, for the first time, Mrs. Helen Stannard,
the mother of his young friend. This lady, on entering the room, took
his hands and spoke some gentle and gracious words of welcome, which
so penetrated the sensitive heart of the orphan boy as to deprive him
of the power of speech, and for a time almost of consciousness itself.

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Text Comparison with The Bells, and Other Poems

Page 2
Oh, the bells, bells, bells! What a tale their terror tells Of Despair! How they clang, and clash, and roar! What a horror they outpour On the bosom of the palpitating air! Yet the ear it fully knows, By the twanging, And the clanging, How the danger ebbs and flows: Yet the ear distinctly tells, In the jangling, And the wrangling, How the danger sinks and swells, By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-- Of the bells-- Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells-- In the clamour and the clangour of the bells! IV.
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Is a groan.
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"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-- Only this, and nothing more.
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" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!-- Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-- On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore-- Is there--_is_ there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
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Ah, dream to bright to last! Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise But to be overcast! A voice from out the Future cries, "On! on!"--but o'er the Past (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies Mute, motionless, aghast! For, alas! alas! with me The light of Life is o'er! "No more--no more--no more--" (Such language holds the solemn sea To the sands upon the shore) Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree Or the stricken eagle soar! And all my days are trances, And all my nightly dreams Are where thy grey eye glances, And where thy footstep gleams-- In what ethereal dances, By what eternal streams.
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lute's well-tuned law, Round about a throne where, sitting (Porphyrogene!) In state his glory well befitting, The ruler of the realm was seen.
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The rosemary nods upon the grave; The lily lolls upon the wave; Wrapping the fog about its breast, The ruin moulders into rest; Looking like Lethe, see! the lake A conscious slumber seems to take, And would not, for the world, awake.
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" Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her, And tempted her out of her gloom-- And conquered her scruples and gloom; And we passed to the end of the vista, .
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_THE CONQUEROR WORM_ Lo! 'tis a gala night Within the lonesome latter years! An angel throng, bewinged, bedight In veils, and drowned in tears, Sit in a theatre, to see A play of hopes and fears, While the orchestra breathes fitfully The music of the spheres.
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] Of all who hail thy presence as the morning-- Of all to whom thine absence is the night-- The blotting utterly from out high heaven The sacred sun--of all who, weeping, bless thee Hourly for hope--for life--ah! above all, For the resurrection of deep-buried faith In Truth--in Virtue--in Humanity-- Of all who, on Despair's unhallowed bed Lying down to die, have suddenly arisen At thy soft-murmured words, "Let there be light!" At the soft-murmured words that were fulfilled In the seraphic glancing of thine eyes-- Of all who owe thee most--whose gratitude Nearest resembles worship--oh, remember The truest--the most fervently devoted, And think that these weak lines are written by him-- By him who, as he pens them, thrills to think His spirit is communing with an angel's.
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soul-searching eyes.
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erst it sham'd All other loveliness:--its honied dew (The fabled nectar that the heathen knew) Deliriously sweet, was dropp'd from Heaven.
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All Nature speaks, and ev'n ideal things Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings-- But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high The eternal voice of God is passing by, And the red winds are withering in the sky:-- "What tho' in worlds which sightless cycles run Linked to a little system, and one sun-- Where all my life is folly and the crowd Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud, The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath-- (Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?) What tho' in world which hold a single sun The sands of Time grow dimmer as they run, Yet thine is my resplendency, so given To bear my secrets thro' the upper Heaven Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly, With all thy train, athwart the moony sky-- Apart--like fire-flies in the Sicilian night, And wing to other worlds another light! Divulge the secrets of thy embassy To the proud orbs that twinkle--and so be To ev'ry heart a barrier and a ban Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!" Up rose the maiden in the yellow night, The single-moonèd eve!--on Earth we plight Our faith to one love--and one moon adore-- The birth-place of young Beauty had no more.
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But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen The dimness of this world: that greyish green That Nature love's the best for Beauty's grave Lurk'd in each cornice, round each architrave-- And every sculptur'd cherub thereabout That from his marble dwelling peerèd out, Seem'd earthly in the shadow of his niche-- Achaian statues in a world so rich? Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis-- From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss Of beautiful Gomorrah! O, the wave Is now upon thee--but too late to save! Sound loves to revel in a summer night: Witness the murmur of the grey twilight That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco, Of many a wild star-gazer long ago-- That stealeth ever on the ear of him Who, musing, gazeth on the distant dim, And sees the darkness coming as a cloud-- Is not its form--its voice--most palpable and loud? But what is this?--it cometh, and it brings A music with it--'tis the rush of wings-- A pause--and then a sweeping, falling strain And Nesace is in her halls again.
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" He was a goodly spirit--he who fell: A wanderer by moss-y-mantled well-- A gazer on the lights that shine above-- A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love: What wonder? for each star is eye-like there, And looks so sweetly down on Beauty's hair-- And they, and ev'ry mossy spring were holy To his love-haunted heart and melancholy.
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[Illustration: Fairy-land] _THE COLISEUM_ Type of the antique Rome! Rich reliquary Of lofty contemplation left to Time By buried centuries of pomp and power! At length--at length--after so many days Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst, (Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie,) I kneel, an altered and an humble man, Amid thy shadows, and so drink within My very soul thy grandeur, gloom, and glory! Vastness! and Age! and Memories of Eld! Silence! and Desolation! and dim Night! I feel ye now--I feel ye in your strength-- O spells more sure than e'er Judaean king Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane! O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee Ever drew down from out the quiet stars! Here, where a hero fell, a column falls! Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat! Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle! Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled, Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home, Lit by the wan light of the horned moon, The swift and silent lizard of the stones! But stay! these walls--these ivy-clad arcades-- These mouldering plinths--these sad and blackened.
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And so it lies happily, Bathing in many A dream of the truth And the beauty of Annie-- Drowned in a bath Of the tresses of Annie.
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Of Earth may shrive me of the sin Unearthly pride hath revell'd in-- I have no time to dote or dream: You call it hope--that fire of fire! It is but agony of desire: If I _can_ hope--O God! I can-- Its fount is holier--more divine-- I would not call thee fool, old man, But such is not a gift of thine.
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We walk'd together on the crown Of a high mountain which look'd down Afar from its proud natural towers Of rock and forest, on the hills-- The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers, And shouting with a thousand rills.
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Father, I firmly do believe-- I _know_--for Death, who comes for me From regions of the blest afar, Where there is nothing to deceive, Hath left his iron gate ajar, And rays of truth you cannot see Are flashing thro' Eternity---- I do believe that Eblis hath A snare in every human path-- Else how, when in the holy grove I wandered of the idol, Love, Who daily scents his snowy wings With incense of burnt offerings From the most unpolluted things, Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven Above with trellis'd rays from Heaven No mote may shun--no tiniest fly-- The light'ning of his eagle eye-- 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?.