The Masque of the Red Death

By Edgar Allan Poe

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embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a
sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel
effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and
narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued
the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose
colour varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations
of the chamber into which it opened. That at the eastern extremity was
hung, for example in blue--and vividly blue were its windows. The
second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the
panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the
casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange--the fifth
with white--the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely
shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and
down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same
material and hue. But in this chamber only, the colour of the windows
failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were
scarlet--a deep blood colour. Now in no one of the seven apartments
was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden
ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof.
There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the
suite of chambers. But in the corridors that followed the suite, there
stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of
fire, that projected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly
illumined the room. And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and
fantastic appearances. But in the western or black chamber the effect
of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the
blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a
look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of
the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all.

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western
wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a
dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the
circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from
the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep
and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar

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Text Comparison with The Raven and The Philosophy of Composition

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Perrett The Decorations by Will Jenkins [Illustration] Paul Elder and Company San Francisco and New York Contents Foreword .
Page 1
Coming from Poe’s own hand, it directly avoids the charge of presumption; and written in Poe’s most felicitous style, it entirely escapes the defect—not uncommon in analytical treatises—of pedantry.
Page 2
Either history affords a thesis—or one is suggested by an incident of the day—or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative—designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may, from page to page, render themselves apparent.
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We commence, then, with this intention.
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For this reason, at least one-half of the “Paradise Lost” is essentially prose—a succession of poetical excitements interspersed, inevitably, with corresponding depressions—the whole being deprived, through the extremeness of its length, of the vastly important artistic element, totality, or unity, of effect.
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The length, the province, and the tone, being thus determined, I betook myself to ordinary induction, with the view of obtaining some artistic piquancy which might serve me as a keynote in the construction of the poem—some pivot upon which the whole structure might turn.
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I resolved to diversify, and so heighten, the effect, by adhering, in general, to the monotone of sound, while I continually varied that of thought: that is to say, I determined to produce continuously novel effects, by the variation of the application of the refrain—the refrain itself remaining, for the most part, unvaried.
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Now, never losing sight of the object supremeness, or perfection, at all points, I asked myself—“Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?” Death—was the obvious reply.
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” I composed this stanza, at this point, first that, by establishing the climax, I might the better vary and graduate, as regards seriousness and importance, the preceding queries of the lover; and, secondly, that I might definitely settle the rhythm, the meter, and the length and general arrangement of the stanza, as well as graduate the stanzas which were to precede, so that none of them might surpass this in rhythmical effect.
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I determined, then, to place the lover in his chamber—in a chamber rendered sacred to him by memories of her who had frequented it.
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He comes in “with many a flirt and flutter.
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They, with the answer, “Nevermore,” dispose the mind to.
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” [Illustration] Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
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“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore— Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;— ’Tis the wind and nothing more.
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_] [Illustration] Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, “Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore— Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of ‘Never—nevermore.
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H.