The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 206

a sense--a
sentiment ineffable. His forehead, although little wrinkled, seems to
bear upon it the stamp of a myriad of years.--His gray hairs are records
of the past, and his grayer eyes are Sybils of the future. The cabin
floor was thickly strewn with strange, iron-clasped folios, and
mouldering instruments of science, and obsolete long-forgotten charts.
His head was bowed down upon his hands, and he pored, with a fiery
unquiet eye, over a paper which I took to be a commission, and which, at
all events, bore the signature of a monarch. He muttered to himself, as
did the first seaman whom I saw in the hold, some low peevish syllables
of a foreign tongue, and although the speaker was close at my elbow, his
voice seemed to reach my ears from the distance of a mile.

* * * * *

The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of Eld. The crew glide
to and fro like the ghosts of buried centuries; their eyes have an eager
and uneasy meaning; and when their fingers fall athwart my path in the
wild glare of the battle-lanterns, I feel as I have never felt before,
although I have been all my life a dealer in antiquities, and have
imbibed the shadows of fallen columns at Balbec, and Tadmor, and
Persepolis, until my very soul has become a ruin.

* * * * *

When I look around me I feel ashamed of my former apprehensions. If I
trembled at the blast which has hitherto attended us, shall I not stand
aghast at a warring of wind and ocean, to convey any idea of which
the words tornado and simoom are trivial and ineffective? All in the
immediate vicinity of the ship is the blackness of eternal night, and a
chaos of foamless water; but, about a league on either side of us, may
be seen, indistinctly and at intervals, stupendous ramparts of ice,
towering away into the desolate sky, and looking like the walls of the

* * * * *

As I imagined, the ship proves to be in a current; if that appellation
can properly be given to a tide which, howling and shrieking by the
white ice, thunders on to the southward with a velocity like the
headlong dashing of a cataract.

* * * * *

To conceive the horror of my sensations is, I presume, utterly
impossible; yet a curiosity to penetrate the mysteries of these awful
regions, predominates even over my despair, and will reconcile me to the
most hideous aspect of death. It is evident that we

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