The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 27

that I could not distinguish a star with
nearly as much precision, when I gazed on it with earnest, direct and
undeviating attention, as when I suffered my eye only to glance in
its vicinity alone. I was not, of course, at that time aware that this
apparent paradox was occasioned by the center of the visual area being
less susceptible of feeble impressions of light than the exterior
portions of the retina. This knowledge, and some of another kind, came
afterwards in the course of an eventful five years, during which I
have dropped the prejudices of my former humble situation in life, and
forgotten the bellows-mender in far different occupations. But at the
epoch of which I speak, the analogy which a casual observation of a star
offered to the conclusions I had already drawn, struck me with the force
of positive conformation, and I then finally made up my mind to the
course which I afterwards pursued.

"It was late when I reached home, and I went immediately to bed. My
mind, however, was too much occupied to sleep, and I lay the whole night
buried in meditation. Arising early in the morning, and contriving
again to escape the vigilance of my creditors, I repaired eagerly to the
bookseller's stall, and laid out what little ready money I possessed,
in the purchase of some volumes of Mechanics and Practical Astronomy.
Having arrived at home safely with these, I devoted every spare moment
to their perusal, and soon made such proficiency in studies of this
nature as I thought sufficient for the execution of my plan. In the
intervals of this period, I made every endeavor to conciliate the
three creditors who had given me so much annoyance. In this I finally
succeeded--partly by selling enough of my household furniture to satisfy
a moiety of their claim, and partly by a promise of paying the balance
upon completion of a little project which I told them I had in view, and
for assistance in which I solicited their services. By these means--for
they were ignorant men--I found little difficulty in gaining them over
to my purpose.

"Matters being thus arranged, I contrived, by the aid of my wife and
with the greatest secrecy and caution, to dispose of what property I had
remaining, and to borrow, in small sums, under various pretences,
and without paying any attention to my future means of repayment, no
inconsiderable quantity of ready money. With the means thus accruing I
proceeded to procure at intervals, cambric muslin, very fine, in pieces
of twelve yards each; twine; a lot of the

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E.
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us on, by this tremulous light! Let us bathe in this crystalline light! Its Sybillic splendor is beaming With Hope and in Beauty to-night-- See!--it flickers up the sky through the night! Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming, And be sure it will lead us aright-- We safely may trust to a gleaming That cannot but guide us aright, Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.
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Thy words are madness, daughter, And speak a purpose unholy--thy lips are livid-- Thine eyes are wild--tempt not the wrath divine! Pause ere too late!--oh, be not--be not rash! Swear not the oath--oh, swear it not! Lal.
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A portrait taken after death.
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They weep:--from off their delicate stems Perennial tears descend in gems.
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About twelve by the moon-dial One, more filmy than the rest (A kind which, upon trial, They have found to be the best) Comes down--still down--and down With its centre on the crown Of a mountain's eminence, While its wide circumference In easy drapery falls Over hamlets, over halls, Wherever they may be-- O'er the strange woods--o'er the sea-- Over spirits on the wing-- Over every drowsy thing-- .
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II Perhaps it may be that my mind is wrought To a fever* by the moonbeam that hangs o'er, But I will half believe that wild light fraught With more of sovereignty than ancient lore Hath ever told-or is it of a thought The unembodied essence, and no more That with a quickening spell doth o'er us pass As dew of the night-time, o'er the summer grass? III Doth o'er us pass, when, as th' expanding eye To the loved object-so the tear to the lid Will start, which lately slept in apathy? And yet it need not be--(that object) hid From us in life-but common-which doth lie Each hour before us--but then only bid With a strange sound, as of a harp-string broken T' awake us--'Tis a symbol and a token IV Of what in other worlds shall be--and given In beauty by our God, to those alone Who otherwise would fall from life and Heaven Drawn by their heart's passion, and that tone, That high tone of the spirit which hath striven Though not with Faith-with godliness--whose throne With desperate energy 't hath beaten down; .