The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 105


The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My own fancy grew
warm with the Medoc. We had passed through walls of piled bones, with
casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the
catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunato
by an arm above the elbow.

"The nitre!" I said: "see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the
vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle
among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough--"

"It is nothing," he said; "let us go on. But first, another draught of
the Medoc."

I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave. He emptied it at a breath.
His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle
upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement--a grotesque one.

"You do not comprehend?" he said.

"Not I," I replied.

"Then you are not of the brotherhood."


"You are not of the masons."

"Yes, yes," I said, "yes, yes."

"You? Impossible! A mason?"

"A mason," I replied.

"A sign," he said.

"It is this," I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of
my _roquelaire_.

"You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to
the Amontillado."

"Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak, and again
offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our route
in search of the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches,
descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in
which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less
spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the
vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three
sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From
the fourth the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon
the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall
thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still
interior recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height
six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use
in itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal
supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their
circumscribing walls of solid granite.

It was in vain that

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Text Comparison with The Raven

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Transcriber's Notes: In the List of Illustrations I restored a missing single quote after "Lenore!": "'Wretch,' I cried, 'thy God hath lent thee--by these angels he hath sent thee Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!'" The List of Illustrations uses 'visitor' where the poem and the actual illustration use 'visiter'.
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Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he.
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_ "'Wretch,' I cried, 'thy God hath lent thee--by these angels he hath sent thee Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!'" _Victor Bernstrom.
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* * * No swellings tell that winds may be Upon some far-off happier sea-- No heavings hint that winds have been On seas less hideously serene.
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" He had made proselytes abroad, and gained a lasting hold upon the French mind.
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When a refrain of image haunted him, the lyric that resulted was the inspiration, as he himself said, of a passion, not of a purpose.
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" The manuscript appears to be in the poet's early handwriting, and its genuineness is vouched for by the family in whose possession it has remained for half a century.
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There are other trails which may be followed by the curious; notably, a passage which Mr.
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This must be allied to Beauty.
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His invention, so rich in the prose tales, seemed to desert him when he wrote verse; and his judgment told him that long romantic poems depend more upon incident than inspiration,--and that, to utter the poetry of romance, lyrics would suffice.
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" It gained a wild and melancholy music, I have thought, from the "sweet influences," of the Afric burdens and repetends that were sung to him in childhood, attuning with their native melody the voice of our Southern poet.
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There is a delight in playing one's high part: we are all gladiators, crying _Ave Imperator!_ To quote Burke's matter of fact: "In grief the pleasure is still uppermost, and the affliction we suffer has no resemblance to absolute pain, which is always odious, and which we endeavor to shake off as soon as possible.
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What is the result? Dore proffers a series of variations upon the theme as he conceived it, "the enigma of death and the hallucination of an inconsolable soul.
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Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-- Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-- Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
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" But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
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" "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting-- "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!--quit the bust above my door! Take.
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" [Illustration] "'T is some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door-- Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door.
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" [Illustration] .