The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 114

dark valleys, and the gray rocks, and
the waters that silently smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy
slumbers, and the proud watchful mountains that look down upon all,--I
love to regard these as themselves but the colossal members of one vast
animate and sentient whole--a whole whose form (that of the sphere)
is the most perfect and most inclusive of all; whose path is among
associate planets; whose meek handmaiden is the moon, whose mediate
sovereign is the sun; whose life is eternity, whose thought is that of
a God; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies are lost in
immensity, whose cognizance of ourselves is akin with our own cognizance
of the animalculae which infest the brain--a being which we, in
consequence, regard as purely inanimate and material much in the same
manner as these animalculae must thus regard us.

Our telescopes and our mathematical investigations assure us on
every hand--notwithstanding the cant of the more ignorant of the
priesthood--that space, and therefore that bulk, is an important
consideration in the eyes of the Almighty. The cycles in which the stars
move are those best adapted for the evolution, without collision, of
the greatest possible number of bodies. The forms of those bodies are
accurately such as, within a given surface, to include the greatest
possible amount of matter;--while the surfaces themselves are
so disposed as to accommodate a denser population than could be
accommodated on the same surfaces otherwise arranged. Nor is it any
argument against bulk being an object with God, that space itself is
infinite; for there may be an infinity of matter to fill it. And
since we see clearly that the endowment of matter with vitality is a
principle--indeed, as far as our judgments extend, the leading principle
in the operations of Deity,--it is scarcely logical to imagine it
confined to the regions of the minute, where we daily trace it, and not
extending to those of the august. As we find cycle within cycle without
end,--yet all revolving around one far-distant centre which is the
God-head, may we not analogically suppose in the same manner, life
within life, the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit
Divine? In short, we are madly erring, through self-esteem, in believing
man, in either his temporal or future destinies, to be of more moment
in the universe than that vast "clod of the valley" which he tills and
contemns, and to which he denies a soul for no more profound reason than
that he does not behold it in operation. (*2)

These fancies, and such as these, have always given to my

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Text Comparison with The Raven Illustrated

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curtain Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic Terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating Of my heart, I stood repeating, "'Tis some visitor entreating Entrance at my chamber door-- Some late visitor entreating Entrance at my chamber door; This it is and nothing more.
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"Surely," said I, "surely that is Something at my window lattice; [Illustration: 0019] 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: 0022] Then this ebony bird beguiling My sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum Of the countenance it wore, " Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, Thou," I said, " art sure no craven, Ghastly, grim and ancient Raven Wandering from the Nightly shore-- Tell me what thy lordly name is On the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
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" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
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" This I sat engaged in guessing, But no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now Burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, With my head at ease reclining On the cushion's velvet lining That the lamplight gloated o'er, But.
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" [Illustration: 0029] [Illustration: 0031] [Illustration: 9031] "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!" .
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" [Illustration: 0033] 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 thy beak from out my heart, and Take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
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And the lamplight o'er him streaming Throws his shadow on the floor, And my soul from out that shadow That lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore! [Illustration: 0035].