The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 76

suspicions. I wish you all health, and a little
more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this--this is a very well
constructed house." [In the rabid desire to say something easily, I
scarcely knew what I uttered at all.]--"I may say an _excellently_ well
constructed house. These walls--are you going, gentlemen?--these walls
are solidly put together;" and here, through the mere phrenzy of
bravado, I rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand, upon
that very portion of the brick-work behind which stood the corpse of the
wife of my bosom.

But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No
sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was
answered by a voice from within the tomb!--by a cry, at first muffled
and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into
one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman--a
howl--a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as
might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the
dammed in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation.

Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. Swooning, I staggered to
the opposite wall. For one instant the party upon the stairs remained
motionless, through extremity of terror and of awe. In the next, a dozen
stout arms were toiling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already
greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect before the eyes of
the spectators. Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye
of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder,
and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. I had walled
the monster up within the tomb!


Son coeur est un luth suspendu;
Sitot qu'on le touche il resonne..

_ De Beranger_.

DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the
year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had
been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of
country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew
on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how
it was--but, with the first glimpse of the

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Text Comparison with The Fall of the House of Usher

Page 0
It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression; and, acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down--but with a shudder even more thrilling than before--upon the remodelled and inverted images of the grey sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows.
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The writer spoke of acute bodily illness--of a mental disorder which oppressed him--and of an earnest desire to see me, as his best, and indeed his only personal friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness of my society, some alleviation of his malady.
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Such, I have long known, is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis.
Page 3
The room in which I found myself was very large and lofty.
Page 4
The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated rather than fell about the face, I could not, even with effort, connect its Arabesque expression with any idea of simple humanity.
Page 5
In this unnerved--in this pitiable condition--I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR.
Page 6
The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of her physicians.
Page 7
But the fervid facility of his impromptus could not be so accounted for.
Page 8
In the monarch Thought's dominion-- It stood there! Never seraph spread a pinion Over fabric half so fair.
Page 9
Page 10
The belief, however, was connected (as I.
Page 11
Its evidence--the evidence of the sentience--was to be seen, he said, (and I here started as he spoke,) in the gradual yet certain condensation of an atmosphere of their own about the waters and the walls.
Page 12
And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an observable change came over the.
Page 13
Sleep came not near my couch--while the hours waned and waned away.
Page 14
I presently recognized it as that of Usher.
Page 15
It was, beyond doubt, the coincidence alone which had arrested my attention; for, amid the rattling of the sashes of the casements, and the ordinary commingled noises of the still increasing storm, the sound, in itself, had nothing, surely, which should have interested or disturbed me.
Page 16
" Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild amazement--for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound--the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up for the dragon's unnatural shriek as described by the romancer.
Page 17
I heard them--many, many days ago--yet I dared not--I dared not speak! And now--to-night--Ethelred--ha! ha!--the breaking of the hermit's door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangour of the shield!--say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footsteps on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? Madman!" here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul--"Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door!" As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell--the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony.
Page 18
There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame.