The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 83

at least while
living, would be seen by me no more.

For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned by either Usher or
myself: and during this period I was busied in earnest endeavors to
alleviate the melancholy of my friend. We painted and read together; or
I listened, as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his speaking
guitar. And thus, as a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more
unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did
I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a mind from which
darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all
objects of the moral and physical universe, in one unceasing radiation
of gloom.

I shall ever bear about me a memory of the many solemn hours I thus
spent alone with the master of the House of Usher. Yet I should fail in
any attempt to convey an idea of the exact character of the studies,
or of the occupations, in which he involved me, or led me the way. An
excited and highly distempered ideality threw a sulphureous lustre over
all. His long improvised dirges will ring forever in my ears. Among
other things, I hold painfully in mind a certain singular perversion and
amplification of the wild air of the last waltz of Von Weber. From the
paintings over which his elaborate fancy brooded, and which grew, touch
by touch, into vaguenesses at which I shuddered the more thrillingly,
because I shuddered knowing not why;--from these paintings (vivid as
their images now are before me) I would in vain endeavor to educe more
than a small portion which should lie within the compass of merely
written words. By the utter simplicity, by the nakedness of his designs,
he arrested and overawed attention. If ever mortal painted an idea, that
mortal was Roderick Usher. For me at least--in the circumstances then
surrounding me--there arose out of the pure abstractions which the
hypochondriac contrived to throw upon his canvass, an intensity of
intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation
of the certainly glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli.

One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so
rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be shadowed forth, although
feebly, in words. A small picture presented the interior of an immensely
long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and
without interruption or device. Certain accessory points of the design
served well to convey the idea that this excavation lay at an exceeding
depth below the surface of

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