The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 86

And travellers now within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows, see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a rapid ghastly river,
Through the pale door,
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh--but smile no more.

I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad, led us into
a train of thought wherein there became manifest an opinion of Usher's
which I mention not so much on account of its novelty, (for other men
* have thought thus,) as on account of the pertinacity with which
he maintained it. This opinion, in its general form, was that of the
sentience of all vegetable things. But, in his disordered fancy, the
idea had assumed a more daring character, and trespassed, under certain
conditions, upon the kingdom of inorganization. I lack words to express
the full extent, or the earnest _abandon_ of his persuasion. The belief,
however, was connected (as I have previously hinted) with the gray
stones of the home of his forefathers. The conditions of the sentience
had been here, he imagined, fulfilled in the method of collocation of
these stones--in the order of their arrangement, as well as in that of
the many _fungi_ which overspread them, and of the decayed trees which
stood around--above all, in the long undisturbed endurance of this
arrangement, and in its reduplication in the still waters of the tarn.
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. The result was discoverable, he added, in that silent, yet
importunate and terrible influence which for centuries had moulded the
destinies of his family, and which made _him_ what I now saw him--what
he was. Such opinions need no comment, and I will make none.

* Watson, Dr. Percival, Spallanzani, and especially the Bishop of
Landaff.--See "Chemical Essays," vol v.

Our books--the books which, for years, had formed no small portion of
the mental existence of the invalid--were, as might be supposed, in
strict keeping with this character of phantasm. We pored together over

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Text Comparison with The Raven

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STEDMAN NEW YORK HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE 1884 Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by HARPER & BROTHERS, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
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_ "On this home by Horror haunted.
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Even though the poet himself, in his other mood, tell you that his art is but sleight of hand, his food enchanter's food, and offer to show you the trick of it,--believe him not.
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" Each seems without a prototype, yet all fascinate us with elements wrested from the shadow of the Supernatural.
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Still, one of these lyrics, in its smaller way, affects us with a sense of uniqueness, as surely as the sublimer works of a supernatural cast,--Marlowe's "Faustus," the "Faust" of Goethe, "Manfred," or even those ethereal masterpieces, "The Tempest" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream.
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Poems_, 1845, a book which the poet shortly felt encouraged to offer the public.
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The generous poetess felt nothing but the true originality of the poet.
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" I select from Mr.
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"The death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world,--and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such a topic are those of a bereaved lover.
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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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"The Philosophy of Composition," his analysis of _The Raven_, is a technical dissection of its method and structure.
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" But it seems to me that his ill-luck ended with his pitiable death, and that since then his defence has been persistent, and his fame of as steadfast growth as a suffering and gifted author could pray for in his hopeful hour.
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We see objects as his personages saw them, and with the very eyes of the Wandering Jew, the bewildered Don, or the goldsmith's daughter whose fancy so magnifies the King in the shop on the Pont-au-Change.
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wrought the image of a star-eyed Genius with the final torch, the exquisite semblance of one whose vision beholds, but whose lips may not utter, the mysteries of a land beyond "the door of a legended tomb.
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Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!" This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" Merely this and nothing more.
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'" But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-- What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore.
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" "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!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
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" [Illustration] "Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.