The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 166

the full knowledge of their expression--felt it
approaching--yet not quite be mine--and so at length entirely depart!
And (strange, oh strangest mystery of all!) I found, in the commonest
objects of the universe, a circle of analogies to that expression. I
mean to say that, subsequently to the period when Ligeia’s beauty passed
into my spirit, there dwelling as in a shrine, I derived, from many
existences in the material world, a sentiment such as I felt always
aroused within me by her large and luminous orbs. Yet not the more
could I define that sentiment, or analyze, or even steadily view it.
I recognized it, let me repeat, sometimes in the survey of a
rapidly-growing vine--in the contemplation of a moth, a butterfly, a
chrysalis, a stream of running water. I have felt it in the ocean; in
the falling of a meteor. I have felt it in the glances of unusually aged
people. And there are one or two stars in heaven--(one especially, a
star of the sixth magnitude, double and changeable, to be found near the
large star in Lyra) in a telescopic scrutiny of which I have been made
aware of the feeling. I have been filled with it by certain sounds from
stringed instruments, and not unfrequently by passages from books. Among
innumerable other instances, I well remember something in a volume of
Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps merely from its quaintness--who shall
say?) never failed to inspire me with the sentiment;--“And the will
therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will,
with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by
nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto
death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.”

Length of years, and subsequent reflection, have enabled me to trace,
indeed, some remote connection between this passage in the English
moralist and a portion of the character of Ligeia. An intensity in
thought, action, or speech, was possibly, in her, a result, or at least
an index, of that gigantic volition which, during our long intercourse,
failed to give other and more immediate evidence of its existence.
Of all the women whom I have ever known, she, the outwardly calm, the
ever-placid Ligeia, was the most violently a prey to the tumultuous
vultures of stern passion. And of such passion I could form no estimate,
save by the miraculous expansion of those eyes which at once so
delighted and appalled me--by the almost magical melody, modulation,
distinctness and placidity of her very low voice--and by the

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