The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 193

I will content myself with saying,
in addition, that my temperament is sanguine, rash, ardent,
enthusiastic--and that all my life I have been a devoted admirer of the
women.

One night last winter I entered a box at the P---Theatre, in company
with a friend, Mr. Talbot. It was an opera night, and the bills
presented a very rare attraction, so that the house was excessively
crowded. We were in time, however, to obtain the front seats which had
been reserved for us, and into which, with some little difficulty, we
elbowed our way.

For two hours my companion, who was a musical fanatico, gave his
undivided attention to the stage; and, in the meantime, I amused myself
by observing the audience, which consisted, in chief part, of the very
elite of the city. Having satisfied myself upon this point, I was about
turning my eyes to the prima donna, when they were arrested and
riveted by a figure in one of the private boxes which had escaped my
observation.

If I live a thousand years, I can never forget the intense emotion
with which I regarded this figure. It was that of a female, the most
exquisite I had ever beheld. The face was so far turned toward the stage
that, for some minutes, I could not obtain a view of it--but the form
was divine; no other word can sufficiently express its magnificent
proportion--and even the term “divine” seems ridiculously feeble as I
write it.

The magic of a lovely form in woman--the necromancy of female
gracefulness--was always a power which I had found it impossible to
resist, but here was grace personified, incarnate, the beau ideal of my
wildest and most enthusiastic visions. The figure, almost all of which
the construction of the box permitted to be seen, was somewhat above the
medium height, and nearly approached, without positively reaching, the
majestic. Its perfect fullness and tournure were delicious. The head of
which only the back was visible, rivalled in outline that of the Greek
Psyche, and was rather displayed than concealed by an elegant cap of
gaze aerienne, which put me in mind of the ventum textilem of Apuleius.
The right arm hung over the balustrade of the box, and thrilled every
nerve of my frame with its exquisite symmetry. Its upper portion was
draperied by one of the loose open sleeves now in fashion. This extended
but little below the elbow. Beneath it was worn an under one of some
frail material, close-fitting, and terminated by a cuff of rich lace,
which fell gracefully over the top of the hand, revealing only the
delicate fingers,

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