The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 86

endured at any period of this
fearful drama was while I occupied myself in the arrangement of the
lots. There are few conditions into which man can possibly fall where he
will not feel a deep interest in the preservation of his existence;
an interest momentarily increasing with the frailness of the tenure by
which that existence may be held. But now that the silent, definite, and
stern nature of the business in which I was engaged (so different from
the tumultuous dangers of the storm or the gradually approaching horrors
of famine) allowed me to reflect on the few chances I had of escaping
the most appalling of deaths--a death for the most appalling of
purposes--every particle of that energy which had so long buoyed me up
departed like feathers before the wind, leaving me a helpless prey to
the most abject and pitiable terror. I could not, at first, even summon
up sufficient strength to tear and fit together the small splinters of
wood, my fingers absolutely refusing their office, and my knees knocking
violently against each other. My mind ran over rapidly a thousand absurd
projects by which to avoid becoming a partner in the awful speculation.
I thought of falling on my knees to my companions, and entreating them
to let me escape this necessity; of suddenly rushing upon them, and,
by putting one of them to death, of rendering the decision by lot
useless--in short, of every thing but of going through with the matter
I had in hand. At last, after wasting a long time in this imbecile
conduct, I was recalled to my senses by the voice of Parker, who urged
me to relieve them at once from the terrible anxiety they were enduring.
Even then I could not bring myself to arrange the splinters upon the
spot, but thought over every species of finesse by which I could trick
some one of my fellow-sufferers to draw the short straw, as it had been
agreed that whoever drew the shortest of four splinters from my hand was
to die for the preservation of the rest. Before any one condemn me for
this apparent heartlessness, let him be placed in a situation precisely
similar to my own.

At length delay was no longer possible, and, with a heart almost
bursting from my bosom, I advanced to the region of the forecastle,
where my companions were awaiting me. I held out my hand with the
splinters, and Peters immediately drew. He was free--his, at least, was
not the shortest; and there was now another chance against my escape.
I summoned up

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Text Comparison with The Raven

Page 0
" _R.
Page 1
'" _Frederick Juengling.
Page 2
Tietze.
Page 3
_ "'Tell me truly, I implore-- Is there--_is_ there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!'" _W.
Page 5
Of all these mystical cadences, the plaint of _The Raven_, vibrating through the portal, chiefly has impressed the outer world.
Page 6
It was given to Edgar Allan Poe to produce two lyrics, "The Bells" and _The Raven_, each of which, although perhaps of less beauty than those of Tennyson and Rossetti, is a unique.
Page 7
" The poet settled in New-York, in the winter of 1844-'45, finding work upon Willis's paper, "The Evening Mirror," and eking out his income by contributions elsewhere.
Page 8
He had learned his own power and weakness, and was at his prime, and not without a certain reputation.
Page 10
Browning, author of 'Paracelsus,' &c.
Page 11
" Nevertheless, after pointing out these germs and resemblances, the value of this poem still is found in its originality.
Page 12
The _tone_ of the highest Beauty is one of Sadness.
Page 13
at its calamity.
Page 14
"The Philosophy of Composition," his analysis of _The Raven_, is a technical dissection of its method and structure.
Page 15
But his was a full share of that dramatic temper which exults in the presage of its own doom.
Page 16
Poe was the truer worshipper of the Beautiful; his love for it was a consecrating passion, and herein he parts company with his illustrator.
Page 17
"'T is some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-- Only this, and nothing more.
Page 18
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore,-- Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" .
Page 20
bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore! Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
Page 21
" [Illustration] "Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Page 22
" [Illustration] "'Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!'" [Illustration] "And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore!" [Illustration] [Illustration].