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The poems of Edgar Allan Poe
By W. Heath Robinson
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping—rapping at my chamber door. "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—Only this and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore— For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating "'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door— Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—This it is and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping—tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"—here I opened wide the door:—Darkness there and nothing more.
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.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon I heard again a tapping, somewhat louder than before. "Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore— Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore;—'Tis the wind and nothing more."
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door— Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—Perched, and sat, and nothing more
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!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore; For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door— Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore."
But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. Nothing further then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered— Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before— On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before." Then the bird said, "Nevermore."
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore— Till the dirges of his Hope the melancholy burden bore Of 'Never—nevermore.'"
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."
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er, She~ shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, me thought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor. "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore! Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"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."
Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore— Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore— Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore." Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend! "I shrieked, upstarting— "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted—nevermore!
HEAR the sledges with the bells— Silver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells! How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! While the stars, that oversprinkle All the heavens, seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
Hear the mellow wedding bells, Golden bells! What a world of happiness their harmony foretells! Through the balmy air of night How they ring out their delight! From the molten-golden notes, And all in tune, What a liquid ditty floats To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats On the moon! Oh, from out the sounding cells, What a gush of euphony voluminously wells How it swells! How it dwells On the future! how it tells Of the rapture that impels To the swinging and the ringing Of the bells, bells, bells, Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!
Hear the loud alarum bells— Brazen bells! What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells! In the startled ear of night How they scream out their affright! Too much horrified to speak, They can only shriek, shriek, Out of tune, In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire, In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire, Leaping higher, higher, higher, With a desperate desire, And a resolute endeavour Now—now to sit or never, By the side of the pale-faced moon. Oh, the bells, bells, bells! What a tale their terror tells Of Despair! How they clang, and crash, and roar! What a horror they outpour On the bosom of the palpitating air! Yet the ear it fully knows, By the twanging, And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows; Yet the ear distinctly tells, In the jangling, And the wrangling, How the danger sinks and swells, By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells— Of the bells— Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— In the clamour and the clangour of the bells!
Hear the tolling of the bells— Iron bells! What a world of solemn thought their monody compels! In the silence of the night, How we shiver with affright At the melancholy menace of their tone! For every sound that floats From the rust within their throats Is a groan. And the people—ah, the people— They that dwell up in the steeple, All alone, And who tolling, tolling, tolling, In that muffled monotone, Feel a glory in so rolling On the human heart a stone— They are neither man nor woman— They are neither brute nor human— They are Ghouls: And their king it is who tolls; And he rolls, rolls, rolls, Rolls A pæan from the bells! And his merry bosom swells With the pæan of the bells! And he dances, and he yells; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the pæan of the bells— Of the bells: Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the throbbing of the bells— Of the bells, bells, bells— To the sobbing of the bells; Keeping time, time, time, As he knells, knells, knells, In a happy Runic rhyme, To the rolling of the bells— Of the bells, bells, bells— To the tolling of the bells, Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.
THE skies they were ashen and sober; The leaves they were crispéd and sere— The leaves they were withering and sere; It was night in the lonesome October Of my most immemorial year; It was hard by the dim lake of Auber, In the misty mid region of Weir— It was down by the dank tarn of Auber, In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.
Here once, through an alley Titanic, Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul— Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul. These were days when my heart was volcanic As the scoriae rivers that roll— As the lavas that restlessly roll Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek In the ultimate climes of the pole— That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek In the realms of the boreal pole.
Our talk had been serious and sober, But our thoughts they were palsied and sere— Our memories were treacherous and sere— For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year— (Ah, night of all nights in the year!) We noted not the dim lake of Auber— (Though once we had journeyed down here)— Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber, Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.
And now, as the night was senescent And star-dials pointed to morn— As the sun-dials hinted of morn—
At the end of our path a liquescent And nebulous lustre was born, Out of which a miraculous crescent Arose with a duplicate horn— Astarte's bediamonded crescent Distinct with its duplicate horn.
And I said—"She is warmer than Dian: She rolls through an ether of sighs— She revels in a region of sighs: She has seen that the tears are not dry on These cheeks, where the worm never dies, And has come past the stars of the Lion To point us the path to the skies— To the Lethean peace of the skies— Come up, in despite of the Lion, To shine on us with her bright eyes— Come up through the lair of the Lion, With love in her luminous eyes." But Psyche, uplifting her finger, Said—"Sadly this star I mistrust— Her pallor I strangely mistrust:— Oh, hasten!—oh, let us not linger! Oh, fly!—let us fly!—for we must." In terror she spoke, letting sink her Wings till they trailed in the dust—
In agony sobbed, letting sink her Plumes till they trailed in the dust— Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust. I replied—"This is nothing but dreaming: Let us on by this tremulous light! Let us bathe in this crystalline light! Its Srbyllic splendour is beaming With Hope and in Beauty to-night:— See!—it flickers up the sky through the night! Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming, And be sure it will lead us aright— We safely may trust to a gleaming That cannot but guide us aright, Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."
Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her, And tempted her out of her gloom— And conquered her scruples and gloom; And we passed to the end of a vista, But were stopped by the door of a tomb— By the door of a legended tomb; And I said—"What is written, sweet sister, On the door of this legended tomb?" She replied—"Ulalume—Ulalume— 'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"
Then my heart it grew ashen and sober As the leaves that were crispèd and sere— As the leaves that were withering and sere; And I cried—"It was surely October On this very night of last year That I journeyed—I journeyed down here— That I brought a dread burden down here! On this night of all nights in the year, Ah, what demon has tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber— This misty mid region of Weir—
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,— This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."
THE ring is on my hand, And the wreath is on my brow; Satins and jewels grand Are all at my command, And I am happy now.
And my lord he loves me well; But, when first he breathed his vow, I felt my bosom swell— For the words rang as a knell, And the voice seemed his who fell In the battle down the dell, And who is happy now.
But he spoke to reassure me, And he kissed my pallid brow, While a reverie came o'er me, And to the churchyard bore me, And I sighed to him before me, Thinking him dead D'Elormie, "Oh, I am happy now!"
And thus the words were spoken, And thus the plighted vow, And, though my faith be broken, And, though my heart be broken, Behold the golden token That proves me happy now!
Would to God I could awaken! For I dream I know not how, And my soul is sorely shaken Lest an evil step be taken,— Lest the dead who is forsaken May not be happy now.
AH, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown for ever! Let the bell toll!—a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river. And, Guyde Vere, hast thou no tear?—weep now or never more! See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore! Come! let the burial rite be read—the funeral song be sung!— An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young— A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young.
"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride, And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her—that she died! How shall the ritual, then, be read?—the requiem how be sung By you—by yours, the evil eye,—by yours, the slanderous tongue That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?"
Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong! The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside, Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride— For her, the fair and débonnaire, that now so lowly lies, The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes— The life still there, upon her hair—the death upon her eyes.
"Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise, But waft the angel on her flight with a pæan of old days! Let no bell toll!—lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth, Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damnèd Earth. To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven— From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven— From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven."
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