Edgar Allan Poe Poetry Follow story

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Some of Edgar Allan Poe's poetry


Poetry All public. © Edgar Allan Poe

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Some poems

THE RAVEN
 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 visiter,” 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 visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door—
 Some late visiter 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 the placid bust, spoke only
 That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
 Nothing farther 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 that 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 lamplght 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 Angels whose faint 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!

THE BELLS.

                                       I.

                    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.

                                      II.

                    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!

                                      III.

                    Hear the loud alarum bells—
                          Brazen bells!
     What 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 endeavor
                    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 clash, 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!

                                   IV.

                    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 meaning 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,
                          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.

1849.

ULALUME

     The skies they were ashen and sober;
         The leaves they were crisped 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.
     There were days when my heart was volcanic
         As the scoriac 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)
     We 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 star-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—
     Ah, hasten!—ah, let us not linger!
         Ah, 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 Sybillic splendor 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 the 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—
         ‘T is the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”
 
     Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
         As the leaves that were crisped 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.”
 

1847.

TO HELEN

     I saw thee once—once only—years ago:
     I must not say how many—but not many.
     It was a July midnight; and from out
     A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
     Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
     There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
     With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber,
     Upon the upturned faces of a thousand
     Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
     Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe—
     Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
     That gave out, in return for the love-light,
     Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death—
     Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
     That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted
     By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.

     Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
     I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
     Fell on the upturn’d faces of the roses,
     And on thine own, upturn’d—alas, in sorrow!

     Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight-
     Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow,)
     That bade me pause before that garden-gate,
     To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
     No footstep stirred: the hated world an slept,
     Save only thee and me. (Oh, Heaven!—oh, God!
     How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)
     Save only thee and me. I paused—I looked-
     And in an instant all things disappeared.
     (Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)

     The pearly lustre of the moon went out:
     The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
     The happy flowers and the repining trees,
     Were seen no more: the very roses’ odors
     Died in the arms of the adoring airs.
     All—all expired save thee—save less than thou:
     Save only the divine light in thine eyes-
     Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.
     I saw but them—they were the world to me!
     I saw but them—saw only them for hours,
     Saw only them until the moon went down.
     What wild heart-histories seemed to he enwritten

     Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!
     How dark a woe, yet how sublime a hope!
     How silently serene a sea of pride!
     How daring an ambition; yet how deep-
     How fathomless a capacity for love!

     But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
     Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;
     And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees
     Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained;
     They would not go—they never yet have gone;
     Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
     They have not left me (as my hopes have) since;
     They follow me—they lead me through the years.
     They are my ministers—yet I their slave.
     Their office is to illumine and enkindle—
     My duty, to be saved by their bright light,
     And purified in their electric fire,
     And sanctified in their elysian fire.
     They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),
     And are far up in Heaven—the stars I kneel to
     In the sad, silent watches of my night;
     While even in the meridian glare of day
     I see them still—two sweetly scintillant
     Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!

ANNABEL LEE.

     It was many and many a year ago,
         In a kingdom by the sea,
     That a maiden lived whom you may know
         By the name of ANNABEL LEE;—
     And this maiden she lived with no other thought
         Than to love and be loved by me.

     I was a child and She was a child,
         In this kingdom by the sea,
     But we loved with a love that was more than love—
         I and my ANNABEL LEE—
     With a love that the wingéd seraphs of Heaven
         Coveted her and me.

     And this was the reason that, long ago,
         In this kingdom by the sea,
     A wind blew out of a cloud by night
         Chilling my ANNABEL LEE;
     So that her high-born kinsmen came
         And bore her away from me,
     To shut her up, in a sepulchre
         In this kingdom by the sea.

     The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
         Went envying her and me;
     Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
         In this kingdom by the sea)
     That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling
         And killing my ANNABEL LEE.

     But our love it was stronger by far than the love
         Of those who were older than we—
         Of many far wiser than we—
     And neither the angels in Heaven above
         Nor the demons down under the sea
     Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
         Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE:—

     For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
         Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
     And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
         Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
     And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
     Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride
         In her sepulchre there by the sea—
         In her tomb by the side of the sea.

1849.

A VALENTINE.

     For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
         Brightly expressive as the twins of Loeda,
     Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
         Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
     Search narrowly the lines!—they hold a treasure
         Divine—a talisman—an amulet
     That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure—
         The words—the syllables! Do not forget
     The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
         And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

     Which one might not undo without a sabre,
         If one could merely comprehend the plot.
     Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
         Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
     Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
         Of poets, by poets—as the name is a poet’s, too.
     Its letters, although naturally lying
         Like the knight Pinto—Mendez Ferdinando—
     Still form a synonym for Truth—Cease trying!
         You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

1846.

[To discover the names in this and the following poem read the first letter of the first line in connection with the second letter of the second line, the third letter of the third line, the fourth of the fourth and so on to the end.]

AN ENIGMA

     “Seldom we find,” says Solomon Don Dunce,
         “Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.
     Through all the flimsy things we see at once
         As easily as through a Naples bonnet—
         Trash of all trash!—how can a lady don it?
     Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff-
     Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff
         Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.”
      And, veritably, Sol is right enough.
     The general tuckermanities are arrant
     Bubbles—ephemeral and so transparent—
         But this is, now,—you may depend upon it—
     Stable, opaque, immortal—all by dint
     Of the dear names that lie concealed within ‘t.

1847. TO MY MOTHER

     Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
         The angels, whispering to one another,
     Can find, among their burning terms of love,
         None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
      Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—
         You who are more than mother unto me,
     And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
         In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.
     My mother—my own mother, who died early,
         Was but the mother of myself; but you
     Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
         And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
     By that infinity with which my wife
         Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

1849.

[The above was addressed to the poet’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm—Ed.]

FOR ANNIE

     Thank Heaven! the crisis—
         The danger is past,
     And the lingering illness
         Is over at last—
     And the fever called “Living”
          Is conquered at last.

     Sadly, I know
         I am shorn of my strength,
     And no muscle I move
         As I lie at full length—
     But no matter!—I feel
         I am better at length.

     And I rest so composedly,
         Now, in my bed,
     That any beholder
         Might fancy me dead—
     Might start at beholding me,
         Thinking me dead.

     The moaning and groaning,
         The sighing and sobbing,
     Are quieted now,
         With that horrible throbbing
     At heart:—ah, that horrible,
         Horrible throbbing!

     The sickness—the nausea—
         The pitiless pain—
     Have ceased, with the fever
         That maddened my brain—
     With the fever called “Living”
          That burned in my brain.

     And oh! of all tortures
         That torture the worst
     Has abated—the terrible
         Torture of thirst
     For the naphthaline river
         Of Passion accurst:—
     I have drank of a water
         That quenches all thirst:—

     Of a water that flows,
         With a lullaby sound,
     From a spring but a very few
         Feet under ground—
     From a cavern not very far
         Down under ground.

     And ah! let it never
         Be foolishly said
     That my room it is gloomy
         And narrow my bed;
     For man never slept
         In a different bed—
     And, to sleep, you must slumber
         In just such a bed.

     My tantalized spirit
         Here blandly reposes,
     Forgetting, or never
         Regretting its roses—
     Its old agitations
         Of myrtles and roses:

     For now, while so quietly
         Lying, it fancies
     A holier odor
         About it, of pansies—
     A rosemary odor,
         Commingled with pansies—
     With rue and the beautiful
         Puritan pansies.

     And so it lies happily,
         Bathing in many
     A dream of the truth
         And the beauty of Annie—
     Drowned in a bath
         Of the tresses of Annie.

     She tenderly kissed me,
         She fondly caressed,
     And then I fell gently
         To sleep on her breast—
     Deeply to sleep
         From the heaven of her breast.

     When the light was extinguished,
         She covered me warm,
     And she prayed to the angels
         To keep me from harm—
     To the queen of the angels
         To shield me from harm.

     And I lie so composedly,
         Now in my bed,
     (Knowing her love)
         That you fancy me dead—
     And I rest so contentedly,
         Now in my bed,
     (With her love at my breast)
         That you fancy me dead—
     That you shudder to look at me,
         Thinking me dead:—

     But my heart it is brighter
         Than all of the many
     Stars in the sky,
         For it sparkles with Annie—
     It glows with the light
         Of the love of my Annie—
     With the thought of the light
         Of the eyes of my Annie.
Jan. 17, 2017, 3:18 p.m. 0 Report Embed 5
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