The Eerie Vision of Edgar Allen Poe / THE HAUNTED PALACE

Sheila Samples

I love the magic of Edgar Allen Poe. He has had a great influence on my writing and thinking (alas) throughout my life... "The Tell-Tale Heart" is one of his best -- and "The Bells" drives me to the edge of the abyss.

Most people, when they think of Poe can only come up with "The Raven," and I doubt if they have read it in its entirety. For the past eight years, when I look at George Bush, I see "The Imp of the Perverse," and it would not surprise me at all to see him dashing madly through the crowd, screaming his guilt at the top of his lungs as he crosses that finish line.

But the one piece to which I turn again and again -- usually when I am alone; it is the witching hour, and the high-pitched barks and yelps of coyotes on the creek behind my house sound ominiously close -- is "The Fall of the House of Usher."

Buried within that masterpiece is the greatest poem ever written -- "The Haunted Palace." Anybody with any perception can read that poem and see that Poe is eerily describing what has happened to this once proud and beautiful nation as it has descended into corruption and madness...We are now in the throes of Verse VI. Where do we go from here?

By Edgar Allen Poe

In the greenest of our valleys,
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace--
Radiant palace--reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion--
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow;
(This--all this--was in the olden
Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odour went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley
Through two luminous windows saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute's well-tuned law,
Round about a throne, where sitting
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And, round about his home, the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers now within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows, see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a rapid ghastly river,
Through the pale door,
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh--but smile no more.




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