Poems by Edgar Alan Poe

A Dream within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow
And in parting from you now
Thus much let me avow ---
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away.
In a night or in a day
In a vision or in none
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand ---
How few! Yet how they creep
Throngh my fingers to the deep
While I weep --- while I weep!
O God! Can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream.

The Conqueror Worm

Lo! 't is a gala night

Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng bewinged bedight

In veils and drowned in tears
Sit in a theatre to see

A play of hopes and fears
While the orchestra breathes fitfully

The music of the spheres.
Mimes in the form of God on high

Mutter and mumble low
And hither and thither fly -

Mere puppets they who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things

That shift the scenery to and fro
Flapping from out their Condor wings

Invisible Woe!
That motley drama! - oh be sure

It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore

By a crowd that seize it not
Through a circle that ever returneth in

To the self-same spot
And much of Madness and more of Sin

And Horror the soul of the plot.
But see amid the mimic rout

A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out

The scenic solitude!
It writhes! - it writhes! - with mortal pangs

The mimes become its food
And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs

In human gore imbued.
Out - out are the lights - out all!

And over each quivering form
The curtain a funeral pall

Comes down with the rush of a storm
And the angels all pallid and wan

Uprising unveiling affirm
That the play is the tragedy "Man"

And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

The One in Paradise

THOU wast that all to me love
For which my soul did pine --
A green isle in the sea love
A fountain and a shrine
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers
And all the flowers were mine.

Ah dream too bright to last!
Ah starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries
"On! on!" -- but o'er the Past
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute motionless aghast!

For alas! alas! with me
The light of Life is o'er!
No more -- no more -- no more --
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree
Or the stricken eagle soar!

And all my days are trances
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy grey eye glances
And where thy footstep gleams --
In what ethereal dances
By what eternal streams.

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago
In a kingdom by the sea
That a maiden there 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 winged 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 chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman 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 by night
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 feel 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 the sepulchre there by the sea
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

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. 
"'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door; 5 
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, 10 
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 15 
"'T is 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; 20 
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, 25 
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; 
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness 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. 30 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, 
Soon again I heard 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: 35 
'T is 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 a minute stopped or stayed he; 
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door, 40 
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, 45 
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; 50 
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 55 
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." 60 

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 65 
Of 'Never!nevermore.' 

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy 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, 70 
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 75 
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er, 
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light 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. 80 
"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! 85 
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." 90 

"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!" 95 
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! 100 
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, 105 
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! 

To Helen

Helen thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently o'er a perfumed sea
The weary wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam
Thy hyacinth hair thy classic face
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy Land!

Sonnet -- To Science

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart
Vulture whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood
The Elfin from the green grass and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?


In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
"Whose heart-strings are a lute";
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel
And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
Ceasing their hymns attend the spell
Of his voice all mute.

Tottering above
In her highest noon
The enamored moon
Blushes with love
While to listen the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads even
Which were seven )
Pauses in Heaven.

And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli's fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings-
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.

But the skies that angel trod
Where deep thoughts are a duty-
Where Love's a grown-up God-
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.

Therefore thou art not wrong
Israfeli who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong
Best bard because the wisest!
Merrily live and long!

The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit-
Thy grief thy joy thy hate thy love
With the fervor of thy lute-
Well may the stars be mute!

Yes Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely- flowers
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.

If I could dwell
Where Israfel
Hath dwelt and he where I
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.

The City In the Sea

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around by lifting winds forgot
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol the violet and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside
In slightly sinking the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when amid no earthly moans
Down down that town shall settle hence
Hell rising from a thousand thrones
Shall do it reverence.