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 Through my fingers to the deep, While I weep--while I weep! O God! can I not grasp Them with a tighter clasp? 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 Art of POE-try
This poem is in the public domain.
Ah broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever! Let the bell toll!--a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river; And, Guy De 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 innocent 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 so 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 debonair, 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 damnéd 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."
From The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, vol. II, 1850. For other versions, please visit The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore site: http://www.eapoe.org/works/poems/index.htm#L.
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 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. 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;— '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 a minute 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 blest 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 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 that melancholy burden bore Of 'Never—nevermore.'" But the Raven still beguiling my sad 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— 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, methought, 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 in 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!
This version appeared in the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, September 25, 1849. For other versions, please visit the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore's site: http://www.eapoe.org/works/poems/index.htm#R.
Thy soul shall find itself alone 'Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone; Not one, of all the crowd, to pry Into thine hour of secrecy. Be silent in that solitude, Which is not loneliness — for then The spirits of the dead, who stood In life before thee, are again In death around thee, and their will Shall overshadow thee; be still. The night, though clear, shall frown, And the stars shall not look down From their high thrones in the Heaven With light like hope to mortals given, But their red orbs, without beam, To thy weariness shall seem As a burning and a fever Which would cling to thee for ever. Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish, Now are visions ne'er to vanish; From thy spirit shall they pass No more, like dew-drop from the grass. The breeze, the breath of God, is still, And the mist upon the hill Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken, Is a symbol and a token. How it hangs upon the trees, A mystery of mysteries!
This poem is in the public domain.
Once it smiled a silent dell Where the people did not dwell; They had gone unto the wars, Trusting to the mild-eyed stars, Nightly, from their azure towers, To keep watch above the flowers, In the midst of which all day The red sun-light lazily lay. Now each visitor shall confess The sad valley's restlessness. Nothing there is motionless — Nothing save the airs that brood Over the magic solitude. Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees That palpitate like the chill seas Around the misty Hebrides! Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven That rustle through the unquiet Heaven Uneasily, from morn till even, Over the violets there that lie In myriad types of the human eye — Over three lilies there that wave And weep above a nameless grave! They wave: — from out their fragrant tops Eternal dews come down in drops. They weep: — from off their delicate stems Perennial tears descend in gems.
This poem is in the public domain.
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.
This poem is in the public domain.