A Classic Crime Collection

A Classic Crime Collection by Edgar Allan Poe

Book: A Classic Crime Collection by Edgar Allan Poe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Edgar Allan Poe
exact character of the studies, or of the occupations, in which he involved me, or led me the way. Anexcited and highly distempered ideality 6 threw a sulphureous lustre over all. His long improvised dirges will ring forever in my ears. Among other things, I hold painfully in mind a certain singular perversion and amplification of the wild air of thelast waltz of Von Weber. 7 From the paintings over which his elaborate fancy brooded, and which grew, touch by touch, into vaguenesses at which I shuddered the more thrillingly, because I shuddered knowing not why—from these paintings (vivid as their images now are before me) I would in vain endeavor to educe more than a small portion which should lie within the compass of merely written words. By the utter simplicity, by the nakedness of his designs, he arrested and overawed attention. If ever mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher. For me at least, in the circumstances then surrounding me, there arose out of the pure abstractions which the hypochondriac contrived to throw upon his canvas, an intensity of intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yettoo concrete reveries of Fuseli. 8
    One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be shadowed forth, although feebly, in words. A small picture presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without interruption or device. Certain accessory points of the design served well to convey the idea that this excavation lay at an exceeding depth below the surface of the earth. No outlet was observed in any portion of its vast extent, and no torch or other artificial source of light was discernible; yet a flood of intense rays rolled throughout, and bathed the whole in a ghastly and inappropriate splendor.
    I have just spoken of that morbid condition of the auditory nerve which rendered all music intolerable to the sufferer, with the exception of certain effects of stringed instruments. It was, perhaps, the narrow limits to which he thus confined himself upon the guitar which gave birth, in great measure, to the fantastic character of his performances. But the fervid
facility
of his
impromptus
could not be so accounted for. They must have been, and were, in the notes, as well as in the words of his wild fantasies (for he not unfrequently accompanied himself with rhymed verbal improvisations), the result of that intense mental collectedness and concentration to which I have previously alluded as observable only in particular moments of the highest artificial excitement. The words of one of these rhapsodies I have easily remembered. I was, perhaps, the more forcibly impressed with it as he gave it, because, in the under or mystic current of its meaning, I fancied that I perceived, and for the first time, a full consciousness on the part of Usher of the tottering of his lofty reason upon her throne. The verses, which were entitled “The Haunted Palace,” ran very nearly, if not accurately, thus:—
    I.
    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 9
    Over fabric half so fair.
    II.
    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 odor went away.
    III.
    Wanderers in that happy valley
    Through two luminous windows saw
    Spirits moving musically
    To a lute’s well-timed law;
    Round about a throne, where sitting
    (Porphyrogene!) 10
    In state his glory well befitting,
    The ruler of the realm was seen.
    IV.
    And all with pearl and ruby glowing
    Was the fair palace door,
    Through which came flowing, flowing,

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