The City in the Sea

Edgar Allan Poe - 1809-1849
     Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
     In a strange city lying alone
     Far down within the dim West,
     Wherethe 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 scultured 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 thrown 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.

More by Edgar Allan Poe

Lenore

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."

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 
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?

El Dorado

   Gaily bedight,
   A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
   Had journeyed long,
   Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

   But he grew old,
   This knight so bold,
And o'er his heart a shadow
   Fell as he found
   No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

   And, as his strength
   Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow;
   "Shadow," said he,
   "Where can it be,
This land of Eldorado?"

   "Over the mountains
   Of the moon,
Down the valley of the shadow,
   Ride, boldly ride,"
   The shade replied,--
"If you seek for Eldorado!"