The Village Street

- 1809-1849
     In these rapid, restless shadows,
         Once I walked at eventide,
     When a gentle, silent maiden,
         Walked in beauty at my side
     She alone there walked beside me
         All in beauty, like a bride.

     Pallidly the moon was shining
         On the dewy meadows nigh;
     On the silvery, silent rivers,
         On the mountains far and high
     On the ocean’s star-lit waters,
         Where the winds a-weary die.

     Slowly, silently we wandered
     From the open cottage door,
     Underneath the elm’s long branches
     To the pavement bending o’er;
     Underneath the mossy willow
     And the dying sycamore.

     With the myriad stars in beauty
     All bedight, the heavens were seen,
     Radiant hopes were bright around me,
     Like the light of stars serene;
     Like the mellow midnight splendor
     Of the Night’s irradiate queen.

     Audibly the elm-leaves whispered
         Peaceful, pleasant melodies,
     Like the distant murmured music
         Of unquiet, lovely seas:
     While the winds were hushed in slumber
         In the fragrant flowers and trees.

     Wondrous and unwonted beauty
         Still adorning all did seem,
     While I told my love in fables
         ‘Neath the willows by the stream;
     Would the heart have kept unspoken
         Love that was its rarest dream!

     Instantly away we wandered
         In the shadowy twilight tide,
     She, the silent, scornful maiden,
         Walking calmly at my side,
     With a step serene and stately,
         All in beauty, all in pride.

     Vacantly I walked beside her.
         On the earth mine eyes were cast;
     Swift and keen there came unto me
         Ritter memories of the past
     On me, like the rain in Autumn
         On the dead leaves, cold and fast.

     Underneath the elms we parted,
         By the lowly cottage door;
     One brief word alone was uttered
         Never on our lips before;
     And away I walked forlornly,
         Broken-hearted evermore.

     Slowly, silently I loitered,
         Homeward, in the night, alone;
     Sudden anguish bound my spirit,
         That my youth had never known;
     Wild unrest, like that which cometh
         When the Night’s first dream hath flown.

     Now, to me the elm-leaves whisper
         Mad, discordant melodies,
     And keen melodies like shadows
         Haunt the moaning willow trees,
     And the sycamores with laughter
         Mock me in the nightly breeze.

     Sad and pale the Autumn moonlight
         Through the sighing foliage streams;
     And each morning, midnight shadow,
         Shadow of my sorrow seems;
     Strive, 0 heart, forget thine idol!
         And, 0 soul, forget thy dreams!

More by Edgar Allan Poe

To Helen

Helen, thy beauty is to me
    Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
    The weary, way-worn 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!

Ulalume

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
Our memories were treacherous and sere,—
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)—
We noted not the dim lake of Auber
(Though once we had journeyed down here)—
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent
And star-dials pointed to morn—
As the star-dials hinted of morn—
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn—
Astarte's bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said: "She is warmer than Dian;
She rolls through an ether of sighs—
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
To point us the path to the skies—
To the Lethean peace of the skies—
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes—
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes."

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said: "Sadly this star I mistrust—
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Ah, hasten! —ah, let us not linger!
Ah, fly! —let us fly! -for we must."
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings until they trailed in the dust—
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust—
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied: "This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic splendour is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty tonight!—
See!—it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright—
We safely may trust to a gleaming,
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom—
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the door of a tomb—
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said: "What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?"
She replied: "Ulalume -Ulalume—
'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere—
As the leaves that were withering and sere;
And I cried: "It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed—I journeyed down here!—
That I brought a dread burden down here—
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon hath tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber—
This misty mid region of Weir—
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."

To My Mother

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.