The Village Street

Edgar Allan Poe - 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


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!"