Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The City in the Sea

     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.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. 

About this Poem


From The Works of Edgar Allan Poe in Five Volumes: The Raven Edition (P.F. Collier, 1902)

 

Author


Edgar Allan Poe

Born in 1809, Edgar Allan Poe had a profound impact on American and international literature as an editor, poet, and critic.

Date Published: 2018-07-25

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/city-sea