Sunday, April 27, 2008

Poetry: Take Three

The City in the Sea
by Edgar Allan Poe

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the 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 he.

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 sculptured 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 thrust 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.

Poe is pretty much my favorite early American writer. I love his stories, and I love his poems. Part of it is the dark, gothic style. Part of it is something I can't explain. But I chose this poem, mostly because of all of them, it paints such a vivid picture. The imagery amazes me. And with something this long, the meanings/interpretations are many. Every time I read it, I feel like I'm peeling back a new layer, revealing a way to look at it that I never knew before. Hope you enjoyed it too!


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Poetry on a Monday? Are you going to join the Poetry Train, perhaps??? (Susan asks hopefully)

Link at my place... C'mon on!

Kathleen Oxley said...

Excellent choice! I too am a fan of Poe.

I'm intrigued by this Poetry Train...*goes to check it out*