Globalization Poverty Development Sustainability
It seems to me that imagination and reasoning have reached magnificent heights with some writers, especially poets. Among them, I strongly believe, the highest ever was Edgar Allan Poe. With Baudelaire I state that "le poete est souverainement intelligent, qu'il est l'intelligence par excellence, -et que l'imagination est la plus scientifique des facultes, parce que seule elle comprend l'analogie universelle...". One of those poets was Edgar Allan Poe. I reproduce here "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe" as a gesture against what Baudelaire called "la ferocite de l'hypocrisie bourgeoise", and what I personally call mediocrity, imbecility, and comprehensive intellectual dishonesty, all of which is presented as "realistic thinking". And, as we know, contemporary development studies are full of  "realistic thinking". So, let us learn something from Edgar Allan Poe!.  (Róbinson Rojas)
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe V. 1
Volume 1 of the Raven Edition  #6 in our series by Edgar Allan Poe

VOLUME II  Contents
The Purloined Letter
The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherezade
A Descent into the Maelström
Von Kempelen and his Discovery
Mesmeric Revelation
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
The Black Cat
The Fall of the House of Usher
Silence -- a Fable
The Masque of the Red Death
The Cask of Amontillado
The Imp of the Perverse
The Island of the Fay
The Assignation
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Premature Burial
The Domain of Arnheim
Landor's Cottage
William Wilson
The Tell-Tale Heart
Eleonora                                       BACK TO MAIN INDEX
Nullus enim locus sine genio est. -- _Servius_.
"LA MUSIQUE," says Marmontel, in those "Contes Moraux" {*1} which in
all our translations, we have insisted upon calling "Moral Tales," as
if in mockery of their spirit -- "la musique est le seul des talents
qui jouissent de lui-meme; tous les autres veulent des temoins." He
here confounds the pleasure derivable from sweet sounds with the
capacity for creating them. No more than any other talent, is that
for music susceptible of complete enjoyment, where there is no second
party to appreciate its exercise. And it is only in common with other
talents that it produces effects which may be fully enjoyed in
solitude. The idea which the raconteur has either failed to entertain
clearly, or has sacrificed in its expression to his national love of
point, is, doubtless, the very tenable one that the higher order of
music is the most thoroughly estimated when we are exclusively alone.
The proposition, in this form, will be admitted at once by those who
love the lyre for its own sake, and for its spiritual uses. But there
is one pleasure still within the reach of fallen mortality and
perhaps only one -- which owes even more than does music to the
accessory sentiment of seclusion. I mean the happiness experienced in
the contemplation of natural scenery. In truth, the man who would
behold aright the glory of God upon earth must in solitude behold
that glory. To me, at least, the presence -- not of human life only,
but of life in any other form than that of the green things which
grow upon the soil and are voiceless -- is a stain upon the landscape
-- is at war with the genius of the scene. I love, indeed, to regard
the dark valleys, and the gray rocks, and the waters that silently
smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, and the proud
watchful mountains that look down upon all, -- I love to regard these
as themselves but the colossal members of one vast animate and
sentient whole -- a whole whose form (that of the sphere) is the most
perfect and most inclusive of all; whose path is among associate
planets; whose meek handmaiden is the moon, whose mediate sovereign
is the sun; whose life is eternity, whose thought is that of a God;
whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies are lost in immensity,
whose cognizance of ourselves is akin with our own cognizance of the
animalculae which infest the brain -- a being which we, in
consequence, regard as purely inanimate and material much in the same
manner as these animalculae must thus regard us.
Our telescopes and our mathematical investigations assure us on every
hand -- notwithstanding the cant of the more ignorant of the
priesthood -- that space, and therefore that bulk, is an important
consideration in the eyes of the Almighty. The cycles in which the
stars move are those best adapted for the evolution, without
collision, of the greatest possible number of bodies. The forms of
those bodies are accurately such as, within a given surface, to
include the greatest possible amount of matter; -- while the surfaces
themselves are so disposed as to accommodate a denser population than
could be accommodated on the same surfaces otherwise arranged. Nor is
it any argument against bulk being an object with God, that space
itself is infinite; for there may be an infinity of matter to fill
it. And since we see clearly that the endowment of matter with
vitality is a principle -- indeed, as far as our judgments extend,
the leading principle in the operations of Deity, -- it is scarcely
logical to imagine it confined to the regions of the minute, where we
daily trace it, and not extending to those of the august. As we find
cycle within cycle without end, -- yet all revolving around one
far-distant centre which is the God-head, may we not analogically
suppose in the same manner, life within life, the less within the
greater, and all within the Spirit Divine? In short, we are madly
erring, through self-esteem, in believing man, in either his temporal
or future destinies, to be of more moment in the universe than that
vast "clod of the valley" which he tills and contemns, and to which
he denies a soul for no more profound reason than that he does not
behold it in operation. {*2}
These fancies, and such as these, have always given to my meditations
among the mountains and the forests, by the rivers and the ocean, a
tinge of what the everyday world would not fail to term fantastic. My
wanderings amid such scenes have been many, and far-searching, and
often solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through
many a dim, deep valley, or gazed into the reflected Heaven of many a
bright lake, has been an interest greatly deepened by the thought
that I have strayed and gazed alone. What flippant Frenchman was it
who said in allusion to the well-known work of Zimmerman, that, "la
solitude est une belle chose; mais il faut quelqu'un pour vous dire
que la solitude est une belle chose?" The epigram cannot be
gainsayed; but the necessity is a thing that does not exist.
It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far distant region
of mountain locked within mountain, and sad rivers and melancholy
tarn writhing or sleeping within all -- that I chanced upon a certain
rivulet and island. I came upon them suddenly in the leafy June, and
threw myself upon the turf, beneath the branches of an unknown
odorous shrub, that I might doze as I contemplated the scene. I felt
that thus only should I look upon it -- such was the character of
phantasm which it wore.
On all sides -- save to the west, where the sun was about sinking --
arose the verdant walls of the forest. The little river which turned
sharply in its course, and was thus immediately lost to sight, seemed
to have no exit from its prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green
foliage of the trees to the east -- while in the opposite quarter (so
it appeared to me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there poured
down noiselessly and continuously into the valley, a rich golden and
crimson waterfall from the sunset fountains of the sky.
About midway in the short vista which my dreamy vision took in, one
small circular island, profusely verdured, reposed upon the bosom of
the stream.
So blended bank and shadow there
That each seemed pendulous in air -- so mirror-like was the glassy
water, that it was scarcely possible to say at what point upon the
slope of the emerald turf its crystal dominion began.
My position enabled me to include in a single view both the eastern
and western extremities of the islet; and I observed a
singularly-marked difference in their aspects. The latter was all one
radiant harem of garden beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the
eyes of the slant sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers. The
grass was short, springy, sweet-scented, and Asphodel-interspersed.
The trees were lithe, mirthful, erect -- bright, slender, and
graceful, -- of eastern figure and foliage, with bark smooth, glossy,
and parti-colored. There seemed a deep sense of life and joy about
all; and although no airs blew from out the heavens, yet every thing
had motion through the gentle sweepings to and fro of innumerable
butterflies, that might have been mistaken for tulips with wings.
The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the blackest
shade. A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful gloom here pervaded all
things. The trees were dark in color, and mournful in form and
attitude, wreathing themselves into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes
that conveyed ideas of mortal sorrow and untimely death. The grass
wore the deep tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung
droopingly, and hither and thither among it were many small unsightly
hillocks, low and narrow, and not very long, that had the aspect of
graves, but were not; although over and all about them the rue and
the rosemary clambered. The shade of the trees fell heavily upon the
water, and seemed to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of
the element with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the sun
descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk
that gave it birth, and thus became absorbed by the stream; while
other shadows issued momently from the trees, taking the place of
their predecessors thus entombed.
This idea, having once seized upon my fancy, greatly excited it, and
I lost myself forthwith in revery. "If ever island were enchanted,"
said I to myself, "this is it. This is the haunt of the few gentle
Fays who remain from the wreck of the race. Are these green tombs
theirs? -- or do they yield up their sweet lives as mankind yield up
their own? In dying, do they not rather waste away mournfully,
rendering unto God, little by little, their existence, as these trees
render up shadow after shadow, exhausting their substance unto
dissolution? What the wasting tree is to the water that imbibes its
shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys upon, may not the life
of the Fay be to the death which engulfs it?"
As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank rapidly to
rest, and eddying currents careered round and round the island,
bearing upon their bosom large, dazzling, white flakes of the bark of
the sycamore-flakes which, in their multiform positions upon the
water, a quick imagination might have converted into any thing it
pleased, while I thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one
of those very Fays about whom I had been pondering made its way
slowly into the darkness from out the light at the western end of the
island. She stood erect in a singularly fragile canoe, and urged it
with the mere phantom of an oar. While within the influence of the
lingering sunbeams, her attitude seemed indicative of joy -- but
sorrow deformed it as she passed within the shade. Slowly she glided
along, and at length rounded the islet and re-entered the region of
light. "The revolution which has just been made by the Fay,"
continued I, musingly, "is the cycle of the brief year of her life.
She has floated through her winter and through her summer. She is a
year nearer unto Death; for I did not fail to see that, as she came
into the shade, her shadow fell from her, and was swallowed up in the
dark water, making its blackness more black."
And again the boat appeared and the Fay, but about the attitude of
the latter there was more of care and uncertainty and less of elastic
joy. She floated again from out the light and into the gloom (which
deepened momently) and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony
water, and became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again
she made the circuit of the island, (while the sun rushed down to his
slumbers), and at each issuing into the light there was more sorrow
about her person, while it grew feebler and far fainter and more
indistinct, and at each passage into the gloom there fell from her a
darker shade, which became whelmed in a shadow more black. But at
length when the sun had utterly departed, the Fay, now the mere ghost
of her former self, went disconsolately with her boat into the region
of the ebony flood, and that she issued thence at all I cannot say,
for darkness fell over an things and I beheld her magical figure no
~~~ End of Text ~~~
Notes--Island of the Fay
{*1} Moraux is here derived from moeurs, and its meaning is
"fashionable" or more strictly "of manners."
{*2} Speaking of the tides, Pomponius Mela, in his treatise "De Situ
Orbis," says "either the world is a great animal, or" etc
{*3} Balzac--in substance--I do not remember the words
{*4} Florem putares nare per liquidum aethera. -- P. Commire.