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
Stay for me there  !   I will not fail.
To meet thee in that hollow vale.
[_Exequy on the death of his wife, by Henry King, Bishop of
   ILL-FATED and mysterious man  !  - bewildered in the brilliancy of
thine own imagination, and fallen in the flames of thine own youth !
Again in fancy I behold thee !  Once more thy form hath risen before
me !  - not - oh not as thou art - in the cold valley and shadow -
but as thou _shouldst be_ - squandering away a life of magnificent
meditation in that city of dim visions, thine own Venice - which is a
star-beloved Elysium of the sea, and the wide windows of whose
Palladian palaces look down with a deep and bitter meaning upon the
secrets of her silent waters.  Yes !  I repeat it - as thou _shouldst
be_.  There are surely other worlds than this - other thoughts than
the thoughts of the multitude - other speculations than the
speculations of the sophist.  Who then shall call thy conduct into
question  ?    who blame thee for thy visionary hours, or denounce
those occupations as a wasting away of life, which were but the
overflowings of thine everlasting energies ?
   It was at Venice, beneath the covered archway there called the
_Ponte di Sospiri_, that I met for the third or fourth time the
person of whom I speak.  It is with a confused recollection that I
bring to mind the circumstances of that meeting.  Yet I remember - ah
!   how should I forget  ?  - the deep midnight, the Bridge of Sighs,
the beauty of woman, and the Genius of Romance that stalked up and
down the narrow canal.
   It was a night of unusual gloom.  The great clock of the Piazza
had sounded the fifth hour of the Italian evening.  The square of the
Campanile lay silent and deserted, and the lights in the old Ducal
Palace were dying fast away.  I was returning home from the Piazetta,
by way of the Grand Canal.  But as my gondola arrived opposite the
mouth of the canal San Marco, a female voice from its recesses broke
suddenly upon the night, in one wild, hysterical, and long continued
shriek.  Startled at the sound, I sprang upon my feet :  while the
gondolier, letting slip his single oar, lost it in the pitchy
darkness beyond a chance of recovery, and we were consequently left
to the guidance of the current which here sets from the greater into
the smaller channel.  Like some huge and sable-feathered condor, we
were slowly drifting down towards the Bridge of Sighs, when a
thousand flambeaux flashing from the windows, and down the staircases
of the Ducal Palace, turned all at once that deep gloom into a livid
and preternatural day.
   A child, slipping from the arms of its own mother, had fallen from
an upper window of the lofty structure into the deep and dim canal.
The quiet waters had closed placidly over their victim ;  and,
although my own gondola was the only one in sight, many a stout
swimmer, already in the stream, was seeking in vain upon the surface,
the treasure which was to be found, alas !  only within the abyss.
Upon the broad black marble flagstones at the entrance of the palace,
and a few steps above the water, stood a figure which none who then
saw can have ever since forgotten. It was the Marchesa Aphrodite -
the adoration of all Venice - the gayest of the gay - the most lovely
where all were beautiful - but still the young wife of the old and
intriguing Mentoni, and the mother of that fair child, her first and
only one, who now, deep beneath the murky water, was thinking in
bitterness of heart upon her sweet caresses, and exhausting its
little life in struggles to call upon her name.
   She stood alone.  Her small, bare, and silvery feet gleamed in the
black mirror of marble beneath her.  Her hair, not as yet more than
half loosened for the night from its ball-room array, clustered, amid
a shower of diamonds, round and round her classical head, in curls
like those of the young hyacinth.  A snowy-white and gauze-like
drapery seemed to be nearly the sole covering to her delicate form ;
but the mid-summer and midnight air was hot, sullen, and still, and
no motion in the statue-like form itself, stirred even the folds of
that raiment of very vapor which hung around it as the heavy marble
hangs around the Niobe.  Yet - strange to say !  - her large lustrous
eyes were not turned downwards upon that grave wherein her brightest
hope lay buried - but riveted in a widely different direction !  The
prison of the Old Republic is, I think, the stateliest building in
all Venice - but how could that lady gaze so fixedly upon it, when
beneath her lay stifling her only child ?  Yon dark, gloomy niche,
too, yawns right opposite her chamber window - what, then, _could_
there be in its shadows - in its architecture - in its ivy-wreathed
and solemn cornices - that the Marchesa di Mentoni had not wondered
at a thousand times before ?  Nonsense ! - Who does not remember
that, at such a time as this, the eye, like a shattered mirror,
multiplies the images of its sorrow, and sees in innumerable far-off
places, the wo which is close at hand ?
   Many steps above the Marchesa, and within the arch of the
water-gate, stood, in full dress, the Satyr-like figure of Mentoni
himself.  He was occasionally occupied in thrumming a guitar, and
seemed _ennuye_ to the very death, as at intervals he gave directions
for the recovery of his child.  Stupified and aghast, I had myself no
power to move from the upright position I had assumed upon first
hearing the shriek, and must have presented to the eyes of the
agitated group a spectral and ominous appearance, as with pale
countenance and rigid limbs, I floated down among them in that
funereal gondola.
   All efforts proved in vain.  Many of the most energetic in the
search were relaxing their exertions, and yielding to a gloomy
sorrow. There seemed but little hope for the child ;  (how much less
than for the mother !  ) but now, from the interior of that dark
niche which has been already mentioned as forming a part of the Old
Republican prison, and as fronting the lattice of the Marchesa, a
figure muffled in a cloak, stepped out within reach of the light,
and, pausing a moment upon the verge of the giddy descent, plunged
headlong into the canal.  As, in an instant afterwards, he stood with
the still living and breathing child within his grasp, upon the
marble flagstones by the side of the Marchesa, his cloak, heavy with
the drenching water, became unfastened, and, falling in folds about
his feet, discovered to the wonder-stricken spectators the graceful
person of a very young man, with the sound of whose name the greater
part of Europe was then ringing.
   No word spoke the deliverer.  But the Marchesa !  She will now
receive her child - she will press it to her heart - she will cling
to its little form, and smother it with her caresses.  Alas !
_another's_ arms have taken it from the stranger - _another's_ arms
have taken it away, and borne it afar off, unnoticed, into the palace
!  And the Marchesa !  Her lip - her beautiful lip trembles :  tears
are gathering in her eyes - those eyes which, like Pliny's acanthus,
are "soft and almost liquid." Yes !  tears are gathering in those
eyes - and see !  the entire woman thrills throughout the soul, and
the statue has started into life !  The pallor of the marble
countenance, the swelling of the marble bosom, the very purity of the
marble feet, we behold suddenly flushed over with a tide of
ungovernable crimson ;  and a slight shudder quivers about her
delicate frame, as a gentle air at Napoli about the rich silver
lilies in the grass.
   Why _should_ that lady blush !  To this demand there is no answer
- except that, having left, in the eager haste and terror of a
mother's heart, the privacy of her own _boudoir_, she has neglected
to enthral her tiny feet in their slippers, and utterly forgotten to
throw over her Venetian shoulders that drapery which is their due.
What other possible reason could there have been for her so blushing
? - for the glance of those wild appealing eyes ?  for the unusual
tumult of that throbbing bosom  ?  - for the convulsive pressure of
that trembling hand ? - that hand which fell, as Mentoni turned into
the palace, accidentally, upon the hand of the stranger.  What reason
could there have been for the low - the singularly low tone of those
unmeaning words which the lady uttered hurriedly in bidding him adieu
?  "Thou hast conquered," she said, or the murmurs of the water
deceived me ;  "thou hast conquered - one hour after sunrise - we
shall meet - so let it be !"
*     *      *     *     *      *     *
   The tumult had subsided, the lights had died away within the
palace, and the stranger, whom I now recognized, stood alone upon the
flags.  He shook with inconceivable agitation, and his eye glanced
around in search of a gondola.  I could not do less than offer him
the service of my own ;  and he accepted the civility. Having
obtained an oar at the water-gate, we proceeded together to his
residence, while he rapidly recovered his self-possession, and spoke
of our former slight acquaintance in terms of great apparent
   There are some subjects upon which I take pleasure in being
minute.  The person of the stranger - let me call him by this title,
who to all the world was still a stranger - the person of the
stranger is one of these subjects.  In height he might have been
below rather than above the medium size :  although there were
moments of intense passion when his frame actually _expanded_ and
belied the assertion.  The light, almost slender symmetry of his
figure, promised more of that ready activity which he evinced at the
Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean strength which he has been
known to wield without an effort, upon occasions of more dangerous
emergency.  With the mouth and chin of a deity - singular, wild,
full, liquid eyes, whose shadows varied from pure hazel to intense
and brilliant jet - and a profusion of curling, black hair, from
which a forehead of unusual breadth gleamed forth at intervals all
light and ivory - his were features than which I have seen none more
classically regular, except, perhaps, the marble ones of the Emperor
Commodus.  Yet his countenance was, nevertheless, one of those which
all men have seen at some period of their lives, and have never
afterwards seen again.  It had no peculiar - it had no settled
predominant expression to be fastened upon the memory ;  a
countenance seen and instantly forgotten - but forgotten with a vague
and never-ceasing desire of recalling it to mind.  Not that the
spirit of each rapid passion failed, at any time, to throw its own
distinct image upon the mirror of that face - but that the mirror,
mirror-like, retained no vestige of the passion, when the passion had
   Upon leaving him on the night of our adventure, he solicited me,
in what I thought an urgent manner, to call upon him _very_ early the
next morning.  Shortly after sunrise, I found myself accordingly at
his Palazzo, one of those huge structures of gloomy, yet fantastic
pomp, which tower above the waters of the Grand Canal in the vicinity
of the Rialto.  I was shown up a broad winding staircase of mosaics,
into an apartment whose unparalleled splendor burst through the
opening door with an actual glare, making me blind and dizzy with
   I knew my acquaintance to be wealthy.  Report had spoken of his
possessions in terms which I had even ventured to call terms of
ridiculous exaggeration.  But as I gazed about me, I could not bring
myself to believe that the wealth of any subject in Europe could have
supplied the princely magnificence which burned and blazed around.
   Although, as I say, the sun had arisen, yet the room was still
brilliantly lighted up.  I judge from this circumstance, as well as
from an air of exhaustion in the countenance of my friend, that he
had not retired to bed during the whole of the preceding night.  In
the architecture and embellishments of the chamber, the evident
design had been to dazzle and astound.  Little attention had been
paid to the _decora_ of what is technically called _keeping_, or to
the proprieties of nationality. The eye wandered from object to
object, and rested upon none - neither the _grotesques_ of the Greek
painters, nor the sculptures of the best Italian days, nor the huge
carvings of untutored Egypt.  Rich draperies in every part of the
room trembled to the vibration of low, melancholy music, whose origin
was not to be discovered.  The senses were oppressed by mingled and
conflicting perfumes, reeking up from strange convolute censers,
together with multitudinous flaring and flickering tongues of emerald
and violet fire.  The rays of the newly risen sun poured in upon the
whole, through windows, formed each of a single pane of
crimson-tinted glass.  Glancing to and fro, in a thousand
reflections, from curtains which rolled from their cornices like
cataracts of molten silver, the beams of natural glory mingled at
length fitfully with the artificial light, and lay weltering in
subdued masses upon a carpet of rich, liquid-looking cloth of Chili
   "Ha !  ha !  ha !  - ha !  ha !  ha !  " - laughed the proprietor,
motioning me to a seat as I entered the room, and throwing himself
back at full-length upon an ottoman.  "I see," said he, perceiving
that I could not immediately reconcile myself to the _bienseance_ of
so singular a welcome - "I see you are astonished at my apartment -
at my statues - my pictures - my originality of conception in
architecture and upholstery !  absolutely drunk, eh, with my
magnificence ?  But pardon me, my dear sir, (here his tone of voice
dropped to the very spirit of cordiality,) pardon me for my
uncharitable laughter.  You appeared so _utterly_ astonished.
Besides, some things are so completely ludicrous, that a man _must_
laugh or die.  To die laughing, must be the most glorious of all
glorious deaths !  Sir Thomas More - a very fine man was Sir Thomas
More - Sir Thomas More died laughing, you remember.  Also in the
_Absurdities_ of Ravisius Textor, there is a long list of characters
who came to the same magnificent end.  Do you know, however,"
continued he musingly, "that at Sparta (which is now Palę ;  ochori,)
at Sparta, I say, to the west of the citadel, among a chaos of
scarcely visible ruins, is a kind of _socle_, upon which are still
legible the letters  7!=9 . They are undoubtedly part of  '+7!=9! .
Now, at Sparta were a thousand temples and shrines to a thousand
different divinities.  How exceedingly strange that the altar of
Laughter should have survived all the others !  But in the present
instance," he resumed, with a singular alteration of voice and
manner, "I have no right to be merry at your expense.  You might well
have been amazed.  Europe cannot produce anything so fine as this, my
little regal cabinet.  My other apartments are by no means of the
same order - mere _ultras_ of fashionable insipidity. This is better
than fashion - is it not ?  Yet this has but to be seen to become the
rage - that is, with those who could afford it at the cost of their
entire patrimony.  I have guarded, however, against any such
profanation. With one exception, you are the only human being besides
myself and my _valet_, who has been admitted within the mysteries of
these imperial precincts, since they have been bedizzened as you see
   I bowed in acknowledgment - for the overpowering sense of splendor
and perfume, and music, together with the unexpected eccentricity of
his address and manner, prevented me from expressing, in words, my
appreciation of what I might have construed into a compliment.
   "Here," he resumed, arising and leaning on my arm as he sauntered
around the apartment, "here are paintings from the Greeks to Cimabue,
and from Cimabue to the present hour.  Many are chosen, as you see,
with little deference to the opinions of Virtu.  They are all,
however, fitting tapestry for a chamber such as this.  Here, too, are
some _chefs d'œuvre_ of the unknown great ;  and here, unfinished
designs by men, celebrated in their day, whose very names the
perspicacity of the academies has left to silence and to me.  What
think you," said he, turning abruptly as he spoke - "what think you
of this Madonna della Pieta ?"
   "It is Guido's own !  " I said, with all the enthusiasm of my
nature, for I had been poring intently over its surpassing
loveliness. "It is Guido's own !  - how _could_ you have obtained it
?  - she is undoubtedly in painting what the Venus is in sculpture."
   "Ha !  " said he thoughtfully, "the Venus - the beautiful Venus ?
- the Venus of the Medici ?  - she of the diminutive head and the
gilded hair ?  Part of the left arm (here his voice dropped so as to
be heard with difficulty,) and all the right, are restorations ;  and
in the coquetry of that right arm lies, I think, the quintessence of
all affectation.  Give _me_ the Canova !  The Apollo, too, is a copy
- there can be no doubt of it - blind fool that I am, who cannot
behold the boasted inspiration of the Apollo !  I cannot help - pity
me !  - I cannot help preferring the Antinous.  Was it not Socrates
who said that the statuary found his statue in the block of marble ?
Then Michael Angelo was by no means original in his couplet -
     'Non ha l'ottimo artista alcun concetto
     Che un marmo solo in se non circunscriva.' "
   It has been, or should be remarked, that, in the manner of the
true gentleman, we are always aware of a difference from the bearing
of the vulgar, without being at once precisely able to determine in
what such difference consists.  Allowing the remark to have applied
in its full force to the outward demeanor of my acquaintance, I felt
it, on that eventful morning, still more fully applicable to his
moral temperament and character. Nor can I better define that
peculiarity of spirit which seemed to place him so essentially apart
from all other human beings, than by calling it a _habit_ of intense
and continual thought, pervading even his most trivial actions -
intruding upon his moments of dalliance - and interweaving itself
with his very flashes of merriment - like adders which writhe from
out the eyes of the grinning masks in the cornices around the temples
of Persepolis.
   I could not help, however, repeatedly observing, through the
mingled tone of levity and solemnity with which he rapidly descanted
upon matters of little importance, a certain air of trepidation - a
degree of nervous _unction_ in action and in speech - an unquiet
excitability of manner which appeared to me at all times
unaccountable, and upon some occasions even filled me with alarm.
Frequently, too, pausing in the middle of a sentence whose
commencement he had apparently forgotten, he seemed to be listening
in the deepest attention, as if either in momentary expectation of a
visiter, or to sounds which must have had existence in his
imagination alone.
   It was during one of these reveries or pauses of apparent
abstraction, that, in turning over a page of the poet and scholar
Politian's beautiful tragedy "The Orfeo," (the first native Italian
tragedy,) which lay near me upon an ottoman, I discovered a passage
underlined in pencil.  It was a passage towards the end of the third
act - a passage of the most heart-stirring excitement - a passage
which, although tainted with impurity, no man shall read without a
thrill of novel emotion - no woman without a sigh.  The whole page
was blotted with fresh tears ;  and, upon the opposite interleaf,
were the following English lines, written in a hand so very different
from the peculiar characters of my acquaintance, that I had some
difficulty in recognising it as his own :  -
     Thou wast that all to me, love,
        For which my soul did pine -
     A green isle in the sea, love,
        A fountain and a shrine,
     All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers ;
        And all the flowers were mine.
     Ah, dream too bright to last !
        Ah, starry Hope, that didst arise
     But to be overcast !
        A voice from out the Future cries,
     "Onward !  " - but o'er the Past
        (Dim gulf !  ) my spirit hovering lies,
     Mute - motionless - aghast !
     For alas !  alas !  with me
        The light of life is o'er.
     "No more - no more - no more,"
     (Such language holds the solemn sea
        To the sands upon the shore,)
     Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
        Or the stricken eagle soar !
     Now all my hours are trances ;
        And all my nightly dreams
     Are where the dark eye glances,
        And where thy footstep gleams,
     In what ethereal dances,
        By what Italian streams.
     Alas !  for that accursed time
        They bore thee o'er the billow,
     From Love to titled age and crime,
        And an unholy pillow !  -
     From me, and from our misty clime,
        Where weeps the silver willow  !
   That these lines were written in English - a language with which I
had not believed their author acquainted - afforded me little matter
for surprise.  I was too well aware of the extent of his
acquirements, and of the singular pleasure he took in concealing them
from observation, to be astonished at any similar discovery ;  but
the place of date, I must confess, occasioned me no little amazement.
 It had been originally written _London_, and afterwards carefully
overscored - not, however, so effectually as to conceal the word from
a scrutinizing eye.  I say, this occasioned me no little amazement ;
for I well remember that, in a former conversation with a friend, I
particularly inquired if he had at any time met in London the
Marchesa di Mentoni, (who for some years previous to her marriage had
resided in that city,) when his answer, if I mistake not, gave me to
understand that he had never visited the metropolis of Great Britain.
 I might as well here mention, that I have more than once heard,
(without, of course, giving credit to a report involving so many
improbabilities,) that the person of whom I speak, was not only by
birth, but in education, an _Englishman_.
*      *       *      *       *      *       *      *       *
   "There is one painting," said he, without being aware of my notice
of the tragedy - "there is still one painting which you have not
seen." And throwing aside a drapery, he discovered a full-length
portrait of the Marchesa Aphrodite.
     Human art could have done no more in the delineation of her
superhuman beauty.  The same ethereal figure which stood before me
the preceding night upon the steps of the Ducal Palace, stood before
me once again.  But in the expression of the countenance, which was
beaming all over with smiles, there still lurked (incomprehensible
anomaly !) that fitful stain of melancholy which will ever be found
inseparable from the perfection of the beautiful.  Her right arm lay
folded over her bosom.  With her left she pointed downward to a
curiously fashioned vase.  One small, fairy foot, alone visible,
barely touched the earth ;  and, scarcely discernible in the
brilliant atmosphere which seemed to encircle and enshrine her
loveliness, floated a pair of the most delicately imagined wings.  My
glance fell from the painting to the figure of my friend, and the
vigorous words of Chapman's _Bussy D'Ambois_, quivered instinctively
upon my lips :
                        "He is up
     There like a Roman statue !  He will stand
     Till Death hath made him marble !"
   "Come," he said at length, turning towards a table of richly
enamelled and massive silver, upon which were a few goblets
fantastically stained, together with two large Etruscan vases,
fashioned in the same extraordinary model as that in the foreground
of the portrait, and filled with what I supposed to be
Johannisberger.  "Come," he said, abruptly, "let us drink !  It is
early - but let us drink.  It is _indeed_ early," he continued,
musingly, as a cherub with a heavy golden hammer made the apartment
ring with the first hour after sunrise :  "It is _indeed_ early - but
what matters it ?  let us drink !  Let us pour out an offering to yon
solemn sun which these gaudy lamps and censers are so eager to subdue
!" And, having made me pledge him in a bumper, he swallowed in rapid
succession several goblets of the wine.
   "To dream," he continued, resuming the tone of his desultory
conversation, as he held up to the rich light of a censer one of the
magnificent vases - "to dream has been the business of my life. I
have therefore framed for myself, as you see, a bower of dreams.  In
the heart of Venice could I have erected a better ?  You behold
around you, it is true, a medley of architectural embellishments. The
chastity of Ionia is offended by antediluvian devices, and the
sphynxes of Egypt are outstretched upon carpets of gold.  Yet the
effect is incongruous to the timid alone.  Proprieties of place, and
especially of time, are the bugbears which terrify mankind from the
contemplation of the magnificent. Once I was myself a decorist ;  but
that sublimation of folly has palled upon my soul.  All this is now
the fitter for my purpose.  Like these arabesque censers, my spirit
is writhing in fire, and the delirium of this scene is fashioning me
for the wilder visions of that land of real dreams whither I am now
rapidly departing."  He here paused abruptly, bent his head to his
bosom, and seemed to listen to a sound which I could not hear.  At
length, erecting his frame, he looked upwards, and ejaculated the
lines of the Bishop of Chichester :
     _"Stay for me there !  I will not fail_
     _To meet thee in that hollow vale."_
In the next instant, confessing the power of the wine, he threw
himself at full-length upon an ottoman.
   A quick step was now heard upon the staircase, and a loud knock at
the door rapidly succeeded.  I was hastening to anticipate a second
disturbance, when a page of Mentoni's household burst into the room,
and faltered out, in a voice choking with emotion, the incoherent
words, "My mistress !  - my mistress !  - Poisoned !  - poisoned !
Oh, beautiful - oh, beautiful Aphrodite !"
   Bewildered, I flew to the ottoman, and endeavored to arouse the
sleeper to a sense of the startling intelligence.  But his limbs were
rigid - his lips were livid - his lately beaming eyes were riveted in
_death_.  I staggered back towards the table - my hand fell upon a
cracked and blackened goblet - and a consciousness of the entire and
terrible truth flashed suddenly over my soul.
~~~ End of Text ~~~