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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 and 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 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.

Romance

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
  With drowsy head and folded wing,
  Among the green leaves as they shake
  Far down within some shadowy lake,
  To me a painted paroquet
  Hath been–a most familiar bird–
  Taught me my alphabet to say–
  To lisp my very earliest word
  While in the wild wood I did lie,
  A child–with a most knowing eye.

  Of late, eternal Condor years
  So shake the very Heaven on high
  With tumult as they thunder by,
  I have no time for idle cares
  Though gazing on the unquiet sky.
  And when an hour with calmer wings
  Its down upon my spirit flings–
  That little time with lyre and rhyme
  To while away–forbidden things!
  My heart would feel to be a crime
  Unless it trembled with the strings.

To My Mother

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
    The angels, whispering to one another,
  Can find, among their burning terms of love,
    None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
  Therefore by that dear name I long have called you–
    You who are more than mother unto me,
  And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you,
    In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.
  My mother–my own mother, who died early,
    Was but the mother of myself; but you
  Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
    And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
  By that infinity with which my wife
    Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

Rouge Et Noir

by Emily Dickinson

Soul, wilt thou toss again?
By just such a hazard
Hundreds have lost, indeed,
But tens have won an all.

Angels’ breathless ballot
Lingers to record thee;
Imps in eager caucus
Raffle for my soul.

Gon to the War

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

My Charlie has gone to the war,
  My Charlie so brave and tall;
He left his plough in the furrow,
  And flew at his country’s call.
May God in safety keep him,–
  My precious boy–my all!

My heart is pining to see him;
  I miss him every day;
My heart is weary with waiting,
  And sick of the long delay,–
But I know his country needs him,
  And I could not bid him stay.

I remember how his face flushed,
  And how his color came,
When the flash from the guns of Sumter
  Lit the whole land with flame,
And darkened our country’s banner
  With the crimson hue of shame.

“Mother,” he said, then faltered,–
  I felt his mute appeal;
I paused– if you are a mother,
  You know what mothers feel,
When called to yield their dear ones
  To the cruel bullet and steel.

My heart stood still for a moment,
  Struck with a mighty woe;
A faint as of death came o’er me,
  I am a mother, you know,
But I sternly checked my weakness,
  And firmly bade him “Go.”

Wherever the fight is fiercest
  I know that my boy will be;
Wherever the need is sorest
  Of the stout arms of the free.
May he prove as true to his country
  As he has been true to me.

My home is lonely without him,
  My hearth bereft of joy,
The thought of him who has left me
  My constant sad employ;
But God has been good to the mother,–
  She shall not blush for her boy.

Carving a Name

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

I wrote my name upon the sand,
  And trusted it would stand for aye;
But, soon, alas! the refluent sea
  Had washed my feeble lines away.

I carved my name upon the wood,
  And, after years, returned again;
I missed the shadow of the tree
  That stretched of old upon the plain.

To solid marble next, my name
  I gave as a perpetual trust;
An earthquake rent it to its base,
  And now it lies, o’erlaid with dust.

All these have failed. In wiser mood
  I turn and ask myself, “What then?”
If I would have my name endure,
  I’ll write it on the hearts of men,

In characters of living light,
  Of kindly deeds and actions wrought.
And these, beyond the touch of time,
  Shall live immortal as my thought.

The Haunted Palace

by Edgar Allan Poe
  In the greenest of our valleys
    By good angels tenanted,
  Once a fair and stately palace–
    Radiant palace–reared its head.
  In the monarch Thought’s dominion–
    It stood there!
  Never seraph spread a pinion
    Over fabric half so fair!

  Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
    On its roof did float and flow,
  (This–all this–was in the olden
    Time long ago),
  And every gentle air that dallied,
    In that sweet day,
  Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
    A winged odor went away.

  Wanderers in that happy valley,
    Through two luminous windows, saw
  Spirits moving musically,
    To a lute’s well-tunëd law,
  Bound about a throne where, sitting
    (Porphyrogene!)
  In state his glory well befitting,
    The ruler of the realm was seen.

  And all with pearl and ruby glowing
    Was the fair palace door,
  Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
    And sparkling evermore,
  A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
    Was but to sing,
  In voices of surpassing beauty,
    The wit and wisdom of their king.

  But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
    Assailed the monarch’s high estate.
  (Ah, let us mourn!–for never morrow
    Shall dawn upon him desolate !)
  And round about his home the glory
    That blushed and bloomed,
  Is but a dim-remembered story
    Of the old time entombed.

  And travellers, now, within that valley,
    Through the red-litten windows see
  Vast forms, that move fantastically
    To a discordant melody,
    While, like a ghastly rapid river,
    Through the pale door
  A hideous throng rush out forever
    And laugh–but smile no more.

The Price of Victory

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

“A victory! –a victory!”
  Is flashed across the wires;
Speed, speed the news from State to State,
  Light up the signal fires!
Let all the bells from all the towers
  A joyous peal ring out;
We’ve gained a glorious victory,
  And put the foe to rout!

A mother heard the chiming bells;
  Her joy was mixed with pain.
“Pray God,” she said, “my gallant boy
  Be not among the slain!”
Alas for her! that very hour
  Outstretched in death he lay,
The color from his fair, young face
  Had scarcely passed away.

His nerveless hand still grasped the sword.
  He never more might wield,
His eyes were sealed in dreamless sleep
  Upon that bloody field.
The chestnut curls his mother oft
  Had stroked in fondest pride,
Neglected hung ia clotted locks,
  With deepest crimson dyed.

Ah! many a mother’s heart shall ache,
  And bleed with anguish sore,
When tidings come of him who marched
  So blithely forth to war.
Oh! sad for them, the stricken down
  In manhood’s early dawn,
And sadder yet for loving hearts.
  God comfort them that mourn!

Yes, victory has a fearful price
  Our hearts may shrink to pay,
And tears will mingle with the joy
  That greets a glorious day.
But he who dies in freedom’s cause,
  We cannot count him lost;
A battle won for truth and right
  Is worth the blood it cost!

O mothers! count it something gained
  That they, for whom you mourn,
Bequeath fair Freedom’s heritage
  To millions yet unborn;–
And better than a thousand years
  Of base, ignoble breath,
A patriot’s fragrant memory,
  A hero’s early death!

With a Flower

by Emily Dickinson
I hide myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too –
And angels know the rest.

I hide myself within my flower,
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.

Silence. A Fable

by Edgar Allan Poe
The mountain pinnacles slumber; valleys, crags, and caves _are silent_.

“LISTEN to _me_,” said the Demon, as he placed his hand upon my head.
“The region of which I speak is a dreary region in Libya, by the borders
of the river Zäire. And there is no quiet there, nor silence.

“The waters of the river have a saffron and sickly hue; and they flow
not onward to the sea, but palpitate forever and forever beneath the red
eye of the sun with a tumultuous and convulsive motion. For many miles
on either side of the river’s oozy bed is a pale desert of gigantic
water-lilies. They sigh one unto the other in that solitude, and stretch
towards the heaven their long and ghastly necks, and nod to and fro
their everlasting heads. And there is an indistinct murmur which cometh
out from among them like the rushing of subterrene water. And they sigh
one unto the other.

“But there is a boundary to their realm–the boundary of the dark,
horrible, lofty forest. There, like the waves about the Hebrides, the
low underwood is agitated continually. But there is no wind throughout
the heaven. And the tall primeval trees rock eternally hither and
thither with a crashing and mighty sound. And from their high summits,
one by one, drop everlasting dews. And at the roots, strange poisonous
flowers lie writhing in perturbed slumber. And overhead, with a rustling
and loud noise, the gray clouds rush westwardly forever until they roll,
a cataract, over the fiery wall of the horizon. But there is no wind
throughout the heaven. And by the shores of the river Zäire there is
neither quiet nor silence.

“It was night, and the rain fell; and, falling, it was rain, but, having
fallen, it was blood. And I stood in the morass among the tall lilies,
and the rain fell upon my head–and the lilies sighed one unto the other
in the solemnity of their desolation.

“And, all at once, the moon arose through the thin ghastly mist, and was
crimson in color. And mine eyes fell upon a huge gray rock which stood
by the shore of the river and was lighted by the light of the moon. And
the rock was gray and ghastly, and tall,–and the rock was gray. Upon
its front were characters engraven in the stones; and I walked through
the morass of water-lilies, until I came close unto the shore, that I
might read the characters upon the stone. But I could not decipher them.
And I was going back into the morass when the moon shone with a fuller
red, and I turned and looked again upon the rock and upon the
characters;–and the characters were DESOLATION.

“And I looked upwards, and there stood a man upon the summit of the
rock; and I hid myself among the water-lilies that I might discover the
action of the man. And the man was tall and stately in form, and wrapped
up from his shoulders to his feet in the toga of old Rome. And the
outlines of his figure were indistinct–but his features were the
features of a deity; for the mantle of the night, and of the mist, and
of the moon, and of the dew, had left uncovered the features of his
face. And his brow was lofty with thought, and his eye wild with care;
and in the few furrows upon his cheek, I read the fables of sorrow, and
weariness, and disgust with mankind, and a longing after solitude.

“And the man sat upon the rock, and leaned his head upon his hand, and
looked out upon the desolation. He looked down into the low unquiet
shrubbery, and up into the tall primeval trees, and up higher at the
rustling heaven, and into the crimson moon. And I lay close within
shelter of the lilies, and observed the actions of the man. And the man
trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and he sat upon the
rock.

“And the man turned his attention from the heaven, and looked out upon
the dreary river Zäire, and upon the yellow ghastly waters, and upon the
pale legions of the water-lilies. And the man listened to the sighs of
the water-lilies, and to the murmur that came up from among them. And I
lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the
man trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and he sat upon the
rock.

“Then I went down into the recesses of the morass, and waded afar in
among the wilderness of the lilies, and called unto the hippopotami
which dwelt among the fens in the recesses of the morass. And the
hippopotami heard my call, and came, with the behemoth, unto the foot of
the rock, and roared loudly and fearfully beneath the moon. And I lay
close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man
trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and he sat upon the
rock.

“Then I cursed the elements with the curse of tumult; and a frightful
tempest gathered in the heaven, where before there had been no wind. And
the heaven became livid with the violence of the tempest–and the rain
beat upon the head of the man–and the floods of the river came
down–and the river was tormented into foam–and the water-lilies
shrieked within their beds–and the forest crumbled before the wind–and
the thunder rolled–and the lightning fell–and the rock rocked to its
foundation. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of
the man. And the man trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and
he sat upon the rock.

“Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence, the river, and
the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the heaven, and the
thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies. And they became accursed,
and _were still._ And the moon ceased to totter up its pathway to
heaven–and the thunder died away–and the lightning did not flash–and
the clouds hung motionless–and the waters sunk to their level and
remained–and the trees ceased to rock–and the water-lilies sighed no
more–and the murmur was heard no longer from among them, nor any shadow
of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert. And I looked upon the
characters of the rock, and they were changed;–and the characters were
SILENCE.

“And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the man, and his countenance
was wan with terror. And, hurriedly, he raised his head from his hand,
and stood forth upon the rock and listened. But there was no voice
throughout the vast illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock
were SILENCE. And the man shuddered, and turned his face away, and fled
afar off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more.”

Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi–in the iron-bound,
melancholy volumes of the Magi. Therein, I say, are glorious histories
of the Heaven, and of the Earth, and of the mighty Sea–and of the Genii
that overruled the sea, and the earth, and the lofty heaven. There was
much lore, too, in the sayings which were said by the sybils; and holy,
holy things were heard of old by the dim leaves that trembled around
Dodona–but, as Allah liveth, that fable which the demon told me as he
sat by my side in the shadow of the tomb, I hold to be the most
wonderful of all! And as the Demon made an end of his story, he fell
back within the cavity of the tomb and laughed. And I could not laugh
with the Demon, and he cursed me because I could not laugh. And the lynx
which dwelleth forever in the tomb, came out therefrom, and lay down at
the feet of the Demon, and looked at him steadily in the face.
 

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