The Author Edgar Allan Poe

The City in the Sea

by


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 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.


10

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