1843

 

THE CONQUEROR WORM

 

Lo! t is a gala night
    Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
    In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
    A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
    The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
    Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly
    Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
    That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
    Invisible Wo!

That motley drama oh, be sure
    It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
    By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
   To the self‑same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
   And  Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout,
    A crawling shape intrude!
A blood‑red thing that writhes from out
    The scenic solitude!
It writhes! it writhes! with mortal pangs
    The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
    In human gore imbued.

Out out are the lights out all!
    And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
    Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
    Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, Man,
    And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.

LENORE

 

Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll! a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear? weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come, let the burial rite be read the funeral song be sung!
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and ye hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her that she died:
How shall the ritual, then, be read? the requiem how be sung
By you by yours, the evil eye, by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?

Peccavimus; yet rave not thus! but let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath gone before, with Hope that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair, but not within her eyes
The life still there upon her hair the death upon her eyes.

"Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!
Let no bell toll! — lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note, as it doth float — up from the damned Earth.
To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven —
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven —
From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven."

 

[LINES ON JOE LOCKE]

 
As for Locke, he is all in my eye,
    May the d—l [devil] right soon for his soul call.
He never was known to lie --
    In bed at reveille "roll call."
John Locke was a notable name;
    Joe locke is a greater; in short,
The former was well known to fame,
    But the latter's well known "to report."