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  • young man, from an indefinable reluctance, scarcely dared to draw into his lungs. It might be the odor of the flowers. Could it be Beatrice’s breath which thus embalmed her words with a strange richness, as if by steeping them in her heart? A faintness passed like a shadow over Giovanni and flitted away; he seemed to gaze through the beautiful girl’s eyes into her transparent soul, and felt no more doubt or fear.

    The tinge of passion that had colored Beat rice’s manner vanished; she became gay, and appeared to derive a pure delight from her communion with the youth not unlike what the maiden of a lonely island might have felt conversing with a voyager from the civilized world. Evidently her experience of life had been confined within the limits of that garden. She talked now about matters as simple as the daylight or summer clouds, and now asked questions in reference to the city, or Giovanni’s distant home, his friends, his mother, and his sisters—questions indicating such seclusion, and such lack of familiarity with modes and forms, that Giovanni responded as if to an infant. Her spirit gushed out before him like a fresh rill that was just catching its first glimpse of the sunlight and wondering at the reflections of earth and sky which were flung into its bosom. There came thoughts, too, from a deep source, and fantasies of a gemlike brilliancy, as if diamonds and rubies sparkled upward among the bubbles of the fountain. Ever and anon there gleamed across the young man’s mind a sense of wonder that he should be walking side by side with the being who had so wrought upon his imagination, whom he had idealized in such hues of terror, in whom he had positively witnessed such manifestations of dreadful attributes,—that he should be conversing with Beatrice like a brother, and should find her so human and so maidenlike. But such reflections were only momentary; the effect of her character was too real not to make itself familiar at once.

    In this free intercourse they had strayed through the garden, and now, after many turns among its avenues, were come to the shattered fountain, beside which grew the magnificent shrub, with its treasury of glowing blossoms. A fragrance was diffused from it which Giovanni recognized as identical with that which he had attributed to Beatrice’s breath, but incomparably more powerful. As her eyes fell upon it, Giovanni beheld her press her hand to her bosom as if her heart were throbbing suddenly and painfully.

    “For the first time in my life,” murmured she, addressing the shrub, “I had forgotten thee.”

    “I remember, signora,” said Giovanni, “that you once promised to reward me with one of these living gems for the bouquet which I had the happy boldness to fling to your feet. Permit me now to pluck it as a memorial of this interview.”

    He made a step towards the shrub with extended hand; but Beatrice darted forward, uttering a shriek that went through his heart like a dagger. She caught his hand and drew it back with the whole force of her slender figure. Giovanni felt her touch thrilling through his fibres.

    “Touch it not!” exclaimed she, in a voice of agony. “Not for thy life! It is fatal!”

    Then, hiding her face, she fled from him and vanished beneath the sculptured portal. As Giovanni followed her with his eyes, he beheld the emaciated figure and Page | 973

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    pale intelligence of Dr. Rappaccini, who had been watching the scene, he knew not how long, within the shadow of the entrance.

    No sooner was Guasconti alone in his chamber than the image of Beatrice came back to his passionate musings, invested with all the witchery that had been gathering around it ever since his first glimpse of her, and now likewise imbued with a tender warmth of girlish womanhood. She was human; her nature was endowed with all gentle and feminine qualities; she was worthiest to be worshipped; she was capable, surely, on her part, of the height and heroism of love. Those tokens which he had hitherto considered as proofs of a frightful peculiarity in her physical and moral system were now either forgotten, or, by the subtle sophistry of passion transmitted into a golden crown of enchantment, rendering Beatrice the more admirable by so much as she was the more unique. Whatever had looked ugly was now beautiful; or, if incapable of such a change, it stole away and hid itself among those shapeless half ideas which throng the dim region beyond the daylight of our perfect consciousness. Thus did he spend the night, nor fell asleep until the dawn had begun to awake the slumbering flowers in Dr. Rappaccini’s garden, whither Giovanni’s dreams doubtless led him. Up rose the sun in his due season, and, flinging his beams upon the young man’s eyelids, awoke him to a sense of pain.

    When thoroughly aroused, he became sensible of a burning and tingling agony in his hand—in his right hand—the very hand which Beatrice had grasped in her own when he was on the point of plucking one of the gemlike flowers. On the back of that hand there was now a purple print like that of four small fingers, and the likeness of a slender thumb upon his wrist.

    Oh, how stubbornly does love,—or even that cunning semblance of love which flourishes in the imagination, but strikes no depth of root into the heart,—how stubbornly does it hold its faith until the moment comes when it is doomed to vanish into thin mist! Giovanni wrapped a handkerchief about his hand and wondered what evil thing had stung him, and soon forgot his pain in a reverie of Beatrice.

    After the first interview, a second was in the inevitable course of what we call fate. A third; a fourth; and a meeting with Beatrice in the garden was no longer an incident in Giovanni’s daily life, but the whole space in which he might be said to live; for the anticipation and memory of that ecstatic hour made up the remainder. Nor was it otherwise with the daughter of Rappaccini. She watched for the youth’s appearance, and flew to his side with confidence as unreserved as if they had been playmates from early infancy—as if they were such playmates still.

    If, by any unwonted chance, he failed to come at the appointed moment, she stood beneath the window and sent up the rich sweetness of her tones to float around him in his chamber and echo and reverberate throughout his heart: “Giovanni!

    Giovanni! Why tarriest thou? Come down!” And down he hastened into that Eden of poisonous flowers.

    But, with all this intimate familiarity, there was still a reserve in Beatrice’s demeanor, so rigidly and invariably sustained that the idea of infringing it scarcely occurred to his imagination. By all appreciable signs, they loved; they Page | 974

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    had looked love with eyes that conveyed the holy secret from the depths of one soul into the depths of the other, as if it were too sacred to be whispered by the way; they had even spoken love in those gushes of passion when their spirits darted forth in articulated breath like tongues of long-hidden flame; and yet there had been no seal of lips, no clasp of hands, nor any slightest caress such as love claims and hallows. He had never touched one of the gleaming ringlets of her hair; her garment—so marked was the physical barrier between them—had never been waved against him by a breeze. On the few occasions when Giovanni had seemed tempted to overstep the limit, Beatrice grew so sad, so stern, and withal wore such a look of desolate separation, shuddering at itself, that not a spoken word was requisite to repel him. At such times he was startled at the horrible suspicions that rose, monster-like, out of the caverns of his heart and stared him in the face; his love grew thin and faint as the morning mist, his doubts alone had substance. But, when Beatrice’s face brightened again after the momentary shadow, she was transformed at once from the mysterious, questionable being whom he had watched with so much awe and horror; she was now the beautiful and unsophisticated girl whom he felt that his spirit knew with a certainty beyond all other knowledge.

    A considerable time had now passed since Giovanni’s last meeting with Baglioni. One morning, however, he was disagreeably surprised by a visit from the professor, whom he had scarcely thought of for whole weeks, and would willingly have forgotten still longer. Given up as he had long been to a pervading excitement, he could tolerate no companions except upon condition of their perfect sympathy with his present state of feeling. Such sympathy was not to be expected from Professor Baglioni.

    The visitor chatted carelessly for a few moments about the gossip of the city and the university, and then took up another topic.

    “I have been reading an old classic author lately,” said he, “and met with a story that strangely interested me. Possibly you may remember it. It is of an Indian prince, who sent a beautiful woman as a present to Alexander the Great. She was as lovely as the dawn and gorgeous as the sunset; but what especially distinguished her was a certain rich perfume in her breath—richer than a garden of Persian roses.

    Alexander, as was natural to a youthful conqueror, fell in love at first sight with this magnificent stranger; but a certain sage physician, happening to be present, discovered a terrible secret in regard to her.”

    “And what was that?” asked Giovanni, turning his eyes downward to avoid those of the professor

    “That this lovely woman,” continued Baglioni, with emphasis, “had been nourished with poisons from her birth upward, until her whole nature was so imbued with them that she herself had become the deadliest poison in existence.

    Poison was her element of life. With that rich perfume of her breath she blasted the very air. Her love would have been poison—her embrace death. Is not this a marvellous tale?”

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    “A childish fable,” answered Giovanni, nervously starting from his chair. “I marvel how your worship finds time to read such nonsense among your graver studies.”

    “By the by,” said the professor, looking uneasily about him, “what singular fragrance is this in your apartment? Is it the perfume of your gloves? It is faint, but delicious; and yet, after all, by no means agreeable. Were I to breathe it long, methinks it would make me ill. It is like the breath of a flower; but I see no flowers in the chamber.”

    “Nor are there any,” replied Giovanni, who had turned pale as the professor spoke; “nor, I think, is there any fragrance except in your worship’s imagination.

    Odors, being a sort of element combined of the sensual and the spiritual, are apt to deceive us in this manner. The recollection of a perfume, the bare idea of it, may easily be mistaken for a present reality.”

    “Ay; but my sober imagination does not often play such tricks,” said Baglioni;

    “and, were I to fancy any kind of odor, it would be that of some vile apothecary drug, wherewith my fingers are likely enough to be imbued. Our worshipful friend Rappaccini, as I have heard, tinctures his medicaments with odors richer than those of Araby. Doubtless, likewise, the fair and learned Signora Beatrice would minister to her patients with draughts as sweet as a maiden’s breath; but woe to him that sips them!”

    Giovanni’s face evinced many contending emotions. The tone in which the professor alluded to the pure and lovely daughter of Rappaccini was a torture to his soul; and yet the intimation of a view of her character opposite to his own, gave instantaneous distinctness to a thousand dim suspicions, which now grinned at him like so many demons. But he strove hard to quell them and to respond to Baglioni with a true lover’s perfect faith.

    “Signor professor,” said he, “you were my father’s friend; perchance, too, it is your purpose to act a friendly part towards his son. I would fain feel nothing towards you save respect and deference; but I pray you to observe, signor, that there is one subject on which we must not speak. You know not the Signora Beatrice.

    You cannot, therefore, estimate the wrong—the blasphemy, I may even say—that is offered to her character by a light or injurious word.”

    “Giovanni! my poor Giovanni!” answered the professor, with a calm expression of pity, “I know this wretched girl far better than yourself. You shall hear the truth in respect to the poisoner Rappaccini and his poisonous daughter; yes, poisonous as she is beautiful. Listen; for, even should you do violence to my gray hairs, it shall not silence me. That old fable of the Indian woman has become a truth by the deep and deadly science of Rappaccini and in the person of the lovely Beatrice.”

    Giovanni groaned and hid his face

    “Her father,” continued Baglioni, “was not restrained by natural affection from offering up his child in this horrible manner as the victim of his insane zeal for science; for, let us do him justice, he is as true a man of science as ever distilled his own heart in an alembic. What, then, will be your fate? Beyond a doubt you Page | 976

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    are selected as the material of some new experiment. Perhaps the result is to be death; perhaps a fate more awful still. Rappaccini, with what he calls the interest of science before his eyes, will hesitate at nothing.”

    “It is a dream,” muttered Giovanni to himself; “surely it is a dream.”

    “But,” resumed the professor, “be of good cheer, son of my friend. It is not yet too late for the rescue. Possibly we may even succeed in bringing back this miserable child within the limits of ordinary nature, from which her father’s madness has estranged her. Behold this little silver vase! It was wrought by the hands of the renowned Benvenuto Cellini, and is well worthy to be a love gift to the fairest dame in Italy. But its contents are invaluable. One little sip of this antidote would have rendered the most virulent poisons of the Borgias innocuous. Doubt not that it will be as efficacious against those of Rappaccini. Bestow the vase, and the precious liquid within it, on your Beatrice, and hopefully await the result.”

    Baglioni laid a small, exquisitely wrought silver vial on the table and withdrew, leaving what he had said to produce its effect upon the young man’s mind.

    “We will thwart Rappaccini yet,” thought he, chuckling to himself, as he descended the stairs; “but, let us confess the truth of him, he is a wonderful man—a wonderful man indeed; a vile empiric, however, in his practice, and therefore not to be tolerated by those who respect the good old rules of the medical profession.”

    Throughout Giovanni’s whole acquaintance with Beatrice, he had occasionally, as we have said, been haunted by dark surmises as to her character; yet so thoroughly had she made herself felt by him as a simple, natural, most affectionate, and guileless creature, that the image now held up by Professor Baglioni looked as strange and incredible as if it were not in accordance with his own original conception. True, there were ugly recollections connected with his first glimpses of the beautiful girl; he could not quite forget the bouquet that withered in her grasp, and the insect that perished amid the sunny air, by no ostensible agency save the fragrance of her breath. These incidents, however, dissolving in the pure light of her character, had no longer the efficacy of facts, but were acknowledged as mistaken fantasies, by whatever testimony of the senses they might appear to be substantiated. There is something truer and more real than what we can see with the eyes and touch with the finger. On such better evidence had Giovanni founded his confidence in Beatrice, though rather by the necessary force of her high attributes than by any deep and generous faith on his part. But now his spirit was incapable of sustaining itself at the height to which the early enthusiasm of passion had exalted it; he fell down, grovelling among earthly doubts, and defiled therewith the pure whiteness of Beatrice’s image. Not that he gave her up; he did but distrust. He resolved to institute some decisive test that should satisfy him, once for all, whether there were those dreadful peculiarities in her physical nature which could not be supposed to exist without some corresponding monstrosity of soul. His eyes, gazing down afar, might have deceived him as to the lizard, the insect, and the flowers; but if he could witness, at the distance of a few paces, the sudden blight of one fresh and healthful flower in Beatrice’s hand, there would Page | 977

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    be room for no further question. With this idea he hastened to the florist’s and purchased a bouquet that was still gemmed with the morning dew-drops.

    It was now the customary hour of his daily interview with Beatrice. Before descending into the garden, Giovanni failed not to look at his figure in the mirror,—a vanity to be expected in a beautiful young man, yet, as displaying itself at that troubled and feverish moment, the token of a certain shallowness of feeling and insincerity of character. He did gaze, however, and said to himself that his features had never before possessed so rich a grace, nor his eyes such vivacity, nor his cheeks so warm a hue of superabundant life.

    “At least,” thought he, “her poison has not yet insinuated itself into my system.

    I am no flower to perish in her grasp.”

    With that thought he turned his eyes on the bouquet, which he had never once laid aside from his hand. A thrill of indefinable horror shot through his frame on perceiving that those dewy flowers were already beginning to droop; they wore the aspect of things that had been fresh and lovely yesterday. Giovanni grew white as marble, and stood motionless before the mirror, staring at his own reflection there as at the likeness of something frightful. He remembered Baglioni’s remark about the fragrance that seemed to pervade the chamber. It must have been the poison in his breath! Then he shuddered—shuddered at himself. Recovering from his stupor, he began to watch with curious eye a spider that was busily at work hanging its web from the antique cornice of the apartment, crossing and recrossing the artful system of interwoven lines—as vigorous and active a spider as ever dangled from an old ceiling. Giovanni bent towards the insect, and emitted a deep, long breath.

    The spider suddenly ceased its toil; the web vibrated with a tremor originating in the body of the small artisan. Again Giovanni sent forth a breath, deeper, longer, and imbued with a venomous feeling out of his heart: he knew not whether he were wicked, or only desperate. The spider made a convulsive gripe with his limbs and hung dead across the window.

    “Accursed! accursed!” muttered Giovanni, addressing himself. “Hast thou grown so poisonous that this deadly insect perishes by thy breath?”

    At that moment a rich, sweet voice came floating up from the garden

    “Giovanni! Giovanni! It is past the hour! Why tarriest thou? Come down!”

    “Yes,” muttered Giovanni again. “She is the only being whom my breath may not slay! Would that it might!”

    He rushed down, and in an instant was standing before the bright and loving eyes of Beatrice. A moment ago his wrath and despair had been so fierce that he could have desired nothing so much as to wither her by a glance; but with her actual presence there came influences which had too real an existence to be at once shaken off: recollections of the delicate and benign power of her feminine nature, which had so often enveloped him in a religious calm; recollections of many a holy and passionate outgush of her heart, when the pure fountain had been unsealed from its depths and made visible in its transparency to his mental eye; recollections which, had Giovanni known how to estimate them, would have assured him that all Page | 978

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    th is ugly mystery was but an earthly illusion, and that, whatever mist of evil might seem to have gathered over her, the real Beatrice was a heavenly angel. Incapable as he was of such high faith, still her presence had not utterly lost its magic.

    Giovanni’s rage was quelled into an aspect of sullen insensibility. Beatrice, with a quick spiritual sense, immediately felt that there was a gulf of blackness between them which neither he nor she could pass. They walked on together, sad and silent, and came thus to the marble fountain and to its pool of water on the ground, in the midst of which grew the shrub that bore gem-like blossoms. Giovanni was affrighted at the eager enjoyment—the appetite, as it were—with which he found himself inhaling the fragrance of the flowers.

    “Beatrice,” asked he, abruptly, “whence came this shrub?”

    “My father created it,” answered she, with simplicity.

    “Created it! created it!” repeated Giovanni. “What mean you, Beatrice?”

    “He is a man fearfully acquainted with the secrets of Nature,” replied Beatrice;

    “and, at the hour when I first drew breath, this plant sprang from the soil, the offspring of his science, of his intellect, while I was but his earthly child. Approach it not!” continued she, observing with terror that Giovanni was drawing nearer to the shrub. “It has qualities that you little dream of. But I, dearest Giovanni,—I grew up and blossomed with the plant and was nourished with its breath. It was my sister, and I loved it with a human affection; for, alas!—hast thou not suspected it?—there was an awful doom.”

    Here Giovanni frowned so darkly upon her th at Beatrice paused and trembled.

    But her faith in his tenderness reassured her, and made her blush that she had doubted for an instant.

    “There was an awful doom,” she continued, “the effect of my father’s fatal love of science, which estranged me from all society of my kind. Until Heaven sent thee, dearest Giovanni, oh, how lonely was thy poor Beatrice!”

    “Was it a hard doom?” asked Giovanni, fixing his eyes upon her.

    “Only of late have I known how hard it was,” answered she, tenderly. “Oh, yes; but my heart was torpid, and therefore quiet.”

    Giovanni’s rage broke forth from his sullen gloom like a lightning flash out of a dark cloud.

    “Accursed one!” cried he, with venomous scorn and anger. “And, finding thy solitude wearisome, thou hast severed me likewise from all the warmth of life and enticed me into thy region of unspeakable horror!”

    “Giovanni!” exclaimed Beatrice, turning her large bright eyes upon his face.

    The force of his words had not found its way into her mind; she was merely thunderstruck.

    “Yes, poisonous thing!” repeated Giovanni, beside himself with passion. “Thou hast done it! Thou hast blasted me! Thou hast filled my veins with poison! Thou hast made me as hateful, as ugly, as loathsome and deadly a creature as thyself—a world’s wonder of hideous monstrosity! Now, if our breath be happily as fatal to ourselves as to all others, let us join our lips in one kiss of unutterable hatred, and so die!”

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    “What has befallen me?” murmured Beatrice, with a low moan out of her heart.

    “Holy Virgin, pity me, a poor heart-broken child!”

    “Thou,—dost thou pray?” cried Giovanni, still with the same fiendish scorn.

    “Thy very prayers, as they come from thy lips, taint the atmosphere with death.

    Yes, yes; let us pray! Let us to church and dip our fingers in the holy water at the portal! They that come after us will perish as by a pestilence! Let us sign crosses in the air! It will be scattering curses abroad in the likeness of holy symbols!”

    “Giovanni,” said Beatrice, calmly, for her grief was beyond passion, “why dost thou join thyself with me thus in those terrible words? I, it is true, am the horrible thing thou namest me. But thou,—what hast thou to do, save with one other shudder at my hideous misery to go forth out of the garden and mingle with thy race, and forget there ever crawled on earth such a monster as poor Beatrice?”

    “Dost thou pretend ignorance?” asked Giovanni, scowling upon her. “Behold!

    this power have I gained from the pure daughter of Rappaccini.

    There was a swarm of summer insects flitting through the air in search of the food promised by the flower odors of the fatal garden. They circled round Giovanni’s head, and were evidently attracted towards him by the same influence which had drawn them for an instant within the sphere of several of the shrubs. He sent forth a breath among them, and smiled bitterly at Beatrice as at least a score of the insects fell dead upon the ground.

    “I see it! I see it!” shrieked Beatrice. “It is my father’s fatal science! No, no, Giovanni; it was not I! Never! never! I dreamed only to love thee and be with thee a little time, and so to let thee pass away, leaving but thine image in mine heart; for, Giovanni, believe it, though my body be nourished with poison, my spirit is God’s creature, and craves love as its daily food. But my father,—he has united us in this fearful sympathy. Yes; spurn me, tread upon me, kill me! Oh, what is death after such words as thine? But it was not I. Not for a world of bliss would I have done it.”

    Giovanni’s passion had exhausted itself in its outburst from his lips. There now came across him a sense, mournful, and not without tenderness, of the intimate and peculiar relationship between Beatrice and himself. They stood, as it were, in an utter solitude, which would be made none the less solitary by the densest throng of human life. Ought not, then, the desert of humanity around them to press this insulated pair closer together? If they should be cruel to one another, who was there to be kind to them? Besides, thought Giovanni, might there not still be a hope of his returning within the limits of ordinary nature, and leading Beatrice, the redeemed Beatrice, by the hand? O, weak, and selfish, and unworthy spirit, that could dream of an earthly union and earthly happiness as possible, after such deep love had been so bitterly wronged as was Beatrice’s love by Giovanni’s blighting words! No, no; there could be no such hope. She must pass heavily, with that broken heart, across the borders of Time—she must bathe her hurts in some fount of paradise, and forget her grief in the light of immortality, and THERE be well.

    But Giovanni did not know it.

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    “Dear Beatrice,” said he, approaching her, while she shrank away as always at his approach, but now with a different impulse, “dearest Beatrice, our fate is not yet so desperate. Behold! there is a medicine, potent, as a wise physician has assured me, and almost divine in its efficacy. It is composed of ingredients the most opposite to those by which thy awful father has brought this calamity upon thee and me. It is distilled of blessed herbs. Shall we not quaff it together, and thus be purified from evil?”

    “Give it me!” said Beatrice, extending her hand to receive the little silver vial which Giovanni took from his bosom. She added, with a peculiar emphasis, “I will drink; but do thou await the result.”

    She put Baglioni’s antidote to her lips; and, at the same moment, the figure of Rappaccini emerged from the portal and came slowly towards the marble fountain.

    As he drew near, the pale man of science seemed to gaze with a triumphant expression at the beautiful youth and maiden, as might an artist who should spend his life in achieving a picture or a group of statuary and finally be satisfied with his success. He paused; his bent form grew erect with conscious power; he spread out his hands over them in the attitude of a father imploring a blessing upon his children; but those were the same hands that had thrown poison into the stream of their lives. Giovanni trembled. Beatrice shuddered nervously, and pressed her hand upon her heart.

    “My daughter,” said Rappaccini, “thou art no longer lonely in the world. Pluck one of those precious gems from thy sister shrub and bid thy bridegroom wear it in his bosom. It will not harm him now. My science and the sympathy between thee and him have so wrought within his system that he now stands apart from common men, as thou dost, daughter of my pride and triumph, from ordinary women. Pass on, then, through the world, most dear to one another and dreadful to all besides!”

    “My father,” said Beatrice, feebly,—and still as she spoke she kept her hand upon her heart,—”wherefore didst thou inflict this miserable doom upon thy child?”

    “Miserable!” exclaimed Rappaccini. “What mean you, foolish girl? Dost thou deem it misery to be endowed with marvellous gifts against which no power nor strength could avail an enemy—misery, to be able to quell the mightiest with a breath—misery, to be as terrible as thou art beautiful? Wouldst thou, then, have preferred the condition of a weak woman, exposed to all evil and capable of none?”

    “I would fain have been loved, not feared,” murmured Beatrice, sinking down upon the ground. “But now it matters not. I am going, father, where the evil which thou hast striven to mingle with my being will pass away like a dream-like the fragrance of these poisonous flowers, which will no longer taint my breath among the flowers of Eden. Farewell, Giovanni! Thy words of hatred are like lead within my heart; but they, too, will fall away as I ascend. Oh, was there not, from the first, more poison in thy nature than in mine?”

    To Beatrice,—so radically had her earthly part been wrought upon by Rappaccini’s skill,—as poison had been life, so the powerful antidote was death; and thus the poor victim of man’s ingenuity and of thwarted nature, and of the Page | 981

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    fatality that attends all such efforts of perverted wisdom, perished there, at the feet of her father and Giovanni. Just at that moment Professor Pietro Baglioni looked forth from the window, and called loudly, in a tone of triumph mixed with horror, to the thunderstricken man of science,”Rappaccini! Rappaccini! and is THIS the upshot of your experiment!”

    4.13.6 Reading and Review Questions

    1. How, and to what effect, does Hawthorne mix the real and the fantastic in “My Kinsman, Major Molineux?” How, if at all, does this mixture compare with those in “Young Goodman Brown?” Why is this mixture in

    “Major Molineux” related to the American Revolution?

    2. In “Young Goodman Brown,” why does Hawthorne place the story’s setting in the Puritan past? What is he suggesting about the effect of this past on the American consciousness or spirit?

    3. In “The Minister’s Black Veil,” is Hooper already estranged from his fellow humans when he dons the black veil, or does the veil cause this estrangement? Why? How do you know?

    4. How does the veil’s color connect Hooper’s experience with that of Young Goodman Brown? Why?

    5. What is the attitude towards the intellect in “The Birth-Mark” and

    “Rappaccini’s Daughter?” Why? How do you know?

    4.14 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

    (1807–1882)

    Like his contemporary Alfred,

    Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), Henry

    Wadsworth Longfellow wedded sound

    and sense in epical poetry on the na-

    tion’s lore and history. Unlike Tennyson,

    Longfellow drew not upon Arthurian

    legend but upon American stories and

    legends. He wrote about Native American

    lives, particularly that of the Ojibwe in

    The Song of Hiawatha (1855) and the

    Plymouth Colony in The Courtship of Image 4.13 | Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Miles Standish (1858). The metrical Artist | Thomas Buchanan Read facility, flexible rhyming, and romantic Source | Wikimedia Commons characterizations in Longfellow’s poetry License | Public Domain made his work immensely popular with readers in both America and England.

    However, he was dismissed by later generations for a time as overly traditional Page | 982

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    and didactic. Now, readers appreciate the nuance and diversity, wide-ranging scholarship, and linguistic knowledge available in Longfellow’s work. With T.

    S. Eliot, Longfellow is the only American poet memorialized at Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner.

    Born in Maine, Longfellow studied there, first at Portland Academy then at Bowdoin College, where Nathaniel Hawthorne and Franklin Pierce were among his classmates. Upon graduation, he was offered a professorship of modern languages at Bowdoin. To prepare for this position, Longfellow traveled to Europe, visiting France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and England. Longfellow translated from the original the texts he taught at Bowdoin, to the neglect of his own creative work. In 1831, he married Mary Storer Potter (1812–1835) and published prose travel pieces in The New-England Magazine.

    From 1835 to 1836, he once more traveled abroad to prepare for another teaching position, at Harvard University, for which he acquired a greater knowledge of Germanic and Scandinavian languages. While in Holland, his wife miscarried and died. While touring Austria and Switzerland, he met Fanny Appleton, the woman he would marry seven years later.

    In 1839, he published Voices of the Night, his first book of poetry. He followed it with Ballads and Other Poems (1841), Poems on Slavery (1842), and a collection of travel sketches in prose entitled The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (1846).

    As noted in his May 30 diary entry, this latter collection traces its inspiration as well as its artful execution to sound, to the perfect blending of sound and sense:

    [T]hose chimes, those chimes! How deliciously they lull one to sleep! The little bells, with their clear, liquid notes, like the voices of boys in a choir, and the solemn bass of the great bell tolling in, like the voice of a friar!

    Residing at Craigie House in Cambridge—a wedding gift from his wealthy, industrialist father-in-law—Longfellow became a leading literary figure in not only New England but also across the nation. He consolidated this position by leaving academic life in 1854 to devote himself entirely to writing. In 1861, Fanny Appleton Longfellow was burned to death after her dress caught fire; subsequently, Longfellow’s cosmopolitan and religious interests came to the fore in such works as a three-volume translation in unrhymed triplets of Dante’s Divine Comedy (1865–1871) and Christus: A Mystery, published in three parts (1872).

    4.14.1 “A Psalm of Life”

    (1839)

    What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

    Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

    Life is but an empty dream!

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    For the soul is dead that slumbers,

    And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real! Life is earnest!

    And the grave is not its goal;

    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

    Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

    Is our destined end or way;

    But to act, that each to-morrow

    Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

    And our hearts, though stout and brave,

    Still, like muffled drums, are beating

    Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world’s broad field of battle,

    In the bivouac of Life,

    Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

    Be a hero in the strife!

    Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

    Let the dead Past bury its dead!

    Act,—act in the living Present!

    Heart within, and God o’erhead!

    Lives of great men all remind us

    We can make our lives sublime,

    And, departing, leave behind us

    Footprints on the sands of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,

    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,

    With a heart for any fate;

    Still achieving, still pursuing,

    Learn to labor and to wait.

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    4.14.2 “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport”

    (1858)

    How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,

    Close by the street of this fair seaport town,

    Silent beside the never-silent waves,

    At rest in all this moving up and down!

    The trees are white with dust, that o’er their sleep

    Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind’s breath,

    While underneath these leafy tents they keep

    The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.

    And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,

    That pave with level flags their burial-place,

    Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down

    And broken by Moses at the mountain’s base.

    The very names recorded here are strange,

    Of foreign accent, and of different climes;

    Alvares and Rivera interchange

    With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

    “Blessed be God! for he created Death!”

    The mourners said, “and Death is rest and peace;”

    Then added, in the certainty of faith,

    “And giveth Life that nevermore shall cease.”

    Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,

    No Psalms of David now the silence break,

    No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue

    In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.

    Gone are the living, but the dead remain,

    And not neglected; for a hand unseen,

    Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,

    Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.

    How came they here? What burst of Christian hate,

    What persecution, merciless and blind,

    Drove o’er the sea — that desert desolate—

    These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?

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    They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,

    Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire;

    Taught in the school of patience to endure

    The life of anguish and the death of fire.

    All their lives long, with the unleavened bread

    And bitter herbs of exile and its fears,

    The wasting famine of the heart they fed,

    And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears.

    Anathema maranatha! was the cry

    That rang from town to town, from street to street;

    At every gate the accursed Mordecai

    Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.

    Pride and humiliation hand in hand

    Walked with them through the world where’er they went;

    Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,

    And yet unshaken as the continent.

    For in the background figures vague and vast

    Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,

    And all the great traditions of the Past

    They saw reflected in the coming time.

    And thus forever with reverted look

    The mystic volume of the world they read,

    Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,

    Till life became a Legend of the Dead.

    But ah! what once has been shall be no more!

    The groaning earth in travail and in pain

    Brings forth its races, but does not restore,

    And the dead nations never rise again.

    4.14.3 “My Lost Youth”

    (1858)

    Often I think of the beautiful town

    That is seated by the sea;

    Often in thought go up and down

    The pleasant streets of that dear old town,

    And my youth comes back to me.

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    And a verse of a Lapland song

    Is haunting my memory still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    I can see the shadowy lines of its trees,

    And catch, in sudden gleams,

    The sheen of the far-surrounding seas,

    And islands that were the Hesperides

    Of all my boyish dreams.

    And the burden of that old song,

    It murmurs and whispers still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    I remember the black wharves and the slips,

    And the sea-tides tossing free;

    And Spanish sailors with bearded lips,

    And the beauty and mystery of the ships,

    And the magic of the sea.

    And the voice of that wayward song

    Is singing and saying still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    I remember the bulwarks by the shore,

    And the fort upon the hill;

    The sunrise gun, with its hollow roar,

    The drum-beat repeated o’er and o’er,

    And the bugle wild and shrill.

    And the music of that old song

    Throbs in my memory still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    I remember the sea-fight far away,

    How it thundered o’er the tide!

    And the dead captains, as they lay

    In their graves, o’erlooking the tranquil bay,

    Where they in battle died.

    And the sound of that mournful song

    Goes through me with a thrill:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

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    I can see the breezy dome of groves,

    The shadows of Deering’s Woods;

    And the friendships old and the early loves

    Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves

    In quiet neighborhoods.

    And the verse of that sweet old song,

    It flutters and murmurs still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    I remember the gleams and glooms that dart

    Across the school-boy’s brain;

    The song and the silence in the heart,

    That in part are prophecies, and in part

    Are longings wild and vain.

    And the voice of that fitful song

    Sings on, and is never still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    There are things of which I may not speak;

    There are dreams that cannot die;

    There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,

    And bring a pallor into the cheek,

    And a mist before the eye.

    And the words of that fatal song

    Come over me like a chill:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    Strange to me now are the forms I meet

    When I visit the dear old town;

    But the native air is pure and sweet,

    And the trees that o’ershadow each well-known street,

    As they balance up and down,

    Are singing the beautiful song,

    Are sighing and whispering still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    And Deering’s Woods are fresh and fair,

    And with joy that is almost pain

    My heart goes back to wander there,

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    And among the dreams of the days that were,

    I find my lost youth again.

    And the strange and beautiful song,

    The groves are repeating it still:

    “A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

    And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

    4.14.4 Reading and Review Questions

    1. What allusions to Jewish history, life, and culture does Longfellow make in “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport”? How much understanding of Jewish life and culture on Longfellow’s part do these allusions suggest?

    How might his readers relate to these allusions? Why?

    2. Of all the immigrants to America, why does Longfellow focus on the Jews in “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport?” What might have America offered these Jews similar to/unlike immigrants from other nations? How, if at all, does Longfellow connect the Jews with the Old World (and the Dead) even as they rest in the New World? Why does he do so?

    3. How and why does Longfellow complicate the refrain in “My Lost Youth?”

    4. How has Longfellow regained his lost youth? What are the benefits of his having done so? The detriments?

    5. In “A Psalm of Life,” why does the Young Man address the Psalmist? Why, and how, does the Young Man “correct” the views or words of the Psalmist?

    4.15 JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER

    (1807–1892)

    John Greenleaf Whittier contributed to the continuing and growing call for a national literature through his works on New England folklore and history.

    He set his most accomplished poem, “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll” (1866), in his childhood home, a farm in the Merrimack Valley. His American voice was sentimental and moralistic; it was also sharp, detailed, and simple.

    The simplicity may have been influenced by his Quaker faith; this faith certainly influenced his sense of public duty. Beginning in 1828, Whittier wrote for such important newspapers and journals as The American Manufacturer, New England Weekly Review, and The National Era; he also helped found the Atlantic Monthly. Over the course of his public life, Whittier published hundreds of journal articles, pamphlets, essays, and poems on such important social issues as labor conditions and Abolition. In 1833, he served as a delegate to the National Anti-Slavery Convention in Philadelphia. He also was elected to the Massachusetts legislature, founded the Liberty party, and ran for Congress. In 1835, while on a lecture tour, he and the British abolitionist George Thompson were attacked by an armed mob. Though shot at, they escaped unharmed.

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    In addition to these political activities, Whittier devoted a good part of his writing to the Abolitionist cause with such influential works as Justice and Expediency (1833), “The Slave Ships” (1834), and “Ichabod” (1850). This last poem attacked Daniel Webster, who sought to compromise with those who supported slavery and the Fugitive Slave Law.

    After the Civil War and Emancipation, Whittier turned his attention again to New England life and land. “The Barefoot Boy” (1855), a popular poem set to music, gave voice to his love of nature and the country life. Home Ballads and Other Poems (1860) memorialized his family, especially his sister Mary who had recently died.

    The success of his Poetical Works (1869) contributed to his growing fame and prosperity. Both of these were marked at the dinner celebration of his seventieth birthday given by the Atlantic Monthly and attended by seventy guests, including such important American writers as Emerson, Longfellow, and Mark Twain.

    4.15.1 “The Hunters of Men”

    (1835)

    Have ye heard of our hunting, o’er mountain and glen,

    Through cane-brake and forest,—the hunting of men?

    The lords of our land to this hunting have gone,

    As the fox-hunter follows the sound of the horn;

    Hark! the cheer and the hallo! the crack of the whip,

    And the yell of the hound as he fastens his grip!

    All blithe are our hunters, and noble their match,

    Though hundreds are caught, there are millions to catch.

    So speed to their hunting, o’er mountain and glen,

    Through cane-brake and forest,—the hunting of men!

    Gay luck to our hunters! how nobly they ride

    In the glow of their zeal, and the strength of their pride!

    The priest with his cassock flung back on the wind,

    Just screening the politic statesman behind;

    The saint and the sinner, with cursing and prayer,

    The drunk and the sober, ride merrily there.

    And woman, kind woman, wife, widow, and maid,

    For the good of the hunted, is lending her aid

    Her foot’s in the stirrup, her hand on the rein,

    How blithely she rides to the hunting of men!

    Oh, goodly and grand is our hunting to see,

    In this “land of the brave and this home of the free.”

    Priest, warrior, and statesman, from Georgia to Maine,

    All mounting the saddle, all grasping the rein;

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    Right merrily hunting the black man, whose sin

    Is the curl of his hair and the hue of his skin!

    Woe, now, to the hunted who turns him at bay

    Will our hunters be turned from their purpose and prey?

    Will their hearts fail within them? their nerves tremble, when All roughly they ride to the hunting of men?

    Ho! alms for our hunters! all weary and faint,

    Wax the curse of the sinner and prayer of the saint.

    The horn is wound faintly, the echoes are still,

    Over cane-brake and river, and forest and hill.

    Haste, alms for our hunters! the hunted once more

    Have turned from their flight with their backs to the shore What right have they here in the home of the white,

    Shadowed o’er by our banner of Freedom and Right?

    Ho! alms for the hunters! or never again

    Will they ride in their pomp to the hunting of men!

    Alms, alms for our hunters! why will ye delay,

    When their pride and their glory are melting away?

    The parson has turned; for, on charge of his own,

    Who goeth a warfare, or hunting, alone?

    The politic statesman looks back with a sigh,

    There is doubt in his heart, there is fear in his eye.

    Oh, haste, lest that doubting and fear shall prevail,

    And the head of his steed take the place of the tail.

    Oh, haste, ere he leave us! for who will ride then,

    For pleasure or gain, to the hunting of men?

    4.15.2 “The Farewell”

    (1838)

    Of A Virginia Slave Mother To Her Daughters Sold Into Southern Bondage Gone, gone,—sold and gone

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.

    Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings

    Where the noisome insect stings

    Where the fever demon strews

    Poison with the falling dews

    Where the sickly sunbeams glare

    Through the hot and misty air;

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

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    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

    From Virginia’s hills and waters;

    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone

    There no mother’s eye is near them,

    There no mother’s ear can hear them;

    Never, when the torturing lash

    Seams their back with many a gash

    Shall a mother’s kindness bless them

    Or a mother’s arms caress them.

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

    From Virginia’s hills and waters;

    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

    Oh, when weary, sad, and slow,

    From the fields at night they go

    Faint with toil, and racked with pain

    To their cheerless homes again,

    There no brother’s voice shall greet them

    There no father’s welcome meet them.

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

    From Virginia’s hills and waters;

    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone

    From the tree whose shadow lay

    On their childhood’s place of play;

    From the cool sprmg where they drank;

    Rock, and hill, and rivulet bank;

    From the solemn house of prayer,

    And the holy counsels there;

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

    From Virginia’s hills and waters;

    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

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    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone;

    Toiling through the weary day,

    And at night the spoiler’s prey.

    Oh, that they had earlier died,

    Sleeping calmly, side by side,

    Where the tyrant’s power is o’er

    And the fetter galls no more!

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone;

    From Virginia’s hills and waters

    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone;

    By the holy love He beareth;

    By the bruised reed He spareth;

    Oh, may He, to whom alone

    All their cruel wrongs are known,

    Still their hope and refuge prove,

    With a more than mother’s love.

    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

    To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

    From Virginia’s hills and waters;

    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

    4.15.3 Reading and Review Questions

    1. In “The Hunters of Men,” how does Whittier use allusions to and assumptions about the Land of the Free? To what effect?

    2. Who are the hunters of men the poem identifies? What, if anything, do they have in common? Think of such apparent opposites as sinners and saints, or kind women and politicians.

    3. Why do the hunters of men need alms?

    4. In “The Farewell,” why does Whittier choose a mother to voice the pains of family separation that slaves endure? What attitudes about and toward mothers does Whittier use to enforce his poem’s intent? Why, and how?

    5. In “The Farewell,” why does the mother lament the daughter rather than any (possible) sons? Why does the poem focus on the plight of female slavery? What assumptions about themselves does Whittier challenge his readers in this poem? Why, and how?

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    4.16 EDGAR ALLAN POE

    (1809–1849)

    Written by Corey Parson

    Born in Boston to actors Elizabeth

    Arnold Poe and David Poe, Jr., Edgar

    Allan Poe was swiftly abandoned by both

    parents before the age of four. His father

    simply picked up and left the family. A

    year later, Poe’s mother unfortunately

    contracted tuberculosis and passed away,

    leaving Poe an orphan. He was taken in

    by John Allan, a tobacco merchant, and

    his wife, Frances Valentine Allan. The

    Allans raised Poe as their own, though

    he was never officially adopted by the

    couple.

    Poe took to poetry at a young age,

    which often caused a clash between

    himself and his adoptive father. Whereas

    John Allan wished for Poe to take over the

    family business, Poe had no such desire

    and continued to write. As a young man, Image 4.14 | Edgar Allan Poe he attended the University of Virginia Photographer | Unknown with Allan footing the bill. However, Source | Wikimedia Commons License | Public Domain

    this arrangement didn’t last long as

    Allan refused to continue to pay for Poe’s secondary education, reportedly due to financial disagreements between the two men. After amounting a mass of debt due to gambling, Poe was forced to leave the university and enlisted in the Army.

    It was while in the Army that Poe anonymously published his first collection, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827). After Frances Valentine Allan, the only mother Poe knew, died of tuberculosis, John Allan and Poe mended their relationship, and Allan helped Poe get accepted into West Point. Though he was a good student, Poe’s mind wandered more to prose and poetry and less to his duties at West Point.

    Worse yet, his relationship with Allan was on the rocks yet again. Poe was kicked out of West Point, though it is unclear if Poe purposefully caused his expulsion to spite his foster father. Allan won the parting shot though; after his death in 1834, he left Poe out of his will completely.

    After West Point, Poe traveled extensively, living in poverty as a full-time writer in major cities like New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond. While in Richmond, he fell in love with his cousin, Virginia Clemm, and married her in 1836. Poe was 27, and Clemm was 13.

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    After winning a short story contest, Poe’s writing career picked up and he went on to publish more short stories in literary journals and magazines. He also worked as a critic for the Southern Literary Messenger and was notorious for his biting reviews, earning him the nickname “Tomahawk Man.” His position as critic with the magazine proved short-lived as his seething reviews often led to confrontation.

    It is believed he was fired after his boss found him drunk on the job. Over the years, Poe had developed a liking to alcohol, eventually leading to a dependence on liquor. This dependence evolved into full-blown alcoholism when Virginia fell ill with tuberculosis in 1842. The very disease that killed his birth mother and later his adoptive mother seemed insatiable, targeting the women Poe loved. It was while his wife was sick that Poe wrote the famous poem for which he is known:

    “The Raven” (1845).

    “The Raven” skyrocketed Poe from infamous critic to famous poet. But the literary recognition of his arguably most popular poem did not come with the paycheck one would expect. He only received $9 from The American Review for it, and Poe continued to struggle financially for the rest of his life.

    Debt and alcoholism weren’t the only demons haunting Poe. Death soon darkened his door yet again. In 1947, Virginia lost her battle with tuberculosis, devastating Poe. She was only 24 years old. After her death, Poe’s dependency on substances grew until, in 1849, he died at the age of 40 under suspicious circumstances. Some sources say he drank himself to death while others blame his death on drugs or rabies. No one is certain how Poe died, and it remains a mystery to this day, not unlike the gothic endings of some of his most celebrated works.

    Poe may have beaten Death in the end; his works are still recognized as an important part of the American Literature canon. Modern day readers have Poe to thank for detective fiction, a genre which some credit him for creating. Best known for his evocative storytelling and his gothic style, Poe continues to influence writers across the centuries from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Stephen King, who is quoted in a Mystery Scene magazine article as saying of Poe, “He wasn’t just a mystery/suspense writer. He was the first.”

    4.16.1 “Sonnet—To Science”

    (1829)

    SCIENCE! true daughter of Old Time thou art!

    Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.

    Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,

    Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?

    How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,

    Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering

    To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies

    Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?

    Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?

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    And driven the Hamadryad from the wood

    To seek a shelter in some happier star?

    Hast thous not torn the Naiad from her flood,

    The Elfin from the green grass, and from me

    The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

    4.16.2 “The Raven”

    (1845)

    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

    “‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

    Only this, and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

    And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

    For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

    Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

    “‘Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door—

    Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

    This it is, and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

    “Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you “—here I opened wide the door;——

    Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”

    This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

    Merely this, and nothing more.

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    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.

    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

    Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

    ‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—

    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—

    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

    “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven, Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore—

    Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

    Quoth the raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;

    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—

    Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—

    On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”

    Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

    “Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—

    Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

    Of “Never—nevermore.”

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    But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to blinking

    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—

    What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

    To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er, She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by Angels whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;

    Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

    Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—

    Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—

    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—

    Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”

    Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!

    By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—

    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

    Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

    Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

    “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!

    Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

    Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

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    And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted—nevermore!

    4.16.3 “Annabel Lee”

    (1849)

    It was many and many a year ago,

    In a kingdom by the sea,

    That a maiden lived whom you may know

    By the name of ANNABEL LEE;—

    And this maiden she lived with no other thought

    Than to love and be loved by me.

    I was a child and She was a child,

    In this kingdom by the sea,

    But we loved with a love that was more than love—

    I and my ANNABEL LEE—

    With a love that the wing’d seraphs of Heaven

    Coveted her and me.

    And this was the reason that, long ago,

    In this kingdom by the sea,

    A wind blew out of a cloud by night

    Chilling my ANNABEL LEE;

    So that her high-born kinsmen came

    And bore her away from me,

    To shut her up, in a sepulcher

    In this kingdom by the sea.

    The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

    Went envying her and me;

    Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,

    In this kingdom by the sea)

    That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling

    And killing my ANNABEL LEE.

    But our love it was stronger by far than the love

    Of those who were older than we—

    Of many far wiser than we—

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    And neither the angels in Heaven above

    Nor the demons down under the sea

    Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

    Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE:—

    For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

    Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;

    And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes

    Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;

    And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

    Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride

    In her sepulchre there by the sea—

    In her tomb by the side of the sea.

    4.16.4“Ligeia”

    (1838)

    And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.—Joseph Glanvill.

    I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia. Long years have since elapsed, and my memory is feeble through much suffering. Or, perhaps, I cannot now bring these points to mind, because, in truth, the character of my beloved, her rare learning, her singular yet placid cast of beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her low musical language, made their way into my heart by paces so steadily and stealthily progressive that they have been unnoticed and unknown. Yet I believe that I met her first and most frequently in some large, old, decaying city near the Rhine. Of her family—I have surely heard her speak. That it is of a remotely ancient date cannot be doubted. Ligeia! Ligeia! in studies of a nature more than all else adapted to deaden impressions of the outward world, it is by that sweet word alone—by Ligeia—that I bring before mine eyes in fancy the image of her who is no more. And now, while I write, a recollection flashes upon me that I have never known the paternal name of her who was my friend and my betrothed, and who became the partner of my studies, and finally the wife of my bosom. Was it a playful charge on the part of my Ligeia? or was it a test of my strength of affection, that I should institute no inquiries upon this point? or was it rather a caprice of my own—a wildly romantic offering on the shrine of the most passionate devotion? I but indistinctly recall the fact itself—what wonder that I have utterly forgotten the circumstances which originated or attended it? And, indeed, if ever she, the wan and the misty-winged Ashtophet of idolatrous Egypt, presided, as they tell, over marriages ill-omened, then most surely she presided over mine.

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    There is one dear topic, however, on which my memory fails me not. It is the person of Ligeia. In stature she was tall, somewhat slender, and, in her latter days, even emaciated. I would in vain attempt to portray the majesty, the quiet ease, of her demeanor, or the incomprehensible lightness and elasticity of her footfall.

    She came and departed as a shadow. I was never made aware of her entrance into my closed study save by the dear music of her low sweet voice, as she placed her marble hand upon my shoulder. In beauty of face no maiden ever equalled her.

    It was the radiance of an opium-dream—an airy and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies which hovered vision about the slumbering souls of the daughters of Delos. Yet her features were not of that regular mould which we have been falsely taught to worship in the classical labors of the heathen.

    “There is no exquisite beauty,” says Bacon, Lord Verulam, speaking truly of all the forms and genera of beauty, “without some strangeness in the proportion.” Yet, although I saw that the features of Ligeia were not of a classic regularity—although I perceived that her loveliness was indeed “exquisite,” and felt that there was much of “strangeness” pervading it, yet I have tried in vain to detect the irregularity and to trace home my own perception of “the strange.” I examined the contour of the lofty and pale forehead—it was faultless—how cold indeed that word when applied to a majesty so divine!—the skin rivalling the purest ivory, the commanding extent and repose, the gentle prominence of the regions above the temples; and then the raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant and naturally-curling tresses, setting forth the full force of the Homeric epithet, “hyacinthine!” I looked at the delicate outlines of the nose—and nowhere but in the graceful medallions of the Hebrews had I beheld a similar perfection. There were the same luxurious smoothness of surface, the same scarcely perceptible tendency to the aquiline, the same harmoniously curved nostrils speaking the free spirit. I regarded the sweet mouth. Here was indeed the triumph of all things heavenly—the magnificent turn of the short upper lip—the soft, voluptuous slumber of the under—the dimples which sported, and the color which spoke—the teeth glancing back, with a brilliancy almost startling, every ray of the holy light which fell upon them in her serene and placid, yet most exultingly radiant of all smiles. I scrutinized the formation of the chin—and here, too, I found the gentleness of breadth, the softness and the majesty, the fullness and the spirituality, of the Greek—the contour which the god Apollo revealed but in a dream, to Cleomenes, the son of the Athenian. And then I peered into the large eyes of Ligeia.

    For eyes we have no models in the remotely antique. It might have been, too, that in these eyes of my beloved lay the secret to which Lord Verulam alludes. They were, I must believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad.

    Yet it was only at intervals—in moments of intense excitement—that this peculiarity became more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia. And at such moments was her beauty—in my heated fancy thus it appeared perhaps—the beauty of beings either above or apart from the earth—the beauty of the fabulous Houri of the Turk. The Page | 1001

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    hue of the orbs was the most brilliant of black, and, far over them, hung jetty lashes of great length. The brows, slightly irregular in outline, had the same tint. The

    “strangeness,” however, which I found in the eyes, was of a nature distinct from the formation, or the color, or the brilliancy of the features, and must, after all, be referred to the expression. Ah, word of no meaning! behind whose vast latitude of mere sound we intrench our ignorance of so much of the spiritual. The expression of the eyes of Ligeia! How for long hours have I pondered upon it! How have I, through the whole of a midsummer night, struggled to fathom it! What was it—that something more profound than the well of Democritus—which lay far within the pupils of my beloved? What was it? I was possessed with a passion to discover.

    Those eyes! those large, those shining, those divine orbs! they became to me twin stars of Leda, and I to them devoutest of astrologers.

    There is no point, among the many incomprehensible anomalies of the science of mind, more thrillingly exciting than the fact—never, I believe, noticed in the schools—that, in our endeavors to recall to memory something long forgotten, we often find ourselves upon the very verge of remembrance, without being able, in the end, to remember. And thus how frequently, in my intense scrutiny of Ligeia’s eyes, have I felt approaching the full knowledge of their expression—

    felt it approaching—yet not quite be mine—and so at length entirely depart! And (strange, oh strangest mystery of all!) I found, in the commonest objects of the universe, a circle of analogies to that expression. I mean to say that, subsequently to the period when Ligeia’s beauty passed into my spirit, there dwelling as in a shrine, I derived, from many existences in the material world, a sentiment such as I felt always aroused within me by her large and luminous orbs. Yet not the more could I define that sentiment, or analyze, or even steadily view it. I recognized it, let me repeat, sometimes in the survey of a rapidly-growing vine—in the contemplation of a moth, a butterfly, a chrysalis, a stream of running water. I have felt it in the ocean; in the falling of a meteor. I have felt it in the glances of unusually aged people. And there are one or two stars in heaven—(one especially, a star of the sixth magnitude, double and changeable, to be found near the large star in Lyra) in a telescopic scrutiny of which I have been made aware of the feeling. I have been filled with it by certain sounds from stringed instruments, and not unfrequently by passages from books. Among innumerable other instances, I well remember something in a volume of Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps merely from its quaintness—who shall say?) never failed to inspire me with the sentiment;—“And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.”

    Length of years, and subsequent reflection, have enabled me to trace, indeed, some remote connection between this passage in the English moralist and a portion of the character of Ligeia. An intensity in thought, action, or speech, was possibly, in her, a result, or at least an index, of that gigantic volition which, during our long Page | 1002

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    intercourse, failed to give other and more immediate evidence of its existence. Of all the women whom I have ever known, she, the outwardly calm, the ever-placid Ligeia, was the most violently a prey to the tumultuous vultures of stern passion.

    And of such passion I could form no estimate, save by the miraculous expansion of those eyes which at once so delighted and appalled me—by the almost magical melody, modulation, distinctness and placidity of her very low voice—and by the fierce energy (rendered doubly effective by contrast with her manner of utterance) of the wild words which she habitually uttered.

    I have spoken of the learning of Ligeia: it was immense—such as I have never known in woman. In the classical tongues was she deeply proficient, and as far as my own acquaintance extended in regard to the modern dialects of Europe, I have never known her at fault. Indeed upon any theme of the most admired, because simply the most abstruse of the boasted erudition of the academy, have I ever found Ligeia at fault? How singularly—how thrillingly, this one point in the nature of my wife has forced itself, at this late period only, upon my attention! I said her knowledge was such as I have never known in woman—but where breathes the man who has traversed, and successfully, all the wide areas of moral, physical, and mathematical science? I saw not then what I now clearly perceive, that the acquisitions of Ligeia were gigantic, were astounding; yet I was sufficiently aware of her infinite supremacy to resign myself, with a child-like confidence, to her guidance through the chaotic world of metaphysical investigation at which I was most busily occupied during the earlier years of our marriage. With how vast a triumph—with how vivid a delight—with how much of all that is ethereal in hope—

    did I feel, as she bent over me in studies but little sought—but less known—that delicious vista by slow degrees expanding before me, down whose long, gorgeous, and all untrodden path, I might at length pass onward to the goal of a wisdom too divinely precious not to be forbidden!

    How poignant, then, must have been the grief with which, after some years, I beheld my well-grounded expectations take wings to themselves and fly away!

    Without Ligeia I was but as a child groping benighted. Her presence, her readings alone, rendered vividly luminous the many mysteries of the transcendentalism in which we were immersed. Wanting the radiant lustre of her eyes, letters, lambent and golden, grew duller than Saturnian lead. And now those eyes shone less and less frequently upon the pages over which I pored. Ligeia grew ill. The wild eyes blazed with a too—too glorious effulgence; the pale fingers became of the transparent waxen hue of the grave, and the blue veins upon the lofty forehead swelled and sank impetuously with the tides of the gentle emotion. I saw that she must die—and I struggled desperately in spirit with the grim Azrael. And the struggles of the passionate wife were, to my astonishment, even more energetic than my own. There had been much in her stern nature to impress me with the belief that, to her, death would have come without its terrors;—but not so. Words are impotent to convey any just idea of the fierceness of resistance with which she wrestled with the Shadow. I groaned in anguish at the pitiable spectacle. I Page | 1003

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    would have soothed—I would have reasoned; but, in the intensity of her wild desire for life,—for life—but for life—solace and reason were the uttermost folly. Yet not until the last instance, amid the most convulsive writhings of her fierce spirit, was shaken the external placidity of her demeanor. Her voice grew more gentle—grew more low—yet I would not wish to dwell upon the wild meaning of the quietly uttered words. My brain reeled as I hearkened entranced, to a melody more than mortal—to assumptions and aspirations which mortality had never before known.

    That she loved me I should not have doubted; and I might have been easily aware that, in a bosom such as hers, love would have reigned no ordinary passion.

    But in death only, was I fully impressed with the strength of her affection. For long hours, detaining my hand, would she pour out before me the overflowing of a heart whose more than passionate devotion amounted to idolatry. How had I deserved to be so blessed by such confessions?—how had I deserved to be so cursed with the removal of my beloved in the hour of her making them? But upon this subject I cannot bear to dilate. Let me say only, that in Ligeia’s more than womanly abandonment to a love, alas! all unmerited, all unworthily bestowed, I at length recognized the principle of her longing with so wildly earnest a desire for the life which was now fleeing so rapidly away. It is this wild longing—it is this eager vehemence of desire for life—but for life—that I have no power to portray—

    no utterance capable of expressing.

    At high noon of the night in which she departed, beckoning me, peremptorily, to her side, she bade me repeat certain verses composed by herself not many days before. I obeyed her.—They were these:

    Lo! ‘tis 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!

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