The City In The Sea

by

Edgar Allan Poe


Lo! Death hath rear'd himself a throne

In a strange city, all alone,

Far down within the dim west--

And the good, and the bad, and the worst, and the best,

Have gone to their eternal rest.


There shrines, and palaces, and towers

Are--not like anything of ours--

O! no--O! no--ours never loom

To heaven with that ungodly gloom!

Time-eaten towers that tremble not!

Around, by lifting winds forgot,

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters lie.


A heaven that God doth not contemn

With stars is like a diadem--

We liken our ladies' eyes to them--

But there! that everlasting pall!

It would be mockery to call

Such dreariness a heaven at all.


Yet tho' no holy rays come down

On the long night-time of that town,

Light from the lurid, deep sea

Streams up the turrets silently--

Up thrones--up long-forgotten bowers

Of sculptur'd ivy and stone flowers--

Up domes--up spires--up kingly halls--

Up fanes--up Babylon-like walls--

Up many a melancholy shrine

Whose entablatures intertwine

The mast--the viol--and the vine.


There open temples--open graves--

Are on a level with the waves--

But not the riches there that lie

In each idol's diamond eye,

Not the gaily-jewell'd dead

Tempt the waters from their bed:

For no ripples curl, alas!

Along that wilderness of glass--

No swellings hint that winds may be

Upon a far-off happier sea:

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in air,

While from the high towers of the town,

Death looks gigantically down.


But lo! a stir is in the air!

The wave! there is a ripple there!

As if the towers had thrown aside,

In slightly sinking, the dull tide--

As if the turret-tops had given

A vacuum in the filmy heaven:

The waves have now a redder glow--

The very hours are breathing low--

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down, that town shall settle hence,

Hell rising from a thousand thrones

Shall do it reverence,

And Death to some more happy clime

Shall give his undivided time.


(1831)



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