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The Haunted Palace

I’ve read nearly the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, but I have no memory of this wonderful poem, The Haunted Palace. 

The world of Poe’s writing is always tragic and vivid. His poems, especially, combine a sense of loss and regret with the experience of inhabiting a dreamy, mysterious and beautiful place unbound to the tedious rules of mortal earth. 

Poe’s poetry always makes me restless. It’s a feeling one might experience in meditative reminiscence of a lost and cherished loved one. Sorrow builds in strength as you morn. Then, the joyful remembrance of their life, the warmth of their spirit is felt with equal intensity. This mixed feeling of missing the dead and basking in memories of past happiness creates a bittersweet ambivalence.

Some of the best Romantic poets reached this state when writing about death. 

The Haunted Palace

by Edgar Allen 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 wingèd odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute’s well-tunèd law,
Round about a throne where, sitting,
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.


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