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The Conqueror Worm
by Edgar Allan Poe

US poet, critic and short story writer. Poe is best known for his macabre horror stories including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Gold Bug and The Black Cat (1842). His key poems include Lenore (1831), The Raven (1842), Ulalume (1847). He also wrote some critical essays including The Philosophy of Composition (1846), Time and Space (1844) and The Poetic Principle (1850), and a novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838). Poe had a great influence on a number of writers including Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne.


The Conqueror Worm
by Edgar Allan Poe

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 !

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 the angels 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,
And the angels,all pallid and wan,
    Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
    And its hero the Conqueror Worm.


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