The City In The Sea - Edgar Allan Poe

The first known version of 'The City In The Sea' appeared in Poems (1831). The text used here is that of Poe's final manuscript revison (1845).

	The City In The Sea

	Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
	In a strange city lying alone
	Far down within the dim West,
	Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
	Have gone to their eternal rest.
	There shrines and palaces and towers
	(Time-easten towers that tremble not!)
	Resemble nothing that is ours.
	Around, by lifting winds forgot,
	Resignedly beneath the sky
	The melancholy water lie.

	No rays from the holy heaven come down
	On the long night-time of that town;
	But light from out the lurid sea
	Streams up the turrets silently --
	Gleams up the pinnacles far and free --
	Up domes -- up spires -- up kingly halls --
	Up fanes -- up Babylon-like walls --
	Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
	Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers --
	Up many and many a marvellous shrine
	Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
	The viol, the violet, and the vine.
	Resignedly beneath the sky
	The melancholy waters lie.
	So blend the turrets and shadows there
	That all seem pendulous in air,
	While from a proud tower in the town
	Death looks gigantically down.

	There open fanes and gaping graves
	Yawn level with the luminous waves;
	But not the riches there that lie
	In each idol's diamond eye --
	Not the gayly-jewelled dead
	Tempt the waters from their bed;
	For no ripples curl, alas!
	Along that wilderness of glass --
	No swellings tell that winds may be
	Upon some far-off happier sea --
	No heavings hint that winds have been
	On seas less hideously serene.

	But lo, a stir is in the air!
	The wave -- there is a movement there!
	As if the towers had thrust aside,
	In slightly sinking, the dull tide --
	As if their tops had feebly given
	A void within the filmy Heaven.
	The waves have now a redder glow --
	The hours are breathing faint and low --
	And when, amid no earthly moans,
	Down, down that town shall settle hence,
	Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
	Shall do it reverence.

Edgar Allan Poe
(c) Keith Parkins 1999 -- March 1999 rev 0