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And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.” Point out ways by which Poe makes this conclusion more terrible, such for example as “the deaths, one by one.” Has Poe secured: the effect at which he aimed? Has he pictured Prospero's character in such a way as to make you feel this terrible ending certain to come, and not unjust? Fear of so terrible a plague is natural; what was there in Prospero's fear that takes away our sympathy?
Discussion. 1. What is said in the Introduction on page 96 about purely imaginary stories of adventure? How does Poe make the events of this story seem as if they had really happened? 2. What two kinds of adventure are mentioned on page 95? Which of these kinds is narrated in “The Masque of the Red Death”? 3. Name several stories dealing with this kind of adventure that you read in Part I. 4. What other imaginative stories by Poe have you read? 5. Look up in the Glossary the meaning of: sagacious; depopulated; bizarre; perforce; grotesque; decorum; habiliments; tangible. 6. Pronounce: eccentric; august; courtiers; ballet-dancen suite; disconcert; fête; piquancy; robust; illimitable.
Phrases for Study bid defiance to contagion, 98, 6 out-Heroded Herod, 101, 34 decora of mere fashion, 100, 12 sustain its rôle, 102, 18 masquerade license, 101, 33
attained the extremity, 103, 18
Class Reading. Read aloud the paragraphs of the introduction, trying to suggest by your reading Poe's purpose in writing them; the paragraphs that contain the development of the main incident, trying to suggest what Poe has so powerfully suggested in his story—the terrible fear under all the seeming gayety, and its final outburst; the paragraph that gives the climax, striving to suggest by your reading the increasing fear and final horror; selected sentences that exemplify Poe's imaginative and poetic style, such as in the descriptions of the clock and of the dancers, and in the last paragraph, particularly the last sentence; selected descriptions that give you the most vivid pictures, noting especially the sentence in each that is most poetically expressed; examples showing the careful selection of words especially fitted to express the thought.
Outline for Testing Silent Reading. Make an outline to guide you in telling the story.
Library Reading. “A Descent into the Maelstrom," Poe.
Suggestions for Theme Topics. (Two-Minute Talks.) 1. A great plague of which I know or have read. 2. The Black Death in the fourteenth century. (Use encyclopedias or other library sources.) 3. Contrast the behavior of Prospero with that of Surgeon-General William C. Gorgas, who fought yellow fever in Panama and who rescued Cuba from disease. (The Mentor, November, 1920; use The Readers' Guide to find other material.) 4. Father Damien and his work among the lepers on the Island of Molokai. (A Treasury of Heroes and Heroines, Edwards.) 5. Experiences of Dr. Wilfred C. Grenfell as a medical missionary, from his autobiography, A Labrador Doctor. (Who's Who in America will tell you simple facts of the author's life.)
EDGAR ALLAN POE
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten loreWhile I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 5“ 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door
Only this and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow 10 From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore. For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore:
Nameless here forevermore.
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me -filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; 15 So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating: “ 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door, Some late visitor 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, 5 That I scarce was sure I heard you”-here I opened wide the
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 stillness gave no token, 10 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.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. 15 "Surely," said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore;
'Tis the wind and nothing more.”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, 20 In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore. Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute 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; 5 Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
Much I marveled 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 10 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; 15 Nothing further 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, 20 "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
25 But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy 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 linking
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 5 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
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
10 Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen
censer Swung by seraphim whose footfalls 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: 20 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, 25 It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name LenoreClasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."