Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Edgar Allan Poe. 1809–1849
 
87. The Conqueror Worm
 
LO! 't is 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         5
  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,  10
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  15
  Invisible Woe. 
  
That motley drama—oh, be sure 
  It shall not be forgot! 
With its Phantom chased for evermore 
  By a crowd that seize it not,  20
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  25
  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,  30
  And over each quivering form 
  In human gore imbued. 
  
Out—out are the lights—out all! 
  And over each quivering form 
The curtain, a funeral pall,  35
  Comes down with the rush of a storm, 
While the angels, all pallid and wan, 
  Uprising, unveiling, affirm 
That the play is the tragedy, "Man," 
  And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.  40
 
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