Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
239. The Conqueror Worm
 
By Edgar Allan Poe
 
 
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 seraphs 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,        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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