Text: George E. Woodberry, “Appendix B,” The Life of Edgar Allan Poe: Personal and Literary (1909), vol. II, pp. 397-399


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­[page 397, continued:]

APPENDIX B

FRAGMENTS OF POE’S TALE: THE LIGHT HOUSE

. . . the three that are usually put in. The duty is a mere nothing; and the printed instructions are as plain as possible. It never would have done to let Orndoff accompany me. I never should have made any way with my book as long as he was within reach of me, with his intolerable gossip — not to mention that everlasting meerschaum. Besides, I wish to be alone. . . . It is strange that I never observed, until this moment, how dreary a sound that word has — “alone”! I could half fancy there ­[page 398:] was some peculiarity in the echo of these cylindrical walls — but oh, no! — this is all nonsense. I do believe I am going to get nervous about my insulation. That will never do. I have not forgotten De Grafs prophecy. Now for a scramble to the lantern and a good look around to “see what I can see.” . . . To see what I can see indeed! — not very much. The swell is subsiding a little, I think — but the cutter will have a rough passage home, nevertheless. She will hardly get within sight of the Norland before noon to-morrow — and yet it can hardly be more than 190 or 200 miles.

Jan. 2. I have passed this day in a species of ecstasy that I find it impossible to describe. My passion for solitude could scarcely have been more thoroughly gratified. I do not say satisfied; for I believe I should never be satiated with such delight as I have experienced to-day. . . . The wind lulled about day-break, and by the after noon the sea had gone down materially. . . . Nothing to be seen, with the telescope even, but ocean and sky, with an occasional gull.

Jan. 3. A dead calm all day. Towards evening, the sea looked very much like glass. A few sea-weeds came in sight; but besides them absolutely nothing all day — not even the slightest speck of cloud. . . . Occupied myself in exploring the light-house. . . . It is a very lofty one — as I find to my cost when I have to ascend its interminable stairs — not quite 160 feet, I should say, from the low-water mark to the top of the lantern. From the bottom inside the shaft, however, the distance to the summit is 180 feet at least: — thus the floor is 20 feet below the sur face of the sea, even at low-tide. . . . It seems to me that the hollow interior at the bottom should have been filled in with solid masonry. Undoubtedly the whole would have ­[page 399:] been thus rendered more safe: — but what am I thinking about? A structure such as this is safe enough under any circumstances. I should feel myself secure in it during the fiercest hurricane that ever raged — and yet I have heard seamen say that, occasionally, with a wind at South-West, the sea has been known to run higher here than any where with the single exception of the Western opening of the Straits of Magellan. No mere sea, though, could accomplish anything with this solid iron-riveted wall which, at 50 feet from high-water mark, is four feet thick, if one inch. . . . The basis on which the structure rests seems to me to be chalk. . . .

Jan. 4

[The MS., from the Griswold Papers, is in Poe’s hand, very clearly written, without alteration or erasure, on three narrow strips of blue paper such as Poe used in other MSS. of 1845.]


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - LEAPPL, 1909] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Life of EAP (G. E. Woodberry) (Appendix B)