Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conqueror Worm” (J), Graham’s Magazine, January 1843, 22:32


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[page 32:]

THE CONQUEROR WORM.

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BY EDGAR A. POE.

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[column 1:]

LO! ’t is a gala night

Within the lonesome latter years —

A mystic throng, bewinged, bedight

In veils and drowned in tears,

Sit in a theatre to see

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,

And hither and thither fly —

Mere puppets they, who come and go

At bidding of vast shadowy things

That shift the scenery to and fro,

Flapping from out their Condor wings

Invisible Wo!

 

That motley drama — oh, be sure

It shall not be forgot!

With its Phantom chased forevermore,

By a crowd that seize it not, [column 2:]

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,

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,

And the angels sob at vermin fangs

In human gore imbued!

 

Out — out are the lights — out all!

And, over each dying form,

The curtain, a funeral pall,

Comes down with the rush of a storm,

And the seraphs, all haggard and wan,

Uprising, unveiling, affirm

That the play is the tragedy “Man,”

Its hero the Conqueror Worm.

 


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Notes:

In the table of contents that appeared on the back cover of the paper wrappers of the original issue, this poem is listed as “The Conqueror Worm. By EDGAR A. POE, - 32.” In a section of “CONTRIBUTORS TO THE JANUARY NUMBER,” Poe is listed as “EDGAR A. Poe. Author of ‘Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque,’ etc.” On the front cover, Poe is not listed among the “PRINCIPLE CONTRIBUTORS.” At the top of the front cover appears the additional note: “A NEW YEAR’S GIFT! — IN ADVANCE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.”


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[S:1 - GM, 1843] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Conqueror Worm (Text-A)