Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Silence (Siope)” [Text-01], manuscript fragment, about 1832


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[page 153:]

[[SIOPE — A FABLE.]]

[[The title, motto and first 6 paragraphs have not survived.]]

[[. . .]] [front of page:] forest, and up higher at the rustling Heaven, and into the crimson moon. And I lay close within shelter of the lilies and I observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude — but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.

And the man turned his attention from the Heaven, and looked out upon the dreary river Zaire — and upon the yellow ghastly waters, and upon the pale legions of the water-lilies. And the man listened to the sighs of the water-lilies and to the murmur that came up from among them. And I lay close within my covert, and I observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude — but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.

Then I went down into the recesses of the morass, and waded far in among the wilderness of the lilies, and called unto the hippopotami which dwelt among the fens in the recesses of the morass. And the hippopotami heard my call and came with the behemoth unto the foot of the rock, and roared loudly and fearfully beneath the moon. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude — but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.

Then I cursed the elements, and a frightful tempest gathered in the Heaven where before there had been no wind. And the Heaven became livid with the violence of the tempest — and the rain beat upon the head of the man — and the floods of the river came down — and the river was tormented into foam — and the waterlilies shrieked within their beds — and the trees crumbled before the wind — and the lightning flashed — and the thunder fell — and the rock rocked to its foundation. And I lay close within my covert, and I observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled within the solitude — but the night waned, and he sat upon the rock.

Then I grew angry and cursed with a silent curse the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the Heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies. And they became accursed — and were still. And the moon ceased to totter in its [back of page:] pathway up the Heaven — and the thunder died away — and the lightning did not flash — and the clouds hung motionless — and the waters sunk to their level and remained — and the trees ceased to rock — and the water-lilies sighed no more — and the murmur was heard no longer from among them — nor any shadow of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert. And I looked upon the characters of the rock, and they were changed — and the characters were SILENCE.

And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the man — and his countenance was wan with terror. And he raised his head from his hand, and stood forth upon the rock — and listened. But there was no voice throughout the vast illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock were SILENCE. And the man shuddered — and turned his face away — and fled afar off — and I saw him no more.’

Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi — in the iron-bound melancholy volumes of the Magi. Therein, I say, are glorious histories of the Heaven and of the Earth, and of the mighty Sea — and of the Genii that over-ruled the sea, and the Earth, and the lofty Heaven. There was much lore too in the Sayings which were said by the Sybils — and holy, holy things were heard of old by the dim leaves that trembled around Dodona —— but as Allah liveth that fable which the Demon told me, as he sat by my side in the shadow of the old tomb at Balbec, I hold to be the most wonderful of all. And as the Demon made an end of his story he fell back within the cavity of the tomb and laughed. And I tried, but could not laugh with the Demon — and he cursed me because I could not laugh. And the lynx which dwelleth in the cavern by the tomb came out from his lair, and lying down at the feet of the Demon looked at him steadily in the face.

71


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Notes:

The first page of the manuscript has long been lost. The surviving text is written by Poe in a small print, imitating a typeset page. For many years, the manuscript was owned, along with the introduction for The Tales of Folio Club, by the Griswold family. It is now the property of the Poe Foundation in Richmond, Virginia.

The “71” which appears at the lower right corner of the back of the page is apparently a page number. It would appear that this is the last tale of the collection. A facsimile of this manuscript fragment is reproduced in John W. Robertson, Commentary on the Bibliography of Edgar A. Poe, 1934, between pages 114-115. The facsimile contains some errors not in the original, such as the word “beanath” rather than “beneath” in the third paragraph.


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[S:1 - MS, about 1832] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - Silence (Siope) [Text-01]