Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conqueror Worm” (comparative text)


Texts Represented:

  • 1845-F - RAOP (1845)
  • 1849-J - RAOP-JLG (1849)


[page 27:]



Line-001:  LO! ’tis a gala night

Line-002:  [[indent-2]] Within the lonesome latter years!

Line-003:  An angel throng, bewinged, bedight

Line-004:  [[indent-2]] In veils, and drowned in tears,

Line-005:  Sit in a theatre, to see

Line-006:  [[indent-2]] A play of hopes and fears,

Line-007:  While the orchestra breathes fitfully

Line-008:  [[indent-2]] The music of the spheres.


Line-009:  Mimes, in the form of God on high,

Line-010:  [[indent-2]] Mutter and mumble low,

Line-011:  And hither and thither fly —

Line-012:  [[indent-2]] Mere puppets they, who come and go

Line-013:  At bidding of vast formless things

Line-014:  [[indent-2]] That shift the scenery to and fro,

Line-015:  Flapping from out their Condor wings

Line-016:  [[indent-2]] Invisible Wo!


Line-017:  That motley drama — oh, be sure

Line-018:  [[indent-2]] It shall not be forgot!

Line-019:  With its Phantom chased for evermore,

Line-020:  [[indent-2]] By a crowd that seize it not,

Line-021:  Through a circle that ever returneth in

Line-022:  [[indent-2]] To the self-same spot,

Line-023:  And much of Madness, and more of Sin,

Line-024:  [[indent-2]] And Horror the soul of the plot. [page 28:]


Line-025:  But see, amid the mimic rout

Line-026:  [[indent-2]] A crawling shape intrude!

Line-027:  A blood-red thing that writhes from out

Line-028:  [[indent-2]] The scenic solitude!

Line-029:  It writhes! — it writhes! — with mortal pangs

Line-030:  [[indent-2]] The mimes become its food,

Line-031:  And {{1845-F: the angels // 1849-J: seraphs }} sob at vermin fangs

Line-032:  [[indent-2]] In human gore imbued.


Line-033:  Out — out are the lights — out all!

Line-034:  [[indent-2]] And, over each quivering form,

Line-035:  The curtain, a funeral pall,

Line-036:  [[indent-2]] Comes down with the rush of a storm,

Line-037:  {{1845-F: And // 1849-J: While }} the angels, all pallid and wan,

Line-038:  [[indent-2]] Uprising, unveiling, affirm

Line-039:  That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”

Line-040:  [[indent-2]] And its hero the Conqueror Worm.




For an explanation of the formatting used in this comparative text, see editorial policies and methods. This format is very much an experiment, particularly for poetry.


[S:0 - comparative] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - The Conqueror Worm (comparative - RAOP-JLG)