Text: Anonymous, “The Haunted Palace,” Collegian (Harvard, later the Harvard Advocate), vol. I, no. 1, March 9, 1866, pp. 8-9


[page 8:]


AMONG the names of the very few poets who have achieved success in the purely ideal and imaginative branch of their art, none stand deservedly so high as that of Edgar Allan Poe. He was an American member of the school of Coleridge and Hood, and remains the solitary instance of American superiority in any department of literature. Hawthorne, Irving, and Prescott, as novelist, essayist, and historian, have each been surpassed; but there can hardly be found the equal of Poe as poet of the imagination and fancy. In all his poems and stories, there is a continual exhibition of that peculiar genius which produced “The Ancient Mariner,” “The Haunted House,” and “The Raven.” So colored are his love songs even, by that “light which never was on sea or land,” that we half believe “the beautiful Annabel Lee” as visionary a creation as the “Abyssinian Maid,” the “Country of Kubla Kahn,” or the “Woodland [column 2:] of Weir.” In many others of his shorter productions, the meaning is so hidden by this veil of unreality, that we are obliged to read them again and again, ere we discover them to be beautiful allegories. One of the finest of these, and one which has undoubtedly received less attention from the reading public than its merits deserve, is


In the greenest of our valleys,

By good angels tenanted,

Once, a fair and stately palace —

Radiant palace — reared its head.

In the monarch Thought’s dominion,

It stood there!

Never seraph spread a pinion

Over fabric half so fair.


Banners yellow, glorious, golden,

On its roof did float and flow

(This — all this — was in the olden

Time, long ago).

And every gentle air that dallied

In that sweet day,

Along its ramparts plumed and pallid,

A wingèd odor went away.


Wanderers in that happy valley

Through two luminous windows saw

Spirits moving musically

To a lute’s well-tuned law,

Round about a throne where, sitting


In state his glory well befitting,

The ruler of the realm was seen.


And all with pearl and ruby glowing

Was the fair palace door,

Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,

And sparkling evermore,

A troop of echoes, whose sweet duty

Was but to sing,

In voices of surpassing beauty,

The wit and wisdom of their king.

The subject of the poem is the loss of reason in a beautiful girl. In figurative language, she is represented as a “fair and stately palace,” her mind as its monarch, the rightful ruler, born in the purple. Interpreting the allegory still further, the “golden banners” are her hair, and the ramparts her pale forehead. The “two luminous windows” are her eyes, and “the musically [page 9:] moving spirits” are her thoughts. The palace, glowing with pearl and ruby, becomes her mouth, through which the well-chosen words come forth, like a troop of echoes, telling of her wit and wisdom. But trouble comes, and the maiden becomes a maniac, reason and beauty perishing together: —

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,

Assailed the monarch’s high estate

(Ah, let us mourn! for never morrow

Shall dawn upon him desolate);

And round about his home the glory

That blushed and bloomed,

Is but a dim-remembered story

Of the old time entombed.


And travellers now within that valley

Through the red-litten windows see

Vast forms, that move fantastically

To a discordant melody;

While, like a ghastly rapid river,

Through the pale door

A hideous throng rush out for ever,

And laugh, — but smile no more.




The article is signed only with a delta symbol, as are a number of other articles in the journal of this period. It is obviously a kind of pseudonym, possible for one or more of the editors of the magazine. “The Delta” was the name used for the playing fields at Harvard, and perhaps the inspiration for the choice.

The carelessly tossed-off list of titles and literary references, typical of a college student showing off a bit, may be confusing to modern readers. “The Haunted Palace,” “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee” are all by Poe. “The Haunted House” was written by Thomas Hood, and “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan” are by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. (“Kubla Khan” also satisfies the reference to the “Abyssinian Maid.”) The “Woodland of Weir” is a reference to Poe’s poem “Ulalume.”


[S:1 - CHA, 1866] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - The Haunted Palace (anonymous, 1866)