Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. Killis Campbell), “The City in the Sea,” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. 59-62


[page 59:]

THE CITY IN THE SEA   [[n]]   [[v]]


Lo! Death has reared himself a throne


In a strange city lying alone


Far down within the dim West,



Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best


Have gone to their eternal rest. [page 60:]

There shrines and palaces and towers


(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)


Resemble nothing that is ours.


Around, by lifting winds forgot,


Resignedly beneath the sky


The melancholy waters lie.



No rays from the holy heaven come down

On the long night-time of that town;


But light from out the lurid sea


Streams up the turrets silently —


Gleams up the pinnacles far and free —


Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —


Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —


Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers


Of scultured ivy and stone flowers —


Up many and many a marvellous shrine [page 61:]


Whose wreathed friezes intertwine



The viol, the violet, and the vine.


Resignedly beneath the sky



The melancholy waters lie.

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in air,


While from a proud tower in the town

Death looks gigantically down.



There open fanes and gaping graves


Yawn level with the luminous waves;

But not the riches there that lie

In each idol's diamond eye —

Not the gaily-jewelled dead


Tempt the waters from their bed;

For no ripples curl, alas!


Along that wilderness of glass —


No swellings tell that winds may be



Upon some far-off happier sea — [page 62:]



No heavings hint that winds have been


On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!


The wave — there is a movement there!


As if the towers had thrown aside,


In slightly sinking, the dull tide —


As if their tops had feebly given


A void within the filmy Heaven.

The waves have now a redder glow —



The hours are breathing faint and low —



And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence,



Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,


Shall do it reverence.




[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 59:]

Title The Doomed City (1831), The City of Sin (S. L. M.), The City in the Sea. A Prophecy (A. W. R.).

1 has: hath (1831).

2 lying: all (1831, S. L. M.).

3 Far off in a region unblest (A. W. R.).

4 Where: And (1831).

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 60:]

7 Transposed to precede line 9 (1831, S. L. M.).

8 Are — not like anything of ours (1831, S. L. M.). After this line, 1831 and S. L. M. insert the following:

O! no — O! no — ours never loom

To heaven with that ungodly gloom!

11 After this line, 1831 inserts the following:

A heaven that God doth not contemn

With stars is like a diadem —

We liken our ladies’ eyes to them —

But there! that everlasting pall!

It would be mockery to call

Such dreariness a heaven at all.

12 Yet tho’ no holy rays come down (1831); No holy rays from heaven come down (S. L. M.).

14 Light from the lurid, deep sea (1831).

16 Omitted in 1831 and S. L. M.

17, 18 Transposed to follow line 20 in 1831 and S. L. M.

19 shadowy: thrones — up (1831, S. L. M.).

21 and many a marvellous: a melancholy (1831, S. L. M.).

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 61:]

22 wreathed friezes: entablatures (1831, S. L. M.).

23 For this line, 1831 and S. L. M. substitute the following:

The mask — the viol — and the vine.

24, 25 Omitted in 1831 and S. L. M.

25 The melancholy: Around the mournful (A. W. R.).

28-29 Transposed to follow line 39 (1831, S. L. M.).

28 a proud tower in: the high towers of (1831, S. L. M.).

28-35 Omitted in A. W. R.

30 fanes and gaping: temples — open (1831, S. L. M.).

31 For this line, 1831 and S. L. M. substitute the following:

Are on a level with the waves.

38 For no: No murmuring (A. W. R.).

38 tell: hint (1831, S. L. M.).

39 some: a (1831, S. L. M., A. W. R.).

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 62:]

40, 41 Omitted in 1831 and S. L. M.

41 For this line, A. W. R. substitutes the following:

On oceans not so sad-serene.

43 movement: ripple (1831, S. L. M.).

44 thrust: thrown (1831, S. L. M.).

46 For this line, 1831 and S.L.M. substitute the following:

As if the turret-tops had given.

47 void within: vacuum in (1831, S. L. M.).

49 The very hours are breathing low (1831, S. L. M.).

52 Hell, rising: All Hades (S. L. M.).

53 1831 and S. L. M. add the following:

And Death to some more happy clime

Shall give his undivided time.







[S:0 - KCP, 1917] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - The City in the Sea (ed. K. Campbell, 1917)