Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. Killis Campbell), “The Conqueror Worm,” The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ginn and Company, 1917, pp. 105-106


[page 105, continued:]


LO! ’t is a gala night

Within the lonesome latter years!

An angel 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 formless 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 for evermore,


By a crowd that seize it not, [page 106:]

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 seraphs sob at vermin fangs

In human gore imbued.

Out — out are the lights — out all!


And, over each quivering form,


The curtain, a funeral pall,

Comes down with the rush of a storm,


While the angels, all pallid and wan,

Uprising, unveiling, affirm


That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”



And its hero the Conqueror Worm.




[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 105:]

Title Omitted in B.J. [September 27, 1845], the poem being there printed as a part of Ligeia.

8 An angel: A mystic (Graham’s, S.M., B.J. [May 24, 1845]).

13 formless: shadowy (Graham’s).

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 106:]

31 And seraphs: And the seraphs (B. J. [September 27, 1845]), And the angels (all texts save B.J. [September 27, 1845] and the Lorimer Graham copy of 1845).

34 quivering: dying (Graham’s).

37 While: And (all texts save the Lorimer Graham copy); angels: seraphs (Graham’s); pallid: haggard (Graham’s).

40 And: Omitted in Graham’s, S.M., B.J. [May 24, 1845] P.P.A. [1847].







[S:0 - KCP, 1917] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - The Conqueror Worm (ed. K. Campbell, 1917)