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


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[page 105, continued:]

THE CONQUEROR WORM   [[v]]

LO! ’t is a gala night

Within the lonesome latter years!

An angel throng, bewinged, bedight

In veils, and drowned in tears,

5

Sit in a theatre, to see

A play of hopes and fears,

While the orchestra breathes fitfully

[[v]]

The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,

10

Mutter and mumble low,

And hither and thither fly —

Mere puppets they, who come and go

[[v]]

At bidding of vast formless things

That shift the scenery to and fro,

15

[[n]]

Flapping from out their Condor wings

[[n]]

Invisible Wo!

That motley drama — oh, be sure

It shall not be forgot!

With its Phantom chased for evermore,

20

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.

25

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

30

The mimes become its food,

[[v]]

And seraphs sob at vermin fangs

In human gore imbued.

Out — out are the lights — out all!

[[v]]

And, over each quivering form,

35

The curtain, a funeral pall,

Comes down with the rush of a storm,

[[v]]

While the angels, all pallid and wan,

Uprising, unveiling, affirm

[[n]]

That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”

40

[[v]]

And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

(1843)

 


[[Variants]]

[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].

 


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Notes:

None.

 

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