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Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!—a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear?—weep now or nevermore!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read—the funeral song be sung!—
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young—
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.
“Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her—that she died!
How shall the ritual, then, be read?—the requiem how be sung
By you—by yours, the evil eye,—by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?”
Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride—
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes
The life still there, upon her hair—the death upon her eyes.
“Avaunt! avaunt! from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven—
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven—
From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven!
Let no bell toll, then,—lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth!
And I!—to-night my heart is light!—no dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!”
Source: The Best of Poe: Literary Touchstone Classic, ©2005 Prestwick House. All Rights Reserved. Full copyright.
Stygian river – refers to Styx, one of the five rivers that ow in the underworld in Greek mythology. Styx is the river that the gods swore unbreakable oaths to. The other four are Acheron, Lethe, Cocytus, and Phlegethon. Acheron surrounds Hades; Lethe represents the forgetting of the past and all earthly things; Cocytus was formed from the tears of sorrow; and Phlegethon is the river of fire.
Guy De Vere – a minor English nobleman in the 13th century; it could, however, merely be a name Poe chose to rhyme with tear.
bier – a stand that holds a coffin
requiem – a musical piece for the dead
Peccavimus – [Latin] “We have sinned.”
debonair – light-hearted
avaunt – leave, go away
waft – to float on a breeze
Paean – a song of praise