The narrator-protagonist recalls with obsessive longing the nature of the love that he felt for Ligeia, his first wife, who has died. Her beauty had about it the strange attractiveness of antiquity. She had the radiance of a Delian Muse; her hair was Homerically “hyacinthine” in color, her nose Hebraically aquiline. Her eyes were those of the black-eyed houri, nymphs of the Muslim paradise; they were the twin stars Castor and Pollux and shone like the truth at the bottom of Democritus’s proverbial well. They recalled the timeless change found in the contemplation of a moth, a butterfly, a chrysalis, running water.
Ligeia’s physical presence had an equally strange beauty. Her outward calm complemented an inner intensity in thought, action, and volition. Her intellect was as profound as her beauty. She knew well all the physical and mathematical sciences, was gifted in the classical and the modern languages. Still, Ligeia’s immense and varied gifts could not vanquish death, the “Conqueror Worm” whose arrival Ligeia anticipated in the poem she had written shortly before her death.
The narrator records his lonely destitution of spirit after Ligeia’s death. In an attempt to forget, he changes his castle on the Rhine for an equally desolate abbey in a remote and unpopulated area of England. He takes a new bride, the fair-haired, blue-eyed Rowena, a woman of a noble but haughty family. Their bridal chamber is an elaborate, octagonal turret of the abbey, semi-Gothic and semi-Druidical. Its furniture is massive, and the heavy canopy over the bridal couch seems to...
(The entire section is 651 words.)