It’s #WriterCrushWednesday featuring Edgar Allan Poe

We all know the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, but it seems only apropos to highlight him and two of his lesser-known (and not-so-often-taught) “haunted’ poems the week before Halloween.

So for today’s #wcw, I thought we’d feature “Spirits of the Dead” and “The Haunted Palace.” These poems can be practice for annotation, finding literary devices, studying how writers create mood, rhyme scheme . . . or as mentor texts for a spooky poem of the students’ own.


Spirits of the Dead




Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone—
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.




Be silent in that solitude,
   Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
   In life before thee are again
In death around thee—and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.




The night, tho’ clear, shall frown—
And the stars shall look not down
From their high thrones in the heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given—
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.




Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more—like dew-drop from the grass.




The breeze—the breath of God—is still—
And the mist upon the hill,
Shadowy—shadowy—yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token—
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!



Source: The Complete Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (1946)


The Haunted Palace


In the greenest of our valleys
   By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
   Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion,
   It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
   Over fabric half so fair!


Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
   On its roof did float and flow
(This—all this—was in the olden
   Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
   In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
   A wingèd odor went away.


Wanderers in that happy valley,
   Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically
   To a lute’s well-tunèd law,
Round about a throne where, sitting,
In state his glory well befitting,
   The ruler of the realm was seen.


And all with pearl and ruby glowing
   Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
   And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
   Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
   The wit and wisdom of their king.


But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
   Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
   Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
   That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
   Of the old time entombed.


And travellers, now, within that valley,
   Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
   To a discordant melody;
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
   Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
   And laugh—but smile no more.


Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)


Since many of us already know Poe’s basic biography, I thought I’d highlight the Edgar Allan Poe House that it just over the bridge in Philadelphia.  The Edgar Allan Poe House is a National Historic Site located at 532 North 7th Street, just off of Spring Garden. This is just one of the homes in which Poe lived during his time in Philadelphia, which were some of his most prolific years. He wrote many of his well-known works in Philadelphia, including “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Murders of Rue Morgue.”  It is free to visit and is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 5 pm.

Here are a few pictures from the website:

poe hosue poe house 2 poe house

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