Friday, October 2, 2009

Poe Fridays: The Haunted Palace

Here we are again at Poe Friday and for this week I chose the poem The Haunted Palace. You can read it here. This is an excerpt --
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.

This poem was incorporated into the story The Fall of the House of Usher but it was previously published on its own. It's not in fact about a palace of stone but the palace of the mind. It's a happy, healthy place for a time but then "evil things" come and bring about the downfall of the "palace". This is quite a depressing poem, especially since there's not much discussion of what the malady was that brought down the mind of the man. This poem honestly just makes me feel sad.

For next week I've chosen the short story Some Words With a Mummy. I'm hoping it's scary but knowing Poe, it might be philosophical instead.

Spending time cleaning and polishing in the palace,


  1. If you want scary, you don't want "Some Words with a Mummy." It's a full-on comedy. If satire is philosophical, it's philosophical.

  2. Agree with Amateur Reader above - "Some Words With a Mummy" is a moderately funny satire (not one of my favorites) with no intention of being scary at all.

    As for "The Haunted Palace," I think that feeling of sadness you get from reading it shows that Poe was successful. He believed, after all, that the purpose of a poem was to incite emotion - whichever the author chooses. As far as the cause of the downfall of this palace, as you say, it is the human mind. Poe's literary theory presents man as a fallible creature, more subject to the negative side of human nature than the positive. There's no reason for it because it is inherent in all humanity. Hawthorne did the same thing. I agree with your response, though!

  3. Amateur Reader - Yes, satire is always another option with Poe. It's been a long time since I last read some of these!

    Rob - I think as far as the "downfall", I was more curious if it was melancholy or madness or even the infirmity of age. You don't get a sense of how long things were happy and how much time the "king" was able to enjoy before his mind turned dark.

  4. I've read and reviewed The Fall of the House of Usher and loved it!

  5. I've not read much Poe beyond The Raven and The Telltale Heart, but I liked the bit of the poem you included, so maybe I can add some Poe to my RIP challenge list.

  6. Jane - I would recommend going beyond the traditional Poe because there is just such a great variety in his writing. Of course, if you're doing it for the RIP challenge then he has some great stories for that as well!