The City in the Sea

Original Text: 
Edgar A. Poe, The Raven and Other Poems (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845): 21-22 (J. Lorimer Graham copy in the Miriam Lutcher Stark Library, University of Texas). Facsimile edition by Thomas Ollive Mabbott (Facsimile Text Society, 1942).
3Far down within the dim West,
4Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
5Have gone to their eternal rest.
6There shrines and palaces and towers
7(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
8Resemble nothing that is ours.
9Around, by lifting winds forgot,
10Resignedly beneath the sky
11The melancholy waters lie.
12No rays from the holy heaven come down
13On the long night-time of that town;
14But light from out the lurid sea
15Streams up the turrets silently--
16Gleams up the pinnacles far and free--
17Up domes--up spires--up kingly halls--
19Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
20Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers--
21Up many and many a marvellous shrine
22Whose wreathéd friezes intertwine
23The viol, the violet, and the vine.
24Resignedly beneath the sky
25The melancholy waters lie.
26So blend the turrets and shadows there
27That all seem pendulous in air,
28While from a proud tower in the town
29Death looks gigantically down.
30There open fanes and gaping graves
31Yawn level with the luminous waves;
32But not the riches there that lie
33In each idol's diamond eye--
34Not the gaily-jewelled dead
35Tempt the waters from their bed;
36For no ripples curl, alas!
37Along that wilderness of glass--
38No swellings tell that winds may be
39Upon some far-off happier sea--
40No heavings hint that winds have been
41On seas less hideously serene.
42But lo, a stir is in the air!
43The wave--there is a movement there!
44As if the towers had thrust aside,
45In slightly sinking, the dull tide--
46As if their tops had feebly given
47A void within the filmy Heaven.
48The waves have now a redder glow--
49The hours are breathing faint and low--
50And when, amid no earthly moans,
52Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
53Shall do it reverence.


1] See Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Thomas Ollive Mabbott (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969), I, 196-204, for a scholarly edition, heavily annotated, that gives two versions of the poem: the first, titled "The Doomed City" (from the 1831 edition), and the second (as above, from the 1845 edition). Back to Line
2] a strange city: identified by Mabbott as the ruins of Biblical Gomorrah on the Red Sea (cf. line 48), but this association is at odds with the location, "within the dim West" (3). Back to Line
18] Babylon-like walls: ancient Chaldee city on the Euphrates, the capital of Nebuchadnezzar and the doomed city of the book of Revelation (17). Back to Line
51] hence,: "hence." in 1845, but corrected in the 1850 edition, Works (1850), II: 35-36. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
(as "The Doomed City"). PS 2609 A1 1845A ROBA
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2.0.