Edgar Allan Poe
Dicebant mihi sodales, si sepulchrum amicae visitarem, curas meas aliquantulum forelevatas.
Misery is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide
horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch - as distinct too, yet as
intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from beauty I
have derived a type of unloveliness? - from the covenant of peace, a simile of sorrow? But as, in
ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of
past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are, have their origin in the ecstasies
which might have been .
My baptismal name is Egaeus; that of my family I will not mention. Yet there are no
towers in the land more time-honored than my gloomy, gray, hereditary halls. Our line has been
called a race of visionaries; and in many striking particulars - in the character of the family
mansion - in the frescos of the chief saloon - in the tapestries of the dormitories - in the chiselling
of some buttresses in the armory - but more especially in the gallery of antique paintings - in the
fashion of the library chamber - and, lastly, in the very peculiar nature of the library's contents -
there is more than sufficient evidence to warrant the belief.
The recollections of my earliest years are connected with that chamber, and with its
volumes - of which latter I will say no more. Here died my mother. Herein was I born. But it is
mere idleness to say that I had not lived before - that the soul has no previous existence. You
deny it? - let us not argue the matter. Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. There is,
however, a remembrance of aerial forms - of spiritual and meaning eyes - of sounds, musical yet
sad - a remembrance which will not be excluded; a memory like a shadow - vague, variable,
indefinite, unsteady; and like a shadow, too, in the impossibility of my getting rid of it while the
sunlight of my reason shall exist.
In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking from the long night of what seemed, but was
not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of fairy land - into a palace of imagination - into the
wild dominions of monastic thought and erudition - it is not singular that I gazed around me with
a startled and ardent eye - that I loitered away my boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in
reverie; but it is singular that as years rolled away, and the noon of manhood found me still in the
mansion of my fathers - it is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life -
wonderful how total an inversion took place in the character of my commonest thought. The
realities of the world affected me as visions, and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land
of dreams became, in turn, not the material of my every-day existence, but in very deed that
existence utterly and solely in itself.
Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together in my paternal halls. Yet