Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Opowiadania Edgara Allana Poe w wersji do nauki angielskiego - Edgar Allan Poe, Marta Fihel, Dariusz Jemielniak - ebook
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CZYTAJ - SŁUCHAJ - ĆWICZ
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Groza, horror i fantasy, czyli jak miło i przyjemnie doskonalić swój angielski
Edgar Allan Poe jest uważany za jednego z prekursorów powieści grozy, horroru, ale także science-fiction i fantasy oraz powieści detektywistycznej. Jedna z kluczowych postaci amerykańskiego romantyzmu - stworzył podwaliny współczesnej kultury popularnej. Większość jego wczesnej twórczości wpisuje się w nurt literatury gotyckiej. Po sukcesie w USA stał się znany także w Europie, a to za sprawą doskonałych przekładów jego wierszy autorstwa Charlesa Baudelaire’a. Z kolei postać C. Auguste’a Dupina, detektywa-amatora z przebłyskami genialnej refleksji, wnikliwej obserwacji i zdolności wczuwania się w psychikę złoczyńcy, dała mu zasłużoną renomę ojca kryminałów.
*****
Marta Fihel – anglistka, nauczycielka z wieloletnim stażem. Współautorka książek do nauki języka angielskiego i słowników.
Prof. dr hab. Dariusz Jemielniak – wykładowca w Akademii Leona Koźmińskiego. Pracował jako tłumacz agencyjny i książkowy, współautor kilkunastu podręczników do nauki języka angielskiego, twórca największego polskiego darmowego słownika internetowego.
Grzegorz Komerski – absolwent filozofii, tłumacz, współautor książek do nauki języka angielskiego. Prowadzi blog poświęcony historii języków i etymologii.
Maciej Polak – z wykształcenia filozof, z zamiłowania historyk obyczajowości i kultury w czasach nowożytnych, prowadzi blog poświęcony historii.

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Wstęp

Edgar Allan Poe (ur. 19 stycznia 1809 roku) to autor nietuzinkowy. Uważa się go bezdyskusyjnie za jednego z prekursorów powieści grozy, horroru, ale także science fiction, fantasy i powieści detektywistycznej. Pracę pisarską zaczynał jako dziennikarz, pisząc eseje, recenzje i opowiadania dla różnych magazynów. Uznanie i sławę przyniosła mu dopiero publikacja poematu Krukw 1845 roku. Większość jego twórczości z tego okresu wpisuje się doskonale w nurt literatury gotyckiej. Lubował się w tematach związanych ze śmiertelnością, rozkładem, poruszał także kwestie np. pochowania żywcem – co nawet teraz nie jest tematem lekkim, a wówczas uchodziło za zdecydowanie ekstrawaganckie. Późniejsze dokonania H.P. Lovecrafta bezpośrednio czerpią z kierunku, jaki wyznaczył Poe.

Był jedną z kluczowych postaci amerykańskiego romantyzmu, o ile jednak nasz rodzimy Mickiewicz koncentrował się na rozważaniach patriotycznych i miłosnych, o tyle Poe stworzył podwaliny współczesnej kultury popularnej.

Po sukcesie w USA szybko stał się znany także w Europie, a to za sprawą doskonałych przekładów jego wierszy autorstwa Charlesa Baudelaire’a. Z kolei postać C. Auguste’a Dupina, detektywa-amatora z przebłyskami genialnej refleksji, wnikliwej obserwacji i zdolności wczuwania się w psychikę złoczyńcy, dała mu zasłużoną renomę ojca kryminałów – odwoływał się do niego z uznaniem i należną estymą choćby Arthur Conan Doyle (twórca Sherlocka Holmesa, którego opowiadania dostępne są w jednej z części naszej książkowej serii). Wyrazem przekornego hołdu dla Edgara Allana Poe mogą być słowa Sherlocka Holmesa z opowiadania Studium w szkarłacie (1887), który, w odpowiedzi na porównanie go do Dupina, odpowiada:

„Bez wątpienia sądzisz, że to dla mnie komplement… W mojej opinii jednak Dupin był zdecydowanie podrzędną osobą. Bez wątpienia, obdarzoną pewnym geniuszem analitycznym, ale z pewnością nie tak wielkim fenomenem, jak pragnąłby tego Poe”.

Tego rodzaju puszczenie oka do Czytelnika i z trudem ukrywana zazdrość detektywa z Baker Street są wyraźnym sygnałem uznania. Dupinem inspirowała się także Agatha Christie. Opowiadania jak np. The Purloined Letter czyThe Murders in the Rue Morgue weszły do klasyki gatunku. Czytając je, w ramach prezentowanego zbioru, łatwo mogą Państwo dostrzec, że postaci znane ze współczesnych seriali i książek kryminalnych znajdują bezpośrednią inspirację w bohaterze stworzonym przez Edgara Allana Poe.

Jako ciekawostkę warto podać, że był jednym z pierwszych Amerykanów, którzy utrzymywali się z pracy pisarskiej. Ponieważ w ówczesnych czasach było to zdecydowanie rzadkością, a honoraria autorskie, podobnie jak nakłady, były dość niskie, Poe przez większość życia z trudem wiązał koniec z końcem. Do biedy był jednak przywykły: jako sierota wychowywana przez życzliwą, ale również ubogą rodzinę, nie mógł liczyć na dobrą edukację. Ze studiów musiał zrezygnować po pierwszym semestrze z braku środków. Zaciągnął się też do wojska, żeby mieć z czego żyć. Ciężko chorował na wiele różnych dolegliwości, cierpiał także na chorobę alkoholową. Trudno wyrokować, jaki wpływ te doświadczenia mogły mieć na jego twórczość, ale zdecydowanie jest ona także mroczna i ponura. Pouczająca, a nie ponura, jest natomiast z pewnością nauka języka angielskiego za pomocą prezentowanego zbioru opowiadań. Serdecznie zachęcamy do lektury – już za kilka miesięcy zaprezentujemy kolejną pozycję!

Opracowany przez nas podręcznik oparty na oryginalnym tekście opowiadań został skonstruowany według przejrzystego schematu.

Na

marginesach tekstu podano

objaśnienia

trudniejszych

wyrazów.

Każdy rozdział

jest

zakończony krótkim testem sprawdzającym stopień

rozumienia tekstu

.

Zawarty

po każdym rozdziale dział

O słowach

jest

poświęcony poszerzeniu słownictwa z danej dziedziny, wyrazom kłopotliwym (

false

friends

), wyrazom

wieloznacznym, słowotwórstwu oraz wyrażeniom idiomatycznym.

W dziale

poświęconym

gramatyce

omówiono

wybrane

zagadnienie gramatyczne, ilustrowane fragmentem rozdziału.

Dla

dociekliwych został również opracowany komentarz do wybranych tematów związanych z 

kulturą i historią.

Różnorodne ćwiczenia pozwolą Czytelnikowi powtórzyć i sprawdzić omówione w podręczniku zagadnienia leksykalne i gramatyczne. Alfabetyczny wykaz wyrazów objaśnianych na marginesie tekstu znajduje się w słowniczku. Odpowiedzi do wszystkich zadań zamkniętych są podane w kluczu na końcu książki.

1 THE BLACK CAT 

SŁOWNICTWO

For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not—and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified—have tortured—have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but Horror—to many they will seem less terrible than barroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common-place—some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.

From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. Thispeculiarity of character grew with my growth, and in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification thusderivable. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamerfidelity of mere Man.

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We had birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat.

This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree. In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise. Not that she was ever serious upon this point—and I mention the matter at all for no better reason than that it happens, just now, to be remembered.

Pluto—this was the cat’s name—was my favorite pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended me wherever I went about the house. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets.

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which my general temperament and character—through the instrumentality of the FiendIntemperance—had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, I stillretained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way. But my disease grew upon me—for what disease is like Alcohol!—and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhatpeevish—even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper.

One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body and a more than fiendishmalevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen--knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnableatrocity.

When reason returned with the morning—when I had slept off the fumes of the night’s debauch—I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched. I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all memory of the deed.

In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved me. But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as if to my final and irrevocableoverthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart—one of the indivisibleprimaryfaculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetualinclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself—to offer violence to its own nature—to do wrong for the wrong’s sake only—that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree;—hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart;—hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence;—hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin—a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it—if such a thing wore possible—even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.

On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration. The destruction was complete. My entire worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myselfthenceforward to despair.

I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity. But I am detailing a chain of facts—and wish not to leave even a possible link imperfect. On the day succeeding the fire, I visited the ruins. The walls, with one exception, had fallen in. This exception was found in a compartment wall, not very thick, which stood about the middle of the house, and against which had rested the head of my bed. The plastering had here, in great measure, resisted the action of the fire—a fact which I attributed to its having been recently spread. About this wall a dense crowd were collected, and many persons seemed to be examining a particular portion of it with very minute and eager attention. The words “strange!” “singular!” and other similar expressions, excited my curiosity. I approached and saw, as if graven in bas-relief upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat. The impression was given with an accuracy truly marvellous. There was a rope about the animal’s neck.

When I first beheld thisapparition—for I could scarcely regard it as less—my wonder and my terror were extreme. But at length reflection came to my aid. The cat, I remembered, had been hung in a garden adjacent to the house. Upon the alarm of fire, this garden had been immediately filled by the crowd—by some one of whom the animal must have been cut from the tree and thrown, through an open window, into my chamber. This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep. The falling of other walls had compressed the victim of my cruelty into the substance of the freshly-spread plaster; the lime of which, with the flames, and the ammonia from the carcass, had then accomplished theportraiture as I saw it.

Although I thus readily accounted to my reason, if not altogether to my conscience, for the startling fact just detailed, it did not the less fail to make a deep impression upon my fancy. For months I could not rid myself of the phantasm of the cat; and, during this period, there came back into my spirit a half-sentiment that seemed, but was not, remorse. I went so far as to regret the loss of the animal, and to look about me, among the vile haunts which I now habitually frequented, for another pet of the same species, and of somewhat similar appearance, with which to supply its place.

One night as I sat, half stupified, in a den of more than infamy, my attention was suddenly drawn to some black object, reposing upon the head of one of the immense hogsheads of Gin, or of Rum, which constituted the chief furniture of the apartment. I had been looking steadily at the top of this hogshead for some minutes, and what now caused me surprise was the fact that I had not sooner perceived the object thereupon. I approached it, and touched it with my hand. It was a black cat—a very large one—fully as large as Pluto, and closely resembling him in every respect but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although indefinitesplotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast. Upon my touching him, he immediately arose, purred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared delighted with my notice. This, then, was the very creature of which I was in search. I at once offered to purchase it of the landlord; but this person made no claim to it—knew nothing of it—had never seen it before.

I continued my caresses, and, when I prepared to go home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. I permitted it to do so; occasionally stooping and patting it as I proceeded. When it reached the house it domesticated itself at once, and became immediately a great favorite with my wife.

For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising within me. This was just the reverse of what I had anticipated; but—I know not how or why it was—its evident fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed. By slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but gradually—very gradually—I came to look upon it with unutterableloathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.

What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to my wife, who, as I have already said, possessed, in a high degree, that humanity of feeling which had once been my distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest and purest pleasures.

With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase. It followed my footsteps with a pertinacity which it would be difficult to make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch beneath my chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me with its loathsome caresses. If I arose to walk it would get between my feet and thus nearly throw me down, or, fastening its long and sharp claws in my dress, clamber, in this manner, to my breast. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly—let me confess it at once—by absolute dread of the beast.

This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil—and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. I am almost ashamed to own—yes, even in this felon’s cell, I am almost ashamed to own—that the terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest chimaeras it would be possible to conceive. My wife had called my attention, more than once, to the character of the mark of white hair, of which I have spoken, and which constituted the sole visible difference between the strange beast and the one I had destroyed. The reader will remember that this mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite; but, by slow degrees—degrees nearly imperceptible, and which for a long time my Reason struggled to reject as fanciful—it had, at length, assumed a rigorousdistinctness of outline. It was now the representation of an object that I shudder to name—and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared—it was now, I say, the image of a hideous—of a ghastly thing—of the GALLOWS!—oh, mournful and terrible engine of Horror and of Crime—of Agony and of Death!

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere Humanity. And a brute beast —whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed—a brute beast to work out for me—for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God—so much of insufferablewoe! Alas! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of Rest any more! During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight—an incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off—incumbent eternally upon my heart!

Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates—the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! was the most usual and the most patient of sufferers.

One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan.

This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body. I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors. Many projects entered my mind. At one period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire. At another, I resolved to dig a grave for it in the floor of the cellar. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well in the yard—about packing it in a box, as if merchandize, with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter to take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I considered a far better expedient than either of these. I determined to wall it up in the cellar—as the monks of the middle ages are recorded to have walled up their victims.

For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening. Moreover, in one of the walls was a projection, caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, that had been filled up, and made to resemble the red of the cellar. I made no doubt that I could readily displace the bricks at this point, insert the corpse, and wall the whole up as before, so that no eye could detect any thing suspicious. And in this calculation I was not deceived. By means of a crow-bar I easilydislodged the bricks, and, having carefully deposited the body against the inner wall, I propped it in that position, while, with little trouble, I re-laid the whole structure as it originally stood. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster which could not be distinguished from the old, and with this I very carefully went over the new brickwork. When I had finished, I felt satisfied that all was right. The wall did not present the slightest appearance of having been disturbed. The rubbish on the floor was picked up with the minutest care. I looked around triumphantly, and said to myself—”Here at least, then, my labor has not been in vain.”

My next step was to look for the beast which had been the cause of so much wretchedness; for I had, at length, firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been able to meet with it, at the moment, there could have been no doubt of its fate; but it appeared that the crafty animal had been alarmed at the violence of my previous anger, and forebore to present itself in my present mood. It is impossible to describe, or to imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my bosom. It did not make its appearance during the night—and thus for one night at least, since its introduction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul!

The second and the third day passed, and still my tormentor came not. Once again I breathed as a freeman. The monster, in terror, had fled the premises forever! I should behold it no more! My happiness was supreme! The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little. Some few inquiries had been made, but these had been readily answered. Even a search had been instituted—but of course nothing was to be discovered. I looked upon my future felicity as secured.

Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, and proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of the premises. Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever. The officers bade me accompany them in their search. They left no nook or corner unexplored. At length, for the third or fourth time, they descended into the cellar. I quivered not in a muscle. My heart beat calmly as that of one who slumbers in innocence. I walked the cellar from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and roamed easily to and fro. The police were thoroughly satisfied and prepared to depart. The glee at my heart was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance of my guiltlessness.

“Gentlemen,” I said at last, as the party ascended the steps, “I delight to have allayed your suspicions. I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this—this is a very well constructed house.” [In the rabid desire to say something easily, I scarcely knew what I uttered at all.]—“I may say an excellently well constructed house. These walls—are you going, gentlemen?—these walls are solidly put together;” and here, through the mere phrenzy of bravado, I rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand, upon that very portion of the brick-work behind which stood the corpse of the wife of my bosom.

But may God shield anddeliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb!—by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterlyanomalous and inhuman—a howl—a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the dammed in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation.

Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. Swooning, I staggered to the opposite wall. For one instant the party upon the stairs remained motionless, through extremity of terror and of awe. In the next, a dozen stout arms were toiling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already greatly decayed andclotted withgore, stooderect before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. I had walled the monster up within the tomb!

Rozumienie tekstu

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Zaznacz zdania prawdziwe literą T (true), a fałszywe – literą F (false).

1. The narrator was a good-natured person as a child.

2. The narrator’s parents tried to fulfill all his wishes, so they gave him many pets.

3. The narrator’s wife believed in superstitions concerning black cats.

4. The cat found in a den soon began to annoy his master.

5. The narrator was calm when the police arrived.

O słowach

MINUTE

„(…) Many persons seemed to be examining a particular portion of it with very minute and eager attention.”

Przymiotnik minute [maɪˈnjuːt] to nie tylko, jak w powyższym cytacie, drobiazgowy, szczegółowy, dokładny. Oznacza również maleńki, miskroskopijny, znikomy.

Rzeczownik minute [ˈmɪnɪt] to oczywiście minuta, a w liczbie mnogiej (minutes) również protokół. Czasownik minute oznacza protokołować.

Gramatyka

DO SO/IT/THAT

„(…) The animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. I permitted it to do so.”

Do so/it/that używamy, aby uniknąć powtórzenia czasownika i jego dopełnienia, np.:

Mike asked me if I could help him, and I promised to do so.

Mike spytał mnie, czy mógłbym mu pomóc i obiecałem to zrobić.

Do so/it/that odnosi się do czynności intencjonalnych – nie zastępuje na ogół czasowników opisujących akcje i stany niezależne od naszej woli, jak np. feel, lose, think itd. Porównaj przykłady:

Andrew has finally proposed to Mary. I thought he’d never do it!

Andrew w końcu oświadczył się Mary. Myślałem, że nigdy tego nie zrobi!

Sheila denied feeling disappointed, but I knew she did. (nie:did so)

Sheila zaprzeczyła, jakoby czuła zawód, ale wiedziałem, że czuje.

Użycie samego do lub do w połączeniu z it/that, ale nie so, jest również bardziej właściwe w sytuacjach, kiedy opisywana przez czasownik czynność odnosi się do tej samej osoby. Porównaj przykłady:

I told Kelly to pull in and she did so.

Powiedziałem Kelly, żeby zjechała na bok i zrobiła to.

My daughter usually eats porridge in the morning, but I hardly ever do.

Moja córka zazwyczaj rano je owsiankę, ale ja prawie nigdy.

Jim can’t book the rooms – shall I do it?

Jim nie może zabukować pokojów – czy ja mam to zrobić?

Kultura i historia

ZAMUROWANIE ŻYWCEM

Trudno jednoznacznie zawyrokować, kiedy dokładnie ludzie wpadli na pomysł zamurowywania żywcem jednostek w jakiś sposób niewygodnych. Trop urywa się w średniowieczu. Ludowy folklor dostarcza wiele legend o dzieciach zamurowanych w fundamentach domów, sklepieniach mostów, murach zamczysk. Duch-opiekun poświęconego człowieka ma wedle wierzeń chronić budowlę. Zamurowanie żywcem bywało karą za cudzołóstwo w dawnym świecie islamu i w świecie chrześcijańskim. Znane są mity o lubieżnych księżach i zakonnicach zamurowanych w ścianach klasztorów – ponoć u Cystersów w Wąchocku „kapitularz służył za więzienie dla obwinionych zakonników, a według podania jeden z tych nieszczęśliwych był tu niegdyś żywcem zamurowany. Powiadają nawet, iż winą jego była miłość i romans zbyt głośno prowadzony” (Biblioteka warszawska, Warszawa 1851, tom 4, s. 420). William Rule w swojej opublikowanej w 1871 roku Historii Inkwizycji opisuje mnicha Tommaso Fabiano di Mileto zamurowanego przez inkwizycję w 1564 roku, przytaczając przy tym świadectwa świadków, którzy ponoć wielokrotnie widzieli ludzkie kości w klasztorach Sewilli.

Zamurowanie jako konsekwencja niegodnych czynów nie omijało i wyżej postawionych. Przez długi czas utrzymywał się sąd, iż za swe okrutne zbrodnie Elżbieta Batory (1560–1614) została zamurowana żywcem w swym zamku; faktem jest, że wyrok sądu skazywał ją na pobyt do końca życia w jednej z cel, jednak „zamurowanej” miano podawać jedzenie. Elżbieta zmarła niedługo po procesie. Wcześniej podobne plotki rozniosły się na temat króla Ryszarda II (1367–1400), więzionego na zamku Pontefract po pokonaniu go przez Henryka Bolingbroke.

Pewna pieśń gruzińska przechowała ostatnie chwile chłopca, syna ubogiej wdowy, zamurowywanego w murze wznoszonego zamku Suram dla zapewnienia mu powodzenia w budowie. Do literatury wprowadził ją i rozpowszechnił Daniel Chonkadze (1830–1860), badacz folkloru gruzińskiego. Słowa pieśni przytaczano w różnych wersjach – oto jedna z nich:

„Jak ci, syneczku mój, czyś żyw?… Mateńku, mur mam po kolana.

Jak ci, syneczku mój, czyś zdrów? Ach matko, matko ukochana,

syneczek twój zdrów i żyje, ale mur po pas, po szyje,

już po ramiona, już do skroni, za chwilkę świat mi mur zasłoni…”

(„Gwiazdka Cieszyńska: pismo naukowe i zabawne” R. 42, nr 13, 30 marca 1889).

Podobna węgierska legenda o dwunastu murarzach, którzy dla zapewnienia trwałości stawianego muru twierdzy zdecydowali, iż poświęcą narzeczoną jednego z nich, tę, która pierwsza przyniesie im wodę bądź posiłek, również doczekała się wielu adaptacji. Takie opowieści wspólne były folklorowi wielu stron świata.

Zdawać by się mogło, że na progu współczesności praktyki takie od dawna są jedynie makabrycznym wspomnieniem minionych, bezdusznych obyczajów. Jednak jeszcze w XIX wieku o podobnych zdarzeniach sporadycznie donosiła prasa. „Angielskie gazety z Kalkuty z d.15 listop. donosząc o różnych interesujących przypadkach, opisują czyn okrutny brata Księcia Nizam. Odkrył on jakąś zbrodnię jednej z swych żon i kazał ją żywcem zamurować, a nią i siedem niewolnic; w murze zostawił otwór mały, ażeby się przypatrywać konaniu. Próżne były prośby krewnych, dopiero wojska angielskie biedaczkę pół martwą uwolniły” („Gazeta Codzienna”, nr 18, 19 stycznia 1848). Podobne przypadki miały miejsce i w naszych stronach. W 1897 roku głośno było o dziwacznej, bytującej w Rosji sekcie Biegunów, której członkowie dobrowolnie zamurowywali się wzajemnie w piwnicach albo zakopywali w grobach. W sumie na „piękną śmierć” przystało 27 osób (Słowo R.16, nr 140, 24 czerwca 1897). Szerokim echem odbiła się także gorsząca historia uwolnionej w 1869 roku Barbary Ubryk, chorej psychicznie zakonnicy, którą trzymano przez ponad 20 lat w krakowskim klasztorze karmelitanek, w małej celi z zamurowanym oknem i niewielkim otworem do podawania pożywienia.

Ćwiczenia

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1. Połącz wyrazy (1–10) z ich synonimami i definicjami (A–J).

1) alteration

2) conceive

3) conspicuous

4) fidelity

5) notion

6) peevish

7) retain

8) sagacious

9) succinctly

10) toil

A) to work hard

B) briefly and clearly

C) easy to see

D) wise

E) faithfulness

F) an idea

G) a change

H) to keep

I) irritable, easily annoyed

J) to make up, to plan

2. Uzupełnij zdania wyrazami z ramki w odpowiedniej formie.

accuracy; caress; contemptuously; gallows; inflict; resist; resolve; urge

a) Henry gently…………… the body of his lover as she was beginning to wake.

b) These criminals can …………… serious injury.

c) She …………… her children to exit the house and followed them immediately.

d) Such a temptation I can’t ……………!

e) If the research has been done with utmost ……………, where do the errors result from?

f) If we were living in the 18th century, such people would end up on the …………….

g) The winner snorted …………… at the sight of his competitors.

h) I’ve …………… to change my life style completely.

3. Wybierz właściwą formę lub wyraz.

 

a) Josh had never considered losing his precious watch until he finally did it/did. What a carefree person he is!

b) There’s plenty of letters that should be sent by 4 p.m. Who will do it/do?

c) I was at/in a loss what to do next.

d) The head mistress asked us to admit damaging the computer, but we refused to do/do so.

e) I asked my sister to send me the details, but apparently she forgot to do/do that.

f) They say the murderer acted in/with cool blood.

4. Zgromadź informacje dotyczące życia i utworów Edgara A. Poe. Przygotuj prezentację multimedialną poświęconą jego biografii i twórczości (około 10 slajdów).

2 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER

SŁOWNICTWO

Son coeur est un luth suspendu;

Sitôt qu’on le touche il rèsonne.[1]

De Béranger

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few ranksedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium—the bitter lapse into everyday life—the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth. It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression; and, acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and luridtarn that lay in unruffledlustre by the dwelling, and gazed down—but with a shudder even more thrilling than before—upon the remodelled and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows.

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks. Its proprietor, Roderick Usher, had been one of my boon companions in boyhood; but many years had elapsed since our last meeting. A letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant part of the country—a letter from him—which, in its wildly importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a personal reply. The MS. gave evidence of nervous agitation. The writer spoke of acute bodily illness—of a mental disorder which oppressed him—and of an earnest desire to see me, as his best, and indeed his only personal friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness of my society, some alleviation of his malady. It was the manner in which all this, and much more, was said—it was the apparent heart that went with his request—which allowed me no room for hesitation; and I accordingly obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very singular summons.

Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associates, yet I really knew little of my friend. His reserve had been always excessive and habitual. I was aware, however, that his very ancient family had been noted, time out of mind, for a peculiar sensibility of temperament, displaying itself, through long ages, in many works of exalted art, and manifested, of late, in repeated deeds of munificent yet unobtrusivecharity, as well as in a passionate devotion to the intricacies, perhaps even more than to the orthodox and easily recognisable beauties, of musical science. I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain. It was this deficiency, I considered, while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other—it was this deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the consequentundeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the patrimony with the name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the “House of Usher”—an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion.

I have said that the sole effect of my somewhat childish experiment—that of looking down within the tarn—had been to deepen the first singular impression. There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition—for why should I not so term it?—served mainly to accelerate the increase itself. Such, I have long known, is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis. And it might have been for this reason only, that, when I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its image in the pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy—a fancy so ridiculous, indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of the sensations which oppressed me. I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediatevicinity—an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn—a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued.

Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity. The discoloration of ages had been great. Minute fungioverspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. Yet all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation. No portion of the masonry had fallen; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones. In this there was much that reminded me of the specious totality of old wood-work which has rotted for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturbance from the breath of the external air. Beyond this indication of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of instability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptiblefissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn.

Noticing these things, I rode over a short causeway to the house. A servant in waiting took my horse, and I entered the Gothic archway of the hall. A valet, of stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence, through many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the studio of his master. Much that I encountered on the way contributed, I know not how, to heighten the vague sentiments of which I have already spoken. While the objects around me—while the carvings of the ceilings, the sombretapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, I had been accustomed from my infancy—while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this—I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up. On one of the staircases, I met the physician of the family. His countenance, I thought, wore a mingled expression of low cunning and perplexity. He accosted me with trepidation and passed on. The valet now threw open a door and ushered me into the presence of his master.

The room in which I found myself was very large and lofty. The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within. Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellissed panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more prominent objects around; the eye, however, struggled in vain to reach the remoter angles of the chamber, or the recesses of the vaulted and fretted ceiling. Dark draperies hung upon the walls. The general furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered. Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene. I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow. An air of stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom hung over and pervaded all.

Upon my entrance, Usher arose from a sofa on which he had been lying at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality—of the constrained effort of the ennuyé man of the world. A glance, however, at his countenance, convinced me of his perfect sincerity. We sat down; and for some moments, while he spoke not, I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely, man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher! It was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the wan being before me with the companion of my early boyhood. Yet the character of his face had been at all times remarkable. A cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral energy; hair of a more than web-like softness and tenuity; these features, with an inordinate expansion above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten. And now in the mere exaggeration of the prevailing character of these features, and of the expression they were wont to convey, lay so much of change that I doubted to whom I spoke. The now ghastly pallor of the skin, and the now miraculous lustre of the eye, above all things startled and even awed me. The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated rather than fell about the face, I could not, even with effort, connect its Arabesque expression with any idea of simple humanity.

In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with an incoherence—an inconsistency; and I soon found this to arise from a series of feeble and futile struggles to overcome an habitual trepidancy—an excessive nervous agitation. For something of this nature I had indeed been prepared, no less by his letter, than by reminiscences of certain boyish traits, and by conclusions deduced from his peculiar physical conformation and temperament. His action was alternately vivacious and sullen. His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision (when the animal spirits seemed utterly in abeyance) to that species of energetic concision—that abrupt, weighty, unhurried, and hollow-sounding enunciation—that leaden, self-balanced and perfectly modulated gutturalutterance, which may be observed in the lost drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater of opium, during the periods of his most intense excitement.

It was thus that he spoke of the object of my visit, of his earnest desire to see me, and of the solace he expected me to afford him. He entered, at some length, into what he conceived to be the nature of his malady. It was, he said, a constitutional and a family evil, and one for which he despaired to find a remedy—a mere nervous affection, he immediately added, which would undoubtedly soon pass off. It displayed itself in a host of unnatural sensations. Some of these, as he detailed them, interested and bewildered me; although, perhaps, the terms, and the general manner of the narration had their weight. He suffered much from a morbidacuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odors of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror.

To an anomalous species of terror I found him a bounden slave. “I shall perish,” said he, “I must perish in this deplorable folly. Thus, thus, and not otherwise, shall I be lost. I dread the events of the future, not in themselves, but in their results. I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial, incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul. I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect—in terror. In this unnerved—in this pitiable condition—I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR.”

I learned, moreover, at intervals, and through broken and equivocal hints, another singular feature of his mental condition. He was enchained by certain superstitious impressions in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted, and whence, for many years, he had never ventured forth—in regard to an influence whose supposititious force was conveyed in terms too shadowy here to be re-stated—an influence which some peculiarities in the mere form and substance of his family mansion, had, by dint of long sufferance, he said, obtained over his spirit—an effect which the physique of the gray walls and turrets, and of the dim tarn into which they all looked down, had, at length, brought about upon the morale of his existence.

He admitted, however, although with hesitation, that much of the peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him could be traced to a more natural and far more palpable origin—to the severe and long-continued illness—indeed to the evidently approaching dissolution—of a tenderly beloved sister—his sole companion for long years—his last and only relative on earth. “Her decease,” he said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, “would leave him (him the hopeless and the frail) the last of the ancient race of the Ushers.” While he spoke, the lady Madeline (for so was she called) passed slowly through a remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed my presence, disappeared. I regarded her with an utter astonishment not unmingled with dread—and yet I found it impossible to account for such feelings. A sensation of stupor oppressed me, as my eyes followed her retreating steps. When a door, at length, closed upon her, my glance sought instinctively and eagerly the countenance of the brother—but he had buried his face in his hands, and I could only perceive that a far more than ordinary wanness had overspread the emaciated fingers through which trickled many passionate tears.

The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of her physicians. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character, were the unusual diagnosis. Hitherto she had steadily borne up against the pressure of her malady, and had not betaken herself finally to bed; but, on the closing in of the evening of my arrival at the house, she succumbed (as her brother told me at night with inexpressible agitation) to the prostrating power of the destroyer; and I learned that the glimpse I had obtained of her person would thus probably be the last I should obtain—that the lady, at least while living, would be seen by me no more.

For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned by either Usher or myself: and during this period I was busied in earnest endeavors to alleviate the melancholy of my friend. We painted and read together; or I listened, as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his speaking guitar. And thus, as a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe, in one unceasing radiation of gloom.

I shall ever bear about me a memory of the many solemn hours I thus spent alone with the master of the House of Usher. Yet I should fail in any attempt to convey an idea of the exact character of the studies, or of the occupations, in which he involved me, or led me the way. An excited and highly distempered ideality threw a sulphureous lustre over all. His long improvised dirges will ring forever in my ears. Among other things, I hold painfully in mind a certain singular perversion and amplification of the wild air of the last waltz of Von Weber. From the paintings over which his elaborate fancy brooded, and which grew, touch by touch, into vaguenesses at which I shuddered the more thrillingly, because I shuddered knowing not why;—from these paintings (vivid as their images now are before me) I would in vain endeavor to educe more than a small portion which should lie within the compass of merely written words. By the utter simplicity, by the nakedness of his designs, he arrested and overawed attention. If ever mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher. For me at least—in the circumstances then surrounding me—there arose out of the pure abstractions which the hypochondriac contrived to throw upon his canvass, an intensity of intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli.

One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be shadowed forth, although feebly, in words. A small picture presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without interruption or device. Certain accessory points of the design served well to convey the idea that this excavation lay at an exceeding depth below the surface of the earth. No outlet was observed in any portion of its vast extent, and no torch, or other artificial source of light was discernible; yet a flood of intense rays rolled throughout, and bathed the whole in a ghastly and inappropriate splendor.

I have just spoken of that morbid condition of the auditory nerve which rendered all music intolerable to the sufferer, with the exception of certain effects of stringed instruments. It was, perhaps, the narrow limits to which he thus confined himself upon the guitar, which gave birth, in great measure, to the fantastic character of his performances. But the fervidfacility of his impromptus could not be so accounted for. They must have been, and were, in the notes, as well as in the words of his wild fantasias (for he not unfrequently accompanied himself with rhymed verbal improvisations), the result of that intense mental collectedness and concentration to which I have previously alluded as observable only in particular moments of the highest artificial excitement. The words of one of these rhapsodies I have easily remembered. I was, perhaps, the more forcibly impressed with it, as he gave it, because, in the under or mystic current of its meaning, I fancied that I perceived, and for the first time, a full consciousness on the part of Usher, of the tottering of his lofty reason upon her throne. The verses, which were entitled “The Haunted Palace,” ran very nearly, if not accurately, thus:

I.

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.

II.

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 winged odor went away.

III.

Wanderers in that happy valley

Through two luminous windows saw

Spirits moving musically

To a lute’s well-tunéd law,

Round about a throne, where sitting

(Porphyrogene!)

In state his glory well befitting,

The ruler of the realm was seen.

IV.

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.

V.

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.

VI.

And travellers now within that valley,

Through the red-litten windows, see

Vast forms that move fantastically

To a discordant melody;

While, like a rapid ghastly river,

Through the pale door,

A hideous throng rush out forever,

And laugh—but smile no more.

I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad, led us into a train of thought wherein there became manifest an opinion of Usher’s which I mention not so much on account of its novelty, (for other men have thought thus,) as on account of the pertinacity with which he maintained it. This opinion, in its general form, was that of the sentience of all vegetable things. But, in his disordered fancy, the idea had assumed a more daring character, and trespassed, under certain conditions, upon the kingdom of inorganization. I lack words to express the full extent, or the earnest abandon of his persuasion. The belief, however, was connected (as I have previously hinted) with the gray stones of the home of his forefathers. The conditions of the sentience had been here, he imagined, fulfilled in the method of collocation of these stones—in the order of their arrangement, as well as in that of the many fungi which overspread them, and of the decayed trees which stood around—above all, in the long undisturbed endurance of this arrangement, and in its reduplication in the still waters of the tarn. Its evidence—the evidence of the sentience—was to be seen, he said, (and I here started as he spoke,) in the gradual yet certain condensation of an atmosphere of their own about the waters and the walls. The result was discoverable, he added, in that silent, yet importunate and terrible influence which for centuries had moulded the destinies of his family, and which made him what I now saw him—what he was. Such opinions need no comment, and I will make none.

Our books—the books which, for years, had formed no small portion of the mental existence of the invalid—were, as might be supposed, in strict keeping with this character of phantasm. We pored together over such works as the Ververt et Chartreuse of Gresset; the Belphegor of Machiavelli; the Heaven and Hell of Swedenborg; the Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by Holberg; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, of Jean D’Indaginé, and of De la Chambre; the Journey into the Blue Distance of Tieck; and the City of the Sun of Campanella. One favorite volume was a small octavo edition of the Directorium Inquisitorium, by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs and OEgipans, over which Usher would sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight, however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto Gothic—the manual of a forgotten church—the Vigiliae Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae.

I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this work, and of its probable influence upon the hypochondriac, when, one evening, having informed me abruptly that the lady Madeline was no more, he stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight, (previously to its final interment,) in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building. The worldly reason, however, assigned for this singular proceeding, was one which I did not feel at liberty to dispute. The brother had been led to his resolution (so he told me) by consideration of the unusual character of the malady of the deceased, of certain obtrusive and eager inquiries on the part of her medical men, and of the remote and exposed situation of the burial-ground of the family. I will not deny that when I called to mind the sinister countenance of the person whom I met upon the staircase, on the day of my arrival at the house, I had no desire to oppose what I regarded as at best but a harmless, and by no means an unnatural, precaution.

At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in the arrangements for the temporary entombment. The body having been encoffined, we two alone bore it to its rest. The vault in which we placed it (and which had been so long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation) was small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light; lying, at great depth, immediately beneath that portion of the building in which was my own sleeping apartment. It had been used, apparently, in remote feudal times, for the worst purposes of a donjon-keep, and, in later days, as a place of deposit for powder, or some other highly combustible substance, as a portion of its floor, and the whole interior of a long archway through which we reached it, were carefully sheathed with copper. The door, of massive iron, had been, also, similarly protected. Its immense weight caused an unusually sharp grating sound, as it moved upon its hinges.

Having deposited our mournful burden upon tressels within this region of horror, we partially turned aside the yet unscrewed lid of the coffin, and looked upon the face of the tenant. A striking similitude between the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and Usher, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words from which I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them. Our glances, however, rested not long upon the dead—for we could not regard her unawed. The disease which had thus entombed the lady in the maturity of youth, had left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly cataleptical character, the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face, and that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip which is so terrible in death. We replaced and screwed down the lid, and, having secured the door of iron, made our way, with toil