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Prologue (Ligeia) - text

[Young Poe]:
In the science of the mind there is no point
More thrilling than to notice which I never noticed in schools that in our endeavors to recall to memory something long-forgotten
We often find ourselves upon the very verge of remembrance
Without being in the end able to remember
Under the intense scrutiny of Ligeia's eyes
I have felt the full knowledge
And force of their expression
And yet been unable to possess it
And have felt it leave me as so many other things have left
The letter half-read, the bottle half-drunk
Finding in the commonest objects
Of the universe a circle of analogies
Of metaphors for that expression
Which has been willfully withheld from me
The access to the inner soul denied
Eyes blazed with a too-glorious effulgence
Pale fingers transparent, waxen, the hue of the grave
Blue veins upon the lofty forehead swelled
And sunk impetuously with the tides of deep emotion
And I saw that she must die
That she was wresting with the dark shadow
Her stern nature had impressed me
With the belief that, to her
Death would come without its terrors but not so
I groaned in anguish at the pitiable spectacle
I would have soothed
I would have reasoned
But she was amid the most convulsive of writhings
Oh, pitiful soul
Her voice more gentle, more low, and yet her words grew wilder of meaning
I reeled, entranced, to a melody more than mortal
She loved me, no doubt
And in her bosom love reigned as no ordinary passion
But in death only was I impressed
With the intensity of her affection
Her more than passionate devotion amounted to idolatry
How had I deserved to be so blessed
And then cursed with the removal of my beloved
Upon the hour of her most delirious musings
In her more than womanly abandonment to a love
All unmerited and unworthily bestowed
I came to realize the principle of her longing
It was a yearning for life
An eager, intense desire for life
Which was now fleeing so rapidly away
As she returned solemnly to her bed of death
And I had no utterance capable of expressing it except to say
Man doth not yield to the angels
Nor unto death utterly save only through the weakness of his feeble will
I became wild with the excitement
Of an immoderate does of opium
I saw her raising wine to her lips
Or may have dreamed that I saw fall within a goblet
As if from some invisible spring
In the atmosphere of the room
Three of four large drops
Of a brilliant and ruby-colored fluid falling
While Ligeia lay in her bed of ebony
The bed of death with mine eyes riveted upon her body
Then came a moan a sob low and gentle but once
I listened in superstitious terror but heard it not again
I strained vision to see any motion in the corpse
But here was not the slightest perceptible
Yet I had heard the noise
And my whole soul was awakened within me
The red liquid fell and I thought, Ligeia lives
And I felt my brain reel
My heart cease to beat
And my limbs go rigid where I sat
In extremity of horror
I heard a vague sound issuing from the region of the bed
Rushing to her I saw
I distinctly saw a tremor upon her lips
I sprang to my feet and chafed
And bathed the temples and hands but in vain
All color fled, all pulsation ceased
Her lips resumed the expression of the dead
The icy hue, the sunken outline
And all the loathsome peculiarities of that
Which for many days has been the tenant of the tomb
And again I sank into visions of Ligeia
And again I heard a low sob
As I looked she seemed to grow taller
What inexpressible madness seized me with that thought?
I ran to touch her
Her head fell, and her clothing crumbled
And there streamed forth huge masses of long disheveled hair
It was blacker than the raven wings of midnight.

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