From “The Valley of the Unrest” in The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe:
Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless—
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye—
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
External dews come down in drops.
They weep:—from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.
From “The Poetic Principle” in The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe:
“An immortal instinct, deep within the spirit of man, is thus, plainly, a sense of the Beautiful. This it is which administers to his delight in the manifold forms, and sounds, and odours, and sentiments amid which he exists. And just as the lily is repeated in the lake, or the eyes of Amaryllis in the mirror, so is the mere oral or written repetition of these forms, and sounds, and colours, and odours, and sentiments, a duplicate source of delight.”
From “The Masque of the Red Death” in The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe:
“The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the ‘Red Death’….
“It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence…
“The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the decora of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not….“
My, my … I spent half the day looking through my library for some quotes about lilies, was about to give up but then started poking among Edgar Allen Poe’s words when I found the poem above, and a second lily reference in his essay about poetry and our appreciation of beauty. Since I was in Poe-mode, I decided to include a third bonus-quote, from The Masque of the Red Death — one of Poe’s most horrifically endearing (!!) stories about the prince of an unidentified kingdom who tried to shield himself and his sycophants from a plague while partying big-time in his ostentatious abbey, as his subjects got sick throughout the land. Spoiler alert: he failed. I had highlighted these passages a couple weeks ago when I saw a meme on Twitter pointing out that Trump’s Rose Garden gathering for his Supreme Court nominee leading to a coronavirus outbreak that included Trump himself … was just like the plot of Poe’s story. Well, damn, it really was! And there were even buffoons!!
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The previous posts in this series are:
Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)
Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)
Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)
Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)
Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)
Thanks for taking a look!