Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.Tis some visitor, I muttered, tapping at my chamber door — Only this and nothing more.Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrowFrom my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore — Nameless here for evermore.And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtainThrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door —Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; — This it is and nothing more.Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,Sir, said I, or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;But the fact is I was napping and so gently you came rapping,And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,That I scarce was sure I heard you— here I opened wide the door; — Darkness there and nothing more.Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;But the silence was unbroken and the stillness gave no token,And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, Lenore?This I whispered and an echo murmured back the word, Lenore! — Merely this and nothing more.Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.Surely, said I, surely that is something at my window lattice:Let me see, then, what thereat is and this mystery explore —Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; — 'Tis the wind and nothing more.Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door — Perched and sat and nothing more.Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou, I said, art sure no craven,Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore —Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore! Quoth the Raven, Nevermore.Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,Though its answer little meaning— little relevancy bore;For we cannot help agreeing that no living human beingEver yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door —Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as Nevermore.
Edgar Allan Poe
AubadeI work all day and get half-drunk at night. Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. In time the curtain-edges will grow light. Till then I see what’s really always there: Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, Making all thought impossible but how And where and when I shall myself die. Arid interrogation: yet the dread Of dying and being dead, Flashes afresh to hold and horrify. The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse —The good not done, the love not given, time Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because An only life can take so long to climb Clear of its wrong beginnings and may never; But at the total emptiness for ever, The sure extinction that we travel to And shall be lost in always. Not to be here, Not to be anywhere, And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true. This is a special way of being afraid No trick dispels. Religion used to try, That vast moth-eaten musical brocade Created to pretend we never die, And specious stuff that says No rational being Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound, No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, Nothing to love or link with, The anaesthetic from which none come round. And so it stays just on the edge of vision, A small unfocused blur, a standing chill That slows each impulse down to indecision. Most things may never happen: this one will, And realisation of it rages out In furnace-fear when we are caught without People or drink. Courage is no good: It means not scaring others. Being brave Lets no one off the grave. Death is no different whined at than withstood. Slowly light strengthens and the room takes shape. It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, Have always known, know that we can’t escape, Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go. Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring In locked-up offices and all the uncaring Intricate rented world begins to rouse. The sky is white as clay, with no sun. Work has to be done. Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
Philip Larkin