23 pages 46 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Conqueror Worm

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1843

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Literary Devices


The poem is delivered in five eight-line stanzas, or octaves. Each stanza follows a rigid end-rhyme scheme: ABABCBCB.

Despite that disciplined form or more appropriately within that disciplined form, Poe coaxes a sonic delight with his keen ear for how words work together to create an aural thrill. Poe never forgets this is theater and that the lines need to be theatrical. They need to dazzle. They need to shimmer.

The poem uses a variety of formal strategies to achieve this shimmer: consonance, the repetition of initial consonant sounds in a single line; assonance, the use of long or short vowels in a pattern within and between lines; the repetition of particular words or entire phrases to create emphasis; the stylish and idiosyncratic use of capitalization; the generous scattering of exclamation points or the deploying of obvious rhetorical devices such as the word “oh” or “Lo” or archaic words such as “returneth” or “bewinged” or “Wo” and, of course, “hither and thither” to encourage recitation to be over-the-top and excessively emotional; the use of enjambment, lines that move dynamically right into the next line without end-punctuation, which creates a breathless and excited recitation; and the deliberate shuffling of expected syntactical arrangements to create a jolting and jarring effect when, for instance, the subject of the sentence comes at the end of the idea or when sentences are embedded with descriptive details that create an elongated and sinewy feel to the lines, simulating the writhing worm itself.