23 pages 46 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Conqueror Worm

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1843

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The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe (1849)

One of the last poems Poe completed, the poem reflects the audacities and the ironies of “The Conqueror Worm.” Set to a riveting and compelling galloping rhythm, the poem delights the ear with its clever wordplay and its subtle weave of sounds, the joy it displays in the sheer fun of recitation. It is all-too-easy to get caught up in the carefully crafted sounds of each line. Yet, like “The Conqueror Worm,” Poe uses such gaudy and happy wordplay to explore a progressively darker vision of how a person ages, the relentless movement from childhood to mortality, each of our signal live-moments set to the giddy irrepressible “tintinnabulation” of the “bells, bells, bells.”

Dejection: An Ode” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1802)

Written by one of Britain’s iconic dark Romantics, the poem paved the way for fledgling poets of Poe’s era to explore our darkest and more forbidding thoughts. The world here is the familiar wordscape of Poe himself, a forbidding and empty expanse where joy is ironic and thoughts center inevitably on the gloomy, the morbid, and the grotesque, Poe’s signature “midnight of the soul” (a phrase Poe borrowed from this poem).