Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"The Haunted Palace" Published 1839

"The Haunted Palace"

by Edgar Allan Poe


In the greenest of our valleys,
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion—
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.


Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow;
(This—all this—was in the olden
Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A wingèd odor went away.


Wanderers in that happy valley
Through two luminous windows saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute's well-tunèd law,
Round about a throne, where sitting
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.


And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.


But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!);
And, round about his home, the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.


And travelers now within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows, see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a rapid ghastly river,
Through the pale door,
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh—but smile no more.

"The Haunted Palace" is a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The 48-line poem was first released in the April 1839 issue of Nathan Brooks' American Museum magazine. It was eventually incorporated into "The Fall of the House of Usher" as a poem written by Roderick Usher.


The poem serves as an allegory about a king "in the olden time long ago" who is afraid of evil forces that threaten him and his palace, foreshadowing impending doom. As part of "The Fall of the House of Usher," Poe said, "I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms — a disordered brain" [1] referring to Roderick Usher.

The poem takes a marked change in tone towards the second to last stanza. After discussing the wit and wisdom of the king, and song and beauty in the kingdom:

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate.
The house and family are destroyed and, apparently, become phantoms.

The beginning of the poem compares the structure with a human head. For example, the windows are eyes, its door representing a mouth. The exterior represents physical features while the interior represents the mind engaged in imaginative thought.[2]

Publication history

In 1845, Thomas Dunn English claimed Poe had tried to sell "The Haunted Palace" to John L. O'Sullivan of the Democratic Review but was rejected because he "found it impossible to comprehend it."[3] It is unclear if this is true. The poem was published in the April 1839 issue of the Baltimore Museum.[4]

Critical reception

Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a known rival of Poe's, claimed that Poe had plagiarized the poem from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Beleaguered City." Poe denied that charge and suggested that Longfellow had, in fact, plagiarized from him.[5] Nevertheless, "The Haunted Palace" was one of the poems highlighted in Griswold's Poets and Poetry of America, one of the first anthologies of American poetry in 1842.[4] When the poem was reprinted by the New World in 1845, Charles Eames introduced it as exquisite. "We can hardly call to mind in the whole compass of American Poetry, a picture of more intense and glowing Ideality."[6]


The poem provided the title for a Roger Corman film of the same name in 1963. The actual plot of Corman's film The Haunted Palace comes almost entirely from "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," a short story by H. P. Lovecraft. By 1963, Corman had produced several highly lucrative films based on Poe's work, but Lovecraft was not at that time a well-known author; according to Corman on the DVD making-of featurette, the studio forced him to name this movie after one of Poe's poems (and included a Poe epigraph in the credits) so that audiences would believe it to be another film based on Poe's writings.

French composer Florent Schmitt wrote an etude, Le palais hante, derived from "The Haunted Palace" in 1904.[7]


1.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. Cooper Square Press, 2001. p. 111.
2.^ Wilbur, Richard. "The House of Poe," collected in Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Robert Regan. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967: 104–105.
3.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall and Co., 1987: 587. ISBN 0-7838-1401-1
4.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. Checkmark Books, 2001: 104. ISBN 0-8160-4161-X
5.^ Moss, Sidney P. Poe's Literary Battles: The Critic in the Context of his Literary Milieu. Southern Illinois University Press, 1969: 126.
6.^ Thomas, Dwight and David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987: 498. ISBN 0816187347.

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