Ligeia. by edgar allan poe



And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the
Mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will
Pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield
Himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the
Weakness of his feeble will. – Joseph Glanvill.

I Cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I
First became acquainted with the lady Ligeia. Long years have since
Elapsed, and my memory is feeble through much suffering. Or, perhaps,
I cannot now bring these points to mind, because, in truth, the
Character of my beloved, her rare learning, her singular yet placid
Cast of beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her
Low musical language, made their way into my heart by paces so
Steadily and stealthily progressive that they have been unnoticed and
Unknown. Yet I believe that I met her first and most frequently in
Some large, old, decaying city near the Rhine. Of her family – I
Have surely heard her speak. That it is of a remotely ancient date
Cannot be doubted. Ligeia! Ligeia! in studies of a nature more than
All else adapted to deaden impressions of the outward world, it is by
That sweet word alone – by Ligeia – that I bring before mine eyes
In fancy the image of her who is no more. And now, while I write, a
Recollection flashes upon me that I have never known the paternal
Name of her who was my friend and my betrothed, and who became the
Partner of my studies, and finally the wife of my bosom. Was it a
Playful charge on the part of my Ligeia? or was it a test of my
Strength of affection, that I should institute no inquiries upon this
Point? or was it rather a caprice of my own – a wildly romantic
Offering on the shrine of the most passionate devotion?

I but
Indistinctly recall the fact itself – what wonder that I have
Utterly forgotten the circumstances which originated or attended it?
And, indeed, if ever she, the wan and the misty-winged Ashtophet of
Idolatrous Egypt, presided, as they tell, over marriages ill-omened,
Then most surely she presided over mine.

There is one dear topic, however, on which my memory falls me not. It
Is the person of Ligeia. In stature she was tall, somewhat slender,
And, in her latter days, even emaciated. I would in vain attempt to
Portray the majesty, the quiet ease, of her demeanor, or the
Incomprehensible lightness and elasticity of her footfall. She came
And departed as a shadow. I was never made aware of her entrance into
My closed study save by the dear music of her low sweet voice, as she
Placed her marble hand upon my shoulder. In beauty of face no maiden
Ever equalled her. It was the radiance of an opium-dream – an airy
And spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies
Which hovered vision about the slumbering souls of the daughters of
Delos. Yet her features were not of that regular mould which we have
Been falsely taught to worship in the classical labors of the
Heathen. “There is no exquisite beauty,” says Bacon, Lord Verulam,
Speaking truly of all the forms and genera of beauty, without some
Strangeness in the proportion.” Yet, although I saw that the features
Of Ligeia were not of a classic regularity – although I perceived
That her loveliness was indeed “exquisite,” and felt that there was
Much of “strangeness” pervading it, yet I have tried in vain to
Detect the irregularity and to trace home my own perception of “the

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Ligeia. by edgar allan poe