The fall of the house of usher. by edgar allan poe




DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn
Of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I
Had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary
Tract of country ; and at length found myself, as the shades of the
Evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I
Know not how it was – but, with the first glimpse of the building, a
Sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable ;
for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable,
Because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even
The sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked
Upon the scene before me – upon the mere house, and the simple
Landscape features of the domain – upon the bleak walls – upon the
Vacant eye-like windows – upon a few rank sedges

– and upon a few
White trunks of decayed trees – with an utter depression of soul
Which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the
After-dream of the reveller upon opium – the bitter lapse into
Everyday life – the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an
Iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart – an unredeemed
Dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could
Torture into aught of the sublime. What was it – I paused to think –
What was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of
Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble ; nor could I grapple with
The shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced
To fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond
Doubt, there _are_ combinations of very simple natural objects which
Have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power
Lies among considerations beyond our depth. It was possible, I
Reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of
The scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to
Modify, or perhaps to annihilate its capacity for sorrowful
Impression ; and, acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to the
Precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled
Lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down – but with a shudder even more
Thrilling than before – upon the remodelled and inverted images of
The gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and
Eye-like windows.

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a
Sojourn of some weeks. Its proprietor, Roderick Usher, had been one
Of my boon companions in boyhood ; but many years had elapsed since
Our last meeting. A letter, however, had lately reached me in a
Distant part of the country – a letter from him – which, in its
Wildly importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a personal
Reply. The MS. gave evidence of nervous agitation. The writer
Spoke of acute bodily illness – of a mental disorder which oppressed
Him – and of an earnest desire to see me, as his best, and indeed his
Only personal friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness
Of my society, some alleviation of his malady. It was the manner in
Which all this, and much more, was said – it was the apparent _heart_
That went with his request – which allowed me no room for hesitation;
And I accordingly obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very
Singular summons.

Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associates, yet I
Really knew little of my friend. His reserve had been always
Excessive and habitual.

The fall of the house of usher. by edgar allan poe