[quoth] edgar allan poe: siope—a fable (1838)


Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call
Silence — which is the merest word of all[4]

 “Listen to me,” said the Demon, as he placed his hand upon my head. “There is a spot upon this accursed earth which thou hast never yet beheld And if by any chance thou hast beheld it, it must have been in one of those vigorous dreams which come like the Simoon[5] upon the brain of the sleeper who hath lain down to sleep among the forbidden sunbeams — among the sunbeams, I say, which slide from off the solemn columns of the melancholy temples in the wilderness. The region of which I speak is a dreary region in Libya, by the borders of the river Zaire. And there is no quiet there, nor silence. [...]

“And, all at once, the moon arose through the thin ghastly mist, and was crimson in color. And mine eyes fell upon a huge grey rock which stood by the shore of the river, and was litten by the light of the moon. And the rock was grey, and ghastly, and tall, — and the rock was grey. Upon its front were characters engraven in the stone; and I walked through the morass of water-lilies, until I came close unto the shore, that I might read the characters upon the stone. But I could not decypher the characters. And I was going back into the morass, when the moon shone with a fuller red, and I turned and looked again upon the rock, and upon the characters — and the characters were DESOLATION. [...]

“Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence, the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies. And they became accursed and were still. And the moon ceased to totter in its pathway up the heaven — and the thunder died away — and the lightning did not flash — and the clouds hung motionless — and the waters sunk to their level and remained — and the trees ceased to rock — and the water-lilies sighed no more — and the murmur was heard no longer from among them, nor any shadow of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert. And I looked upon the characters of the rock, and they were changed — and the characters were SILENCE.

1 Etymology: From Greek σιωπή siôpê (silence, a hush; muteness, that is, involuntary stillness, or inability to speak).
2 The full text can be consulted over here

3 Mesmeric Revelation, via Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology (ed. Laura Otis)

4 Al Aaraaf.

5 Alternative spelling of simoom: a hot, dry, suffocating, dust-laden wind of the desert, particularity of Arabia, Syria, and neighboring countries, generated by the extreme heat of the parched deserts or sandy plains.

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