Thursday, 16 January 2014

Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe

     And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the
     mystery 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! Buried 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 bethrothed, 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 that spirit which is entitled _Romance_--if ever
she, the wan misty-winged _Ashtophet_ of idolatrous Egypt, presided, as
they tell, over marriages ill-omened, then most surely she presided over

There is one dear topic, however, on which my memory fails 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 equaled her. It was the radiance of an opium-dream--an airy and
spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies which
hovered about the slumbering souls of the daughters of Delos. Yet her
features were not of that regular mold 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 strange." I examined the contour of the lofty and
pale forehead--it was faultless--how cold indeed that word when applied
to a majesty so divine!--the skin rivaling the purest ivory, the
commanding extent and repose, the gentle prominence of the regions above
the temples; and then the raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant, and
naturally-curling tresses, setting forth the full force of the Homeric
epithet, "hyacinthine!" I looked at the delicate outlines of the
nose--and nowhere but in the graceful medallions of the Hebrews had I
beheld a similar perfection. There were the same luxurious smoothness of
surface, the same scarcely perceptible tendency to the aquiline, the
same harmoniously curved nostrils speaking the free spirit. I regarded
the sweet mouth. Here was indeed the triumph of all things heavenly--the
magnificent turn of the short upper lip--the soft, voluptuous slumber of
the under--the dimples which sported, and the color which spoke--the
teeth glancing back, with a brilliancy almost startling, every ray of
the holy light which fell upon them in her serene and placid yet most
exultingly radiant of all smiles. I scrutinized the formation of the
chin--and, here, too, I found the gentleness of breadth, the softness
and the majesty, the fullness and the spirituality, of the Greek--the
contour which the god Apollo revealed but in a dream, to Cleomenes, the
son of the Athenian. And then I peered into the large eyes of Ligeia.

For eyes we have no models in the remotely antique. It might have been,
too, that in these eyes of my beloved lay the secret to which Lord
Verulam alludes. They were, I must believe, far larger than the ordinary
eyes of our own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the
gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet it was only at
intervals--in moments of intense excitement--that this peculiarity
became more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia. And at such moments was
her beauty--in my heated fancy thus it appeared perhaps--the beauty of
beings either above or apart from the earth--the beauty of the fabulous
Houri of the Turk. The hue of the orbs was the most brilliant of black,
and, far over them, hung jetty lashes of great length. The brows,
slightly irregular in outline, had the same tint. The "strangeness,"
however, which I found in the eyes was of a nature distinct from the
formation, or the color, or the brilliancy of the features, and must,
after all, be referred to the _expression_. Ah, word of no meaning!
behind whose vast latitude of mere sound we intrench our ignorance of so
much of the spiritual. The expression of the eyes of Ligeia! How for
long hours have I pondered upon it! How have I, through the whole of a
midsummer night, struggled to fathom it! What was it--that something
more profound than the well of Democritus--which lay far within the
pupils of my beloved? What _was_ it? I was possessed with a passion to
discover. Those eyes! those large, those shining, those divine orbs!
they became to me twin stars of Leda, and I to them devoutest of

There is no point, among the many incomprehensible anomalies of the
science of mind, more thrillingly exciting than the fact--never, I
believe, noticed in the schools--than in our endeavors to recall to
memory something long forgotten, we often find ourselves _upon the very
verge_ of remembrance, without being able, in the end, to remember. And
thus how frequently, in my intense scrutiny of Ligeia's eyes, have I
felt approaching the full knowledge of their expression--felt it
approaching--yet not quite be mine--and so at length entirely depart!
And (strange, oh, strangest mystery of all!) I found, in the commonest
objects of the universe, a circle of analogies to that expression. I
mean to say that, subsequently to the period when Ligeia's beauty passed
into my spirit, there dwelling as in a shrine, I derived, from many
existences in the material world, a sentiment such as I felt always
around, within me, by her large and luminous orbs. Yet not the more
could I define that sentiment, or analyze, or even steadily view it. I
recognized it, let me repeat, sometimes in the survey of a rapidly
growing vine--in the contemplation of a moth, a butterfly, a chrysalis,
a stream of running water. I have felt it in the ocean--in the falling
of a meteor. I have felt it in the glances of unusually aged people. And
there are one or two stars in heaven (one especially, a star of the
sixth magnitude, double and changeable, to be found near the large star
in Lyra) in a telescopic scrutiny of which I have been made aware of the
feeling. I have been filled with it by certain sounds from stringed
instruments, and not unfrequently by passages from books. Among
innumerable other instances, I well remember something in a volume of
Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps merely from its quaintness--who shall
say?) never failed to inspire me with the sentiment: "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 him to the angels, nor unto
death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will."

Length of years and subsequent reflection have enabled me to trace,
indeed, some remote connection between this passage in the English
moralist and a portion of the character of Ligeia. An _intensity_ in
thought, action, or speech was possibly, in her, a result, or at least
an index, of that gigantic volition which, during our long intercourse,
failed to give other and more immediate evidence of its existence. Of
all the women whom I have ever known, she, the outwardly calm, the
ever-placid Ligeia, was the most violently a prey to the tumultuous
vultures of stern passion. And of such passion I could form no estimate,
save by the miraculous expansion of those eyes which at once so
delighted and appalled me,--by the almost magical melody, modulation,
distinctness, and placidity of her very low voice,--and by the fierce
energy (rendered doubly effective by contrast with her manner of
utterance) of the wild words which she habitually uttered.

I have spoken of the learning of Ligeia: it was immense--such as I have
never known in woman. In the classical tongues was she deeply
proficient, and as far as my own acquaintance extended in regard to the
modern dialects of Europe, I have never known her at fault. Indeed upon
any theme of the most admired because simply the most abstruse of the
boasted erudition of the Academy, have I _ever_ found Ligeia at fault?
How singularly--how thrillingly, this one point in the nature of my wife
has forced itself, at this late period only, upon my attention! I said
her knowledge was such as I have never known in woman--but where
breathes the man who has traversed, and successfully, _all_ the wide
areas of moral, physical, and mathematical science? I saw not then what
I now clearly perceive that the acquisitions of Ligeia were gigantic,
were astounding; yet I was sufficiently aware of her infinite supremacy
to resign myself, with a child-like confidence, to her guidance through
the chaotic world of metaphysical investigation at which I was most
busily occupied during the earlier years of our marriage. With how vast
a triumph--with how vivid a delight--with how much of all that is
ethereal in hope did I _feel_, as she bent over me in studies but little
sought--but less known,--that delicious vista by slow degrees expanding
before me, down whose long, gorgeous, and all untrodden path, I might at
length pass onward to the goal of a wisdom too divinely precious not to
be forbidden.

How poignant, then, must have been the grief with which, after some
years, I beheld my well-grounded expectations take wings to themselves
and fly away! Without Ligeia I was but as a child groping benighted. Her
presence, her readings alone, rendered vividly luminous the many
mysteries of the transcendentalism in which we were immersed. Wanting
the radiant luster of her eyes, letters, lambent and golden, grew duller
than Saturnian lead. And now those eyes shone less and less frequently
upon the pages over which I pored. Ligeia grew ill. The wild eyes blazed
with a too--too glorious effulgence; the pale fingers became of the
transparent waxen hue of the grave; and the blue veins upon the lofty
forehead swelled and sank impetuously with the tides of the most gentle
emotion. I saw that she must die--and I struggled desperately in spirit
with the grim Azrael. And the struggles of the passionate wife were, to
my astonishment, even more energetic than my own. There had been much in
her stern nature to impress me with the belief that, to her, death would
have come without its terrors; but not so. Words are impotent to convey
any just idea of the fierceness of resistance with which she wrestled
with the Shadow. I groaned in anguish at the pitiable spectacle. I would
have soothed--I would have reasoned; but in the intensity of her wild
desire for life--for life--_but_ for life--solace and reason were alike
the uttermost of folly. Yet not until the last instance, amid the most
convulsive writhings of her fierce spirit, was shaken the external
placidity of her demeanor. Her voice grew more gentle--grew more
low--yet I would not wish to dwell upon the wild meaning of the quietly
uttered words. My brain reeled as I hearkened, entranced, to a melody
more than mortal--to assumptions and aspirations which mortality had
never before known.

That she loved me I should not have doubted; and I might have been
easily aware that, in a bosom such as hers, love would have reigned no
ordinary passion. But in death only was I fully impressed with the
strength of her affection. For long hours, detaining my hand, would she
pour out before me the overflowing of a heart whose more than passionate
devotion amounted to idolatry. How had I deserved to be so blessed by
such confessions?--how had I deserved to be so cursed with the removal
of my beloved in the hour of my making them? But upon this subject I
cannot bear to dilate. Let me say only, that in Ligeia's more than
womanly abandonment to a love, alas! all unmerited, all unworthily
bestowed, I at length, recognized the principle of her longing, with so
wildly earnest a desire, for the life which was now fleeing so rapidly
away. It is this wild longing--it is this eager vehemence of desire for
life--_but_ for life--that I have no power to portray--no utterance
capable of expressing.

At high noon of the night in which she departed, beckoning me,
peremptorily, to her side, she bade me repeat certain verses composed by
herself not many days before. I obeyed her. They were these:--

    Lo! 'tis a gala night
      Within the lonesome latter years!
    An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
      In veils, and drowned in tears,
    Sit in a theatre, to see
      A play of hopes and fears,
    While the orchestra breathes fitfully
      The music of the spheres.

    Mimes, in the form of God on high,
      Mutter and mumble low,
    And hither and thither fly;
      Mere puppets they, who come and go
    At bidding of vast formless things
      That shift the scenery to and fro,
    Flapping from out their condor wings
      Invisible Wo!

    That motley drama!--oh, be sure
      It shall not be forgot!
    With its Phantom chased for evermore
      By a crowd that seize it not,
    Through a circle that ever returneth in
      To the self-same spot;
    And much of Madness, and more of Sin
      And Horror, the soul of the plot!

    But see, amid the mimic rout,
      A crawling shape intrude!
    A blood-red thing that writhes from out
      The scenic solitude!
    It writhes!--it writhes!--with mortal pangs
      The mimes become its food,
    And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs
      In human gore imbued.

    Out--out are the lights--out all:
      And over each quivering form,
    The curtain, a funeral pall,
      Comes down with the rush of a storm--
    And the angels, all pallid and wan,
      Uprising, unveiling, affirm
    That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
      And its hero, the conqueror Worm.

"O God!" half shrieked Ligeia, leaping to her feet and extending her
arms aloft with a spasmodic movement, as I made an end of these
lines--"O God! O Divine Father!--shall these things be undeviatingly
so?--shall this conqueror be not once conquered? Are we not part and
parcel in Thee? Who--who knoweth the mysteries of the will with its
vigor? Man doth not yield him to the angels, _nor unto death utterly_,
save only through the weakness of his feeble will."

And now, as if exhausted with emotion, she suffered her white arms to
fall, and returned solemnly to her bed of death. And as she breathed her
last sighs, there came mingled with them a low murmur from her lips. I
bent to them my ear, and distinguished, again, the concluding words of
the passage in Glanvill: "_Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor
unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will._"

She died: and I, crushed into the very dust with sorrow, could no longer
endure the lonely desolation of my dwelling in the dim and decaying
city by the Rhine. I had no lack of what the world calls wealth. Ligeia
had brought me far more, very far more, than ordinarily falls to the lot
of mortals. After a few months, therefore, of weary and aimless
wandering, I purchased and put in some repair, an abbey, which I shall
not name, in one of the wildest and least frequented portions of fair
England. The gloomy and dreary grandeur of the building, the almost
savage aspect of the domain, the many melancholy and time-honored
memories connected with both, had much in unison with the feelings of
utter abandonment which had driven me into that remote and unsocial
region of the country. Yet although the external abbey, with its verdant
decay hanging about it, suffered but little alteration, I gave way, with
a child-like perversity, and perchance with a faint hope of alleviating
my sorrows, to a display of more than regal magnificence within. For
such follies, even in childhood, I had imbibed a taste, and now they
came back to me as if in the dotage of grief. Alas, I feel how much even
of incipient madness might have been discovered in the gorgeous and
fantastic draperies, in the solemn carvings of Egypt, in the wild
cornices and furniture, in the Bedlam patterns of the carpets of tufted
gold! I had become a bounden slave in the trammels of opium, and my
labors and my orders had taken a coloring from my dreams. But these
absurdities I must not pause to detail. Let me speak only of that one
chamber, ever accursed, whither, in a moment of mental alienation, I led
from the altar as my bride--as the successor of the unforgotten
Ligeia--the fair-haired and blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion, of

There is no individual portion of the architecture and decoration of
that bridal chamber which is not visibly before me. Where were the souls
of the haughty family of the bride, when, through thirst of gold, they
permitted to pass the threshold of an apartment _so_ bedecked, a maiden
and a daughter so beloved? I have said, that I minutely remember the
details of the chamber--yet I am sadly forgetful on topics of deep
moment; and here there was no system, no keeping, in the fantastic
display to take hold upon the memory. The room lay in a high turret of
the castellated abbey, was pentagonal in shape, and of capacious size.
Occupying the whole southern face of the pentagonal was the sole
window--an immense sheet of unbroken glass from Venice--a single pane,
and tinted of a leaden hue, so that the rays of either the sun or moon
passing through it, fell with a ghastly luster on the objects within.
Over the upper portion of this huge window extended the trellis-work of
an aged vine, which clambered up the massy walls of the turret. The
ceiling, of gloomy-looking oak, was excessively lofty, vaulted, and
elaborately fretted with the wildest and most grotesque specimens of a
semi-Gothic, semi-Druidical device. From out the most central recess of
this melancholy vaulting, depended, by a single chain of gold with long
links, a huge censer of the same metal, Saracenic in pattern, and with
many perforations so contrived that there writhed in and out of them, as
if endued with a serpent vitality, a continual succession of
parti-colored fires.

Some few ottomans and golden candelabra, of Eastern figure, were in
various stations about; and there was the couch, too--the bridal
couch--of an Indian model, and low, and sculptured of solid ebony, with
a pall-like canopy above. In each of the angles of the chamber stood on
end a gigantic sarcophagus of black granite, from the tombs of the kings
over against Luxor, with their aged lids full of immemorial sculpture.
But in the draping of the apartment lay, alas! the chief phantasy of
all. The lofty walls, gigantic in height--even unproportionably so--were
hung from summit to foot, in vast folds, with a heavy and
massive-looking tapestry--tapestry of a material which was found alike
as a carpet on the floor, as a covering for the ottomans and the ebony
bed, as a canopy for the bed, and as the gorgeous volutes of the
curtains which partially shaded the window. The material was the richest
cloth of gold. It was spotted all over, at irregular intervals, with
arabesque figures, about a foot in diameter, and wrought upon the cloth
in patterns of the most jetty black. But these figures partook of the
true character of the arabesque only when regarded from a single point
of view. By a contrivance now common, and indeed traceable to a very
remote period of antiquity, they were made changeable in aspect. To one
entering the room, they bore the appearance of simple monstrosities; but
upon a farther advance, this appearance gradually departed; and, step by
step, as the visitor moved his station in the chamber, he saw himself
surrounded by an endless succession of the ghastly forms which belong to
the superstition of the Norman, or arise in the guilty slumbers of the
monk. The phantasmagoric effect was vastly heightened by the artificial
introduction of a strong continual current of wind behind the
draperies--giving a hideous and uneasy animation to the whole.

In halls such as these--in a bridal chamber such as this--I passed, with
the Lady of Tremaine, the unhallowed hours of the first month of our
marriage--passed them with but little disquietude. That my wife dreaded
the fierce moodiness of my temper--that she shunned me, and loved me but
little--I could not help perceiving; but it gave me rather pleasure than
otherwise. I loathed her with a hatred belonging more to demon than to
man. My memory flew back (oh, with what intensity of regret!) to Ligeia,
the beloved, the august, the beautiful, the entombed. I reveled in
recollections of her purity, of her wisdom, of her lofty--her ethereal
nature, of her passionate, her idolatrous love. Now, then, did my spirit
fully and freely burn with more than all the fires of her own. In the
excitement of my opium dreams (for I was habitually fettered in the
shackles of the drug), I would call aloud upon her name, during the
silence of the night, or among the sheltered recesses of the glens by
day, as if, through the wild eagerness, the solemn passion, the
consuming ardor of my longing for the departed, I could restore her to
the pathways she had abandoned--ah, _could_ it be forever?--upon the

About the commencement of the second month of the marriage, the Lady
Rowena was attacked with sudden illness, from which her recovery was
slow. The fever which consumed her rendered her nights uneasy; and in
her perturbed state of half-slumber, she spoke of sounds, and of
motions, in and about the chamber of the turret, which I concluded had
no origin save in the distemper of her fancy, or perhaps in the
phantasmagoric influences of the chamber itself. She became at length
convalescent--finally, well. Yet but a second more violent disorder
again threw her upon a bed of suffering; and from this attack her frame,
at all times feeble, never altogether recovered. Her illnesses were,
after this epoch, of alarming character, and of more alarming
recurrence, defying alike the knowledge and the great exertions of her
physicians. With the increase of the chronic disease, which had thus,
apparently, taken too sure hold upon her constitution to be eradicated
by human means, I could not fail to observe a similar increase in the
nervous irritation of her temperament, and in her excitability by
trivial causes of fear. She spoke again, and now more frequently and
pertinaciously, of the sounds--of the slight sounds--and of the unusual
motions among the tapestries, to which she had formerly alluded.

One night, near the closing in of September, she pressed this
distressing subject with more than usual emphasis upon my attention. She
had just awakened from an unquiet slumber, and I had been watching, with
feelings half of anxiety, half of vague terror, the workings of her
emaciated countenance. I sat by the side of her ebony bed, upon one of
the ottomans of India. She partly arose, and spoke, in an earnest low
whisper, of sounds which she _then_ heard, but which I could not
hear--of motions which she _then_ saw, but which I could not perceive.
The wind was rushing hurriedly behind the tapestries, and I wished to
show her (what, let me confess it, I could not _all_ believe) that those
almost inarticulate breathings, and those very gentle variations of the
figures upon the wall, were but the natural effects of that customary
rushing of the wind. But a deadly pallor, overspreading her face, had
proved to me that my exertions to reassure her would be fruitless. She
appeared to be fainting, and no attendants were within call. I
remembered where was deposited a decanter of light wine which had been
ordered by her physicians, and hastened across the chamber to procure
it. But, as I stepped beneath the light of the censer, two
circumstances of a startling nature attracted my attention. I had felt
that some palpable although invisible object had passed lightly by my
person; and I saw that there lay upon the golden carpet, in the very
middle of the rich luster thrown from the censer, a shadow--a faint,
indefinite shadow of angelic aspect--such as might be fancied for the
shadow of a shade. But I was wild with the excitement of an immoderate
dose of opium, and heeded these things but little, nor spoke of them to
Rowena. Having found the wine, I recrossed the chamber, and poured out a
gobletful, which I held to the lips of the fainting lady. She had now
partially recovered, however, and took the vessel herself, while I sank
upon an ottoman near me, with my eyes fastened upon her person. It was
then that I became distinctly aware of a gentle footfall upon the
carpet, and near the couch; and in a second thereafter, as Rowena was in
the act of raising the wine to her lips, I saw, or may have dreamed that
I saw, fall within the goblet, as if from some invisible spring in the
atmosphere of the room, three or four large drops of a brilliant and
ruby colored fluid. If this I saw--not so Rowena. She swallowed the wine
unhesitatingly, and I forebore to speak to her of a circumstance which
must, after all, I considered, have been but the suggestion of a vivid
imagination, rendered morbidly active by the terror of the lady, by the
opium, and by the hour.

Yet I cannot conceal [Transcriber's note: The original reads "coneal".]
it from my own perception that, immediately subsequent to the fall of
the ruby drops, a rapid change for the worse took place in the disorder
of my wife; so that, on the third subsequent night, the hands of her
menials prepared her for the tomb, and on the fourth, I sat alone, with
her shrouded body, in that fantastic chamber which had received her as
my bride. Wild visions, opium-engendered, flitted, shadow-like, before
me. I gazed with unquiet eye upon the sarcophagi in the angles of the
room, upon the varying figures of the drapery, and upon the writhing of
the parti-colored fires in the censer overhead. My eyes then fell, as I
called to mind the circumstances of a former night, to the spot beneath
the glare of the censer where I had seen the faint traces of the shadow.
It was there, however, no longer; and breathing with greater freedom, I
turned my glances to the pallid and rigid figure upon the bed. Then
rushed upon me a thousand memories of Ligeia--and then came back upon my
heart, with the turbulent violence of a flood, the whole of that
unutterable woe with which I had regarded _her_ thus enshrouded. The
night waned; and still, with a bosom full of bitter thoughts of the one
only and supremely beloved, I remained gazing upon the body of Rowena.

It might have been midnight, or perhaps earlier, or later, for I had
taken no note of time, when a sob, low, gentle, but very distinct,
startled me from my revery. I _felt_ that it came from the bed of
ebony--the bed of death. I listened in an agony of superstitious
terror--but there was no repetition of the sound. I strained my vision
to detect any motion in the corpse--but there was not the slightest
perceptible. Yet I could not have been deceived. I _had_ heard the
noise, however faint, and my soul was awakened within me. I resolutely
and perseveringly kept my attention riveted upon the body. Many minutes
elapsed before any circumstance occurred tending to throw light upon the
mystery. At length it became evident that a slight, a very feeble, and
barely noticeable tinge of color had flushed up within the cheeks, and
along the sunken small veins of the eyelids. Through a species of
unutterable horror and awe, for which the language of mortality has no
sufficiently energetic expression, I felt my heart cease to beat, my
limbs grow rigid where I sat. Yet a sense of duty finally operated to
restore my self-possession. I could no longer doubt that we had been
precipitate in our preparations--that Rowena still lived. It was
necessary that some immediate exertion be made; yet the turret was
altogether apart from the portion of the abbey tenanted by the
servants--there were none within call--I had no means of summoning them
to my aid without leaving the room for many minutes--and this I could
not venture to do. I therefore struggled alone in my endeavors to call
back the spirit still hovering. In a short period it was certain,
however, that a relapse had taken place; the color disappeared from both
eyelid and cheek, leaving a wanness even more than that of marble; the
lips became doubly shriveled and pinched up in the ghastly expression of
death; a repulsive clamminess and coldness overspread rapidly the
surface of the body; and all the usual rigorous stiffness immediately
supervened. I fell back with a shudder upon the couch from which I had
been so startlingly aroused, and again gave myself up to passionate
waking visions of Ligeia.

An hour thus elapsed, when (could it be possible?) I was a second time
aware of some vague sound issuing from the region of the bed. I
listened--in extremity of horror. The sound came again--it was a sigh.
Rushing to the corpse, I saw--distinctly saw--a tremor upon the lips. In
a minute afterward they relaxed, disclosing a bright line of the pearly
teeth. Amazement now struggled in my bosom with the profound awe which
had hitherto reigned there alone. I felt that my vision grew dim, that
my reason wandered; and it was only by a violent effort that I at length
succeeded in nerving myself to the task which duty thus once more had
pointed out. There was now a partial glow upon the forehead and upon the
cheek and throat; a perceptible warmth pervaded the whole frame; there
was even a slight pulsation at the heart. The lady _lived_; and with
redoubled ardor I betook myself to the task of restoration. I chafed and
bathed the temples and the hands and used every exertion which
experience, and no little medical reading, could suggest. But in vain.
Suddenly, the color fled, the pulsation ceased, the lips resumed the
expression of the dead, and, in an instant afterward, the whole body
took upon itself the icy chilliness, the livid hue, the intense
rigidity, the sunken outline, and all the loathsome peculiarities of
that which has been, for many days, a tenant of the tomb.

And again I sunk into visions of Ligeia--and again (what marvel that I
shudder while I write?), _again_ there reached my ears a low sob from
the region of the ebony bed. But why shall I minutely detail the
unspeakable horrors of that night? Why shall I pause to relate how, time
after time, until near the period of the gray dawn, this hideous drama
of revivification was repeated; how each terrific relapse was only into
a sterner and apparently more irredeemable death; how each agony wore
the aspect of a struggle with some invisible foe; and how each struggle
was succeeded by I know not what of wild change in the personal
appearance of the corpse? Let me hurry to a conclusion.

The greater part of the fearful night had worn away, and she who had
been dead once again stirred--and now more vigorously than hitherto,
although arousing from a dissolution more appalling in its utter
hopelessness than any. I had long ceased to struggle or to move, and
remained sitting rigidly upon the ottoman, a helpless prey to a whirl
of violent emotions, of which extreme awe was perhaps the least
terrible, the least consuming. The corpse, I repeat, stirred, and now
more vigorously than before. The hues of life flushed up with unwonted
energy into the countenance--the limbs relaxed--and, save that the
eyelids were yet pressed heavily together, and that the bandages and
draperies of the grave still imparted their charnel character to the
figure, I might have dreamed that Rowena had indeed shaken off, utterly,
the fetters of Death. But if this idea was not, even then, altogether
adopted, I could at least doubt no longer, when, arising from the bed,
tottering, with feeble steps, with closed eyes, and with the manner of
one bewildered in a dream, the thing that was enshrouded advanced boldly
and palpably into the middle of the apartment.

I trembled not--I stirred not--for a crowd of unutterable fancies
connected with the air, the stature, the demeanor, of the figure,
rushing hurriedly through my brain, had paralyzed--had chilled me into
stone. I stirred not--but gazed upon the apparition. There was a mad
disorder in my thoughts--a tumult unappeasable. Could it, indeed, be the
_living_ Rowena who confronted me? Could it, indeed, be Rowena _at
all_--the fair-haired, the blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine?
Why, _why_ should I doubt it? The bandage lay heavily about the
mouth--but then might it not be the mouth of the breathing Lady of
Tremaine? And the cheeks--there were the roses as in her noon of
life--yes, these might indeed be the fair cheeks of the living Lady of
Tremaine. And the chin, with its dimples, as in health, might it not be
hers?--but _had she then grown taller since her malady?_ What
inexpressible madness seized me with that thought? One bound, and I had
reached her feet! Shrinking from my touch, she let fall from her head,
unloosened, the ghastly cerements which had confined it, and there
streamed forth into the rushing atmosphere of the chamber huge masses of
long and disheveled hair; _it was blacker than the raven wings of
midnight._ And now slowly opened _the eyes_ of the figure which stood
before me. "Here then, at least," I shrieked aloud, "can I never--can I
never be mistaken--these are the full, and the black, and the wild
eyes--of my lost love--of the Lady--of the LADY LIGEIA."

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