“To One in Paradise”: Inimical chapter nine
To One in Paradise
One of the books I’ve saved from my childhood, through many years, is a collection of short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. (Never mind why the macabre was the first genre I attached to). What I consider Poe’s great talent, and what makes him worth studying, is that quick acceleration, shifting in mood from memory, to melancholy musing, to sudden peril.
“Ulalume” gives, arguably, the most perfect example of this:
But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said: “Sadly, this star I mistrust—
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Ah, hasten! —ah, let us not linger!
Ah fly!—let us fly!-for we must.”
(the link above goes to Poets.Org’s archive)
“The Bells”, extending the metaphor (these as symbols for the cycle of human life), from sleigh bells to funeral bells, is likely the most well-known example.
But my favorite has always been, “To One in Paradise”; and I’ve used it twice, once as epigraph for Inimical, chapter nine, and later, in my short novel, “Are You Haunted”, as epitaph for Lettie Drybrook’s tombstone.
Thou wast that all to me, love
For which my soul did pine—
A green Isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.
(the link above goes to the Poetry Foundation site)
Here is the poem as featured in Inimical, referencing Werner von Kneussl’s hopeless outlook, his fear for his own mental state, growing out of his WWI service: