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Edgar Allan Poe

[1809 – 1849]→bio

•  Anthology: ⇒⇐[read]


♥   The Tell-tale Heart

A wonderful animated short film of 1953 based on Edgar Allan Poe short-story. The story told by a mad man has a dark visual with a perfect work of narration by James Mason. It is a UPA Production and was the first cartoon to be X-rated (adults only) in Great Britain under the British Board of Film Censors classification system.

You can click icon for a pdf edition of Poe’s original story, or read and listen on the screen below ⇓

·  ·  ·  1953 animation  ⇓  narrated by James Mason

TRUE! I’m nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous; but why will you say that I am mad? See how calmly and precisely I can tell the story to you. It starts with the old man, an old man in an old house, a good man I suppose. He had never harmed me; I never wanted his gold, if gold there was. Then what was it? I think… I think it was his eye! yes, that eye! That. His eye staring: milky while film… The eye, everywhere, everywhere in everything… Of course I had to get rid of the eye, so I waited, watched, waited…

I was never so kind to the old man. I looked up to him each minute, each second, and I waited. But night after night, in the hour of the slowest clock, I opened the old man’s door the eye always closed.

You think me mad, what madman would wait, could wait so patiently, so long? In the old house, with the old man and the eye that… The on the eighth night I knew: tonight! Still I waited while time slowed, stopped, ebbed out. I watched his hand move more quickly than mine. And… «What…Nope.»

For an hour, I did not move a muscle. I could feel the earth turn… The eye… Here the spider spinning in the house the grinding crumble of decay. Then something else, dull and muffled, yet… Of course, it was the beating of the old man’s heart. They knew. So strong for such an old man… Louder then, and still louder… During the winter here I know, I had to stop it…

Then it was over. The heart was still; the eye was dead; I was free! But there was still work to be done. I replaced the planks so cleverly, no eye -not even his- could have found anything wrong. 

«Ah?  So soon»

«The neighbors reported a scream; we’re obliged to investigate.»

«A scream? My own, gentlemen; a childish dream. But come in please! You want to look through the house…»


«That is our duty. Where’s the old man?»

«Gone to the city.»

«You’re up very early this morning…»

«The dream I spoke of, it awakened me.»

«When did he leave?»

«The old man? Yesterday.»

«How long will he be away?»

«Two weeks, perhaps longer.»

«Nothing out of place here.»

«There is his bed, here his cupboard, all in order…»

«Wide in order.»

«All quite in order.»

«Yes, nothing amiss. You understand that once a complaint is made we have no choice . . .»

«Stay please! […?] I was making tea; a hot drink will make for […?]». Surely it would surprise good people how much evil the night conceals from their eyes, but not yours to be sure. «Wh-…wh… what did you say, sir? Yes of course, the hot water.» It wouldn’t […?] the bare boards… «I’m a little less tidy with the old man away.»

Then I heard it. It might have been a hand, a clock, but no. Louder, and still louder. They must hear it. They just sit and talk and talk… They must. Of course they do! They know, they do. They’re torturing me, watching me, […?] on that eye that I… «STOP it! Stop it you devils! Yes, yes I did it. It’s there under the floor. Oh stop it: it is the beating of his hideous heart!»

TRUE! I’m nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous; but why will you say that I am mad?

♥  The Tell-Tale Heart[Jules Dassin’s 1941 short movie]

♥   The Tell-Tale Heart   ⇓  [2003:  movie? play?]

Jack Cardiff, at 90, lit this gem as one of his last films in his extraordinary career spanning 8 decades. Directed by Stephanie Sinclaire. Made entirely at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, London.

¤  The Black Cat  ⇐[Read]

‘The Black Cat’  ⇓  A short movie by Rob Green

The story takes place in a prison where a prisoner (Poe himself) tells the tale of how he killed his wife to an inquisitor. He claims that he was driven to do the crime by the presence of her evil, satanic black cat.

¤  The Masque of the Red Death ⇐[Read & Listen]

◊  Silence  ↓  [read by James Mason]

A Demon recounts the story of how he tormented a man in the Congo. The man was seated on a rock on the edge of a churning river. The river was bordered by water-lillies and surrounded by a forest of poisonous flowers. The man trembled in fear but did not run from the world he saw. Demon then cast a spell that turned the world into a violent one. The winds raged. The earth shook, but the man remained still trembling. The Demon then cast a spell of silence. The Earth ceased to move. The wind stopped as did the water. There was complete silence. The man stood and strained to hear something. The man was then overcome with terror and «fled afar off, in haste.»

«LISTEN to me,» said the Demon as he placed his hand upon my head. «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.

«The waters of the river have a saffron and sickly hue; and they flow not onwards to the sea, but palpitate forever and forever beneath the red eye of the sun with a tumultuous and convulsive motion. For many miles on either side of the river’s oozy bed is a pale desert of gigantic water-lilies. They sigh one unto the other in that solitude, and stretch towards the heaven their long and ghastly necks, and nod to and fro their everlasting heads. And there is an indistinct murmur which cometh out from among them like the rushing of subterrene water. And they sigh one unto the other.

«But there is a boundary to their realm–the boundary of the dark, horrible, lofty forest. There, like the waves about the Hebrides, the low underwood is agitated continually. But there is no wind throughout the heaven. And the tall primeval trees rock eternally hither and thither with a crashing and mighty sound. And from their high summits, one by one, drop everlasting dews. And at the roots strange poisonous flowers lie writhing in perturbed slumber. And overhead, with a rustling and loud noise, the gray clouds rush westwardly forever, until they roll, a cataract, over the fiery wall of the horizon. But there is no wind throughout the heaven. And by the shores of the river Zaire there is neither quiet nor silence.

«It was night, and the rain fell; and falling, it was rain, but, having fallen, it was blood. And I stood in the morass among the tall and the rain fell upon my head –and the lilies sighed one unto the other in the solemnity of their desolation.

«And, all at once, the moon arose through the thin ghastly mist, and was crimson in color. And mine eyes fell upon a huge gray rock which stood by the shore of the river, and was lighted by the light of the moon. And the rock was gray, and ghastly, and tall, –and the rock was gray. 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 them. 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.

«And I looked upwards, and there stood a man upon the summit of the rock; and I hid myself among the water-lilies that I might discover the actions of the man. And the man was tall and stately in form, and was wrapped up from his shoulders to his feet in the toga of old Rome. And the outlines of his figure were indistinct–but his features were the features of a deity; for the mantle of the night, and of the mist, and of the moon, and of the dew, had left uncovered the features of his face. And his brow was lofty with thought, and his eye wild with care; and, in the few furrows upon his cheek I read the fables of sorrow, and weariness, and disgust with mankind, and a longing after solitude.

«And the man sat upon the rock, and leaned his head upon his hand, and looked out upon the desolation. He looked down into the low unquiet shrubbery, and up into the tall primeval trees, and up higher at the rustling heaven, and into the crimson moon. And I lay close within shelter of the lilies, and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude; –but the night waned, and he sat upon the rock.

«And the man turned his attention from the heaven, and looked out upon the dreary river Zaire, and upon the yellow ghastly waters, and upon the pale legions of the water-lilies. And the man listened to the sighs of the water-lilies, and to the murmur that came up from among them. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude; –but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.

«Then I went down into the recesses of the morass, and waded afar in among the wilderness of the lilies, and called unto the hippopotami which dwelt among the fens in the recesses of the morass. And the hippopotami heard my call, and came, with the behemoth, unto the foot of the rock, and roared loudly and fearfully beneath the moon. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude; –but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.

«Then I cursed the elements with the curse of tumult; and a frightful tempest gathered in the heaven where, before, there had been no wind. And the heaven became livid with the violence of the tempest –and the rain beat upon the head of the man –and the floods of the river came down –and the river was tormented into foam –and the water-lilies shrieked within their beds –and the forest crumbled before the wind –and the thunder rolled –and the lightning fell –and the rock rocked to its foundation. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude; –but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.

«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 up its pathway to 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.

«And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the man, and his countenance was one with terror. And, hurriedly, he raised his head from his hand, and stood forth upon the rock and listened. But there was no voice throughout the vast illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock were SILENCE. And the man shuddered, and turned his face away, and fled afar off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more.»

Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi –in the iron-bound, melancholy volumes of the Magi. Therein, I say, are glorious histories of the Heaven, and of the Earth, and of the mighty sea –and of the Genii that over-ruled the sea, and the earth, and the lofty heaven. There was much lore too in the sayings which were said by the Sybils; and holy, holy things were heard of old by the dim leaves that trembled around Dodona –but, as Allah liveth, that fable which the Demon told me as he sat by my side in the shadow of the tomb, I hold to be the most wonderful of all! And as the Demon made an end of his story, he fell back within the cavity of the tomb and laughed. And I could not laugh with the Demon, and he cursed me because I could not laugh. And the lynx which dwelleth forever in the tomb, came out therefrom, and lay down at the feet of the Demon, and looked at him steadily in the face.


↑ «A Dream Within A Dream»

It was Poe’s last poem written in 1849, ↑ the year of his death. There are versions with slightly different wording. The prototype for Annabel Lee was likely to be his first love, Sarah Elmira Royster. She was 15 and he was 16 and her father put an end to it. Twenty years later they resumed their relationship but Poe died within a year. When Poe was 26 he married his 13 year old cousin Virginia Clemm, (the marriage certificate said she was 21) who died at the age of 25.

¤  Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

The Raven

⇒Edgar Allan Poe  –  The Raven⇐

¤  EAP poetry collection

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