08 November 2009

The Conqueror Worm…… Edgar Allan Poe……. 1843

Poe uses Shakespearian motifs to examine human mortality:

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 out their Condor wings
Invisible Woe!

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 angels 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.

Study Notes…. http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/Worm.html

lonesome latter years: time near the end of life
bewinged: having wings
bedight: dressed, arrayed
drowned in tears: example of hyperbole
play of hopes and fears: life
barks: small sailing vessels.
music: sounds of nature, such as wind
breathes: plays. Breathes is an implied metaphor comparing the sound of the orchestra with that of the wind.
spheres: the orbs making up the universe; the planets and other celestial bodies
end rhyme: A; B, A; B, C, B, C, B.

Mimes...God on high: mimics, pantomimists. They are pretending to be godlike, for they think themselves superior beings. But they are but puppets manipulated by dark forces (the vast formless things that tantalize them with shifting images that attract them).
Mimes, mutter, mumble, and mere: alliteration
vast formless things...Condor wings: winged demons that present scenes of temptation to the actors. A condor is a large vulture native to North and South America.
It has been suggested that the movement of the condor wings represents the opening and closing of the theater's curtains. However, this interpretation cannot be correct, for Poe writes in the last stanza that the curtain "comes down." There is only one curtain, not two.
Naiad airs: Peaceful, gentle breezes or qualities
end rhyme: A, B, A, B, C, B, C, B

motley: having many elements or much diversity; made up of various types of people; having many colors.
Phantom: hopes and dreams
seize it not: The pursuers are unable to catch up with the Phantom.
through a circle . . . spot: This imagery recalls the ancient Greek myths of Tantalus and Sisyphus. Tantalus was condemned by the gods to thirst for water that always receded when he tried to drink it and to desire fruit on a tree branch that was always out of reach. Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a stone to the top of a hill. But every time he neared the top, the stone rolled back down to the bottom. The actors in Poe's drama run through a circular corridor that spiral inwards. When they reach the end of the corridor, they stand where they started. Then they repeated their journey, only to wind up again and again where they started.
end rhyme: A, B, A, B, C, B, C, B

rout: noisy, disorderly crowd
amid the mimic: alliteration
scenic solitude: alliteration
mortal pangs: deadly desire; hunger
end rhyme: A, B, A, B, C, B, C, B
in human gore imbued: filled or colored with clotting blood

Out–out are the lights–out all: anaphora.
The curtain, a funeral pall: metaphor
End rhyme: A, B, A, B, A.
Other rhyme: Wan and Man are eye rhyme–that, is the vowels in each word are the same, but their pronunciations are different. Affirm and Worm are end rhyme when compared with each other but near rhyme when compared with form and storm.



1.To design the 4 players of the poem ie; The Angels, the Mimes, the Formless Beings and the Conqueror Worm.

2.To design the theatre in which the poem unfolds.

Consideration should be taken in account to how the poems heritage should be reflected in the design of these elements.

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