Edgar Poe, The fall of the House of Usher
During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn
of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I
had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary
tract of country ; and at length found myself, as the shades of the
evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.
upon the scene before me - upon the mere House , and the simple
landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the
vacant eye-like windows - upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few
white trunks of decayed trees - with an utter depression of soul
which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the
after-dream of the reveller upon opium - the bitter lapse into
everyday life - the hideous dropping off of the veil.
What was it - I paused to think -
what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of
It was this deficiency, I considered,
while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of
the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while
speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long
lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other - it was this
deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the consequent
undeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the patrimony with the
name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge the
original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation
of the " House of Usher" - an appellation which seemed to include, in
the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the
And it might have been for this
reason only, that, when I again uplifted my eyes to the House itself,
from its image in the pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy - a
fancy so ridiculous, indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid
force of the sensations which oppressed me.
Noticing these things, I rode over a short causeway to the House .
Hitherto she had
steadily borne up against the pressure of her malady, and had not
betaken herself finally to bed ; but, on the closing in of the
evening of my arrival at the House , she succumbed (as her brother
told me at night with inexpressible agitation) to the prostrating
power of the destroyer.
I shall ever bear about me a memory of the many solemn hours I
thus spent alone with the master of the House of Usher.
I will not deny that when I
called to mind the sinister countenance of the person whom I met upon
the staircase, on the day of my arrival at the House , I had no desire
to oppose what I regarded as at best but a harmless, and by no means
an unnatural, precaution.
We replaced and screwed down the lid, and, having secured the
door of iron, made our way, with toil, into the scarcely less gloomy
apartments of the upper portion of the House .
A whirlwind had
apparently collected its force in our vicinity ; for there were
frequent and violent alterations in the direction of the wind ; and
the exceeding density of the clouds (which hung so low as to press
upon the turrets of the House ) did not prevent our perceiving the
life-like velocity with which they flew careering from all points
against each other, without passing away into the distance.
Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light,
and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued ;
for the vast House and its shadows were alone behind me.
While I gazed, this fissure rapidly
widened - there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind - the entire
orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight - my brain reeled as
I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder - there was a long tumultuous
shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters - and the deep and
dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments
of the House of Usher.