The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

It was Autumn when I received the letter
from my dear friend Roderick
Roderick Usher

and so the letter did read:

“Dear Friend, I entreat
that you come
come and visit me”

“Please do come and visit me
one day someday soon
as I sit here in my bedroom
writing to you

I hear the sounds the groans and creaks
of this mansion-like gothic monstrosity

this house this castle this city by the Sea
left to me by my father and his before
to him

passed down generation to generation
ghastly damned walled in cement stone
flooring

with the windows shuttering
wind blowing

the dust the must the moths and spider
webbings

I can hear it I can feel it

GLOWING”

Well, certainly this letter wasn’t the most inviting
I mean
it isn’t the sort of thing I’d usually entertain
for the sake of vacation

but this was my dear friend
Roderick Usher

and so I must go see him
and make sure
all is

proper

I arrive there driving up to that house
that house out in the darkness
in the rain

and I get out of my car
and make my way to the steps

O, how I hope my friend is OK
stuck inside these hellish gates

with the sense of scene and time
out of place
with the sense of being lost in
some outer space

with the creeps beginning already
to penetrate

into my bones
into my brain

I hope he is home
I hope he is sane

and I ring the bell
I knock on the door that splintering wood

and out walks Mr. Usher
Roderick my friend confidant
man in his smoking jacket and glasses and tweed

his cigar-pipe puffing up spiraling smoking
need

his slippered feet and bare white legs
hairs black and grey

and he says

“My dear friend, I am so glad you could come and
join us.”

“Us?” I say

and he says

“Yes.”

“Did I not mention it? Was it
not in the letter? I have my sister here
and you must meet her”

“Of course” I reply with courtesy so common
it fell to the floor like a leadened weight

I will acquaint with her and she with I
in this castle this chateaux this mansion
and masquerade ball
this house and home you do find yourself
in in this moment

“Splendid” replied Roderick
and so he then did
proceed
to show me his magnificent collection of gothic paintings

How appropriate did they seem there strewn on the walls
paintings of men and women and horses and girls
and trees with long dropping green canopy leaves
and fruit untasted pears and pearls and vases
and the bitten croissant

Yes, I marveled at his paintings which were quite marvelous
and I asked him when I was to meet his fair sister

and he mentioned she was sleeping for the moment
yes a long moment indeed

he says to me
“She sleeps she sleeps catatonically
Right now she has been sleeping for weeks, yes I believe,
she sleep she sleeps she sleeps so peacefully
but go and see her
cheeks are still rosy. Yes she is perfectly alive
this is just her habit, to sleep as much as she’d like
as her mind does confide itself to its innermost
corner-rooms, where she can dust and broom
and keep up her own muse, tuned out to our
annoyances and clamorings
down here in my living room air”

“Oh,” I said, starting to feel
a bit tender

hoping I hadn’t encroached when I entered
into something far out of my league
out of my way
out of where I would otherwise be going
to stay

and Roderick says to me “See this house
this house of my father and of his father and his too
this house there is so little to do
it sucks my life blood it feeds on my soul
with its cavernous bombastic floor sounds
when I walk
with its arches
low hanging echoing talk
with its low light dimly with its always smoking
ash chimney
with its grey panneled ceilings and well-thought
out meanings and riddling winding starecases
and torrents and spires”

I see all these things and I do admire

“Yes, but do you FEEL them? He asks me
grasping at me, at my wrist at my throat
begging me

“Can you FEEL what I FEEL when I FEEL
it so strong, when I feel it clutching my chest
breathing down my neck wretching at my heart
of hearts!”

and I say

“Yes, well, I imagine yes. I mean, well,
something like that.”

and he says “Come, sing with me!
as I play” and he grabs for his mandolin
taking it in those long slender pale hands
of his

and he begins strumming vigorously
up and down up and down
moving to and fro backwards forwards
shaking his hips his head
he’s got that crazed look in his eyes
trying to keep tune
but with what I don’t know!

and I sing along with him, yes I sing
anything anything of course
to appease to comfort my dear friend
Roderick Usher

in clearly this moment of woe
we dance we dance and sing
we move and sway within that house

with its GLOW

we move and sway
and sing and let our voices hit the archways
and ceilings
and let them fall on the busts of Pallas
and push open doors and windows and curtains

we allow our voices to be thrown giddy zigzagging
through the mildew through the fungi
and spirules we open up with
energetic drunkenness like some irrascible
opium eaters with nervous energy

Yes!

and then Roderick ushers me into my ebony
bedroom where I will stay with the low lamp
shade

and thrown carpet strewn on the ground before
me
and he instructs me to take off my shoes
to rest
to try my best to relax

he is such a gracious host this
man
my dear friend from way back when
trapped in this cursed castle of Sand

and the next morning I come down and find
him and the table and chairs all ready
set

toast jam and tea

and he has sweet music playing
in the background
with the sun shining through the greying-green
tinted fungal colourings of the window
shards
and for a moment there it doesn’t seem
so creepy
as it had the past evening

there in the morning repose
I suppose

eating my jam

and

toast

and then Roderick says to me
“Come, it is so
my sister is dead. This I know.”
And he takes me to her quarters
and I see her lying there on the bed
and her cheeks are rosy but he assures
me she must be dead

and that we must lift her yes
must take
her
to the vaulted chamber basement below
and intern her there
this must be so

so we grab her and I pick her up
putting her over my shoulder
this corpse of a girl
and we walk the three of us
together through that house
with its glowing embers
firey smoke chambers
and mouse-movement floor boards

down

down

down to the basement below
where I rest her head
on a pillow of hay-straw

and Roderick and I go
back upstairs

to console

and I feel sorrow for my friend’s
anguish realizing his sister has passed
through his hands
like so many grains of tiny corpuscule sand

and I find resolve and pride
in choosing to stay another week with my dear
friend Roderick
to keep his emotions checked
at bay

in this GLOWING house of woe
and frame

and the days go by about a week or so
and I see Roderick is feeling a bit nervous
anxious or so it seems

his body ticking clicking his feet jangling
his head twitching to the side

neck craining eyes wide

and he kept speaking of the house the house
the HOUSE

how that house oppressed him
how he felt its torturous grasp upon him
this inheritance
this place where no mortal may rest

this burden black on his heart
and lungs

coughing up the flem and mucous
and pus
of I got to get out of
here

but how

and on that seventh day in that cursed house
I am sitting with him he in his favorite red velvet
crimson lined studded smoking chair
and me in my own wooden framed fair

and all of a sudden
the windows begin to slam
there is a whirlwind outside
there is rain and hail and lightning there is thunder
on the distant mountains in the forests

there are evil spirits
monstrous beings and creatures and spiraling
gyrating energy and elation

there is roaring whirling warring
of good and evil the heavens are being ripped
apart right before our eyes

the house shakes
Roderick shivers quakes

I try to hold on but I too yell out

“For Heaven’s Sake!”

and then Roderick screams

“She is alive!”

and at that moment the chamber
door does swing open wide

and in steps Madeline
with hands out wide

and falls on me
falls on my side
and her arms droop around my neck

like a weight
she is corpse-like
lunging at my neck

and Roderick too there falls
upon me
on my legs
grasping gnawing clawing with his
fingernails finding flesh

he too corpse-like

YES!

they are both corpses

both DEAD

and I run out of that cursed house
fast as I can

I run out to jump into my car
to get away to go far
to go as far as I can from this miserable
place

from this house

which GLOWS

there in the

DARKNESS