The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

“Excuse me miss

my name is Mr. Roddingham

and I must say that you are quite
yes, quite breathtaking indeed

indeed you’ve taken my breath away
stolen it from me.”

“Oh, why thank you.
I don’t know what to say.”

“Say nothing, say no more my dear
beautiful radiant girl

but I shall say to thee come you must
join me
at my Chateaux out in the country
in the Appenines

for such beautiful mountain ranges
wouldn’t be completely
the snow angel treat
of yourself

with your most beautiful roseate cheeks
and good health

and fair skin and voluminous
rapacity and whim

yes you must join me
join me at once
over the candlelight I will send for thee

and bring you
a delivery
to me
to my house where I will serve
you wine and foods to delight the senses

and show you the many
fine things I have collected.”

“Well, Mr. Roddingham when you put it that
way I guess
I must oblige, it all sounds so wonderful so fine

and the words with which you paint
me too are divine.”

“Then it is all set, and I am looking forward to it
to you
my fair maiden fair damsel fair woman
of the earth and sky
to join me tonight
to join me and dine.”

“Welcome, welcome, my sweet dear
come, come here take off your coat
there let me have it

come, come sit
but first wait let me show you
my books

yes, i will show you my books
i will show you all the nooks and crannies
of my residential existential
surroundings here in the Appenine mountains”

and here let me show you my paintings
you will see
you will see paintings like you have never seen
for these paintings
exist nowhere in the world
except here in my home
in the Apennines

See this one how beautiful breathtaking
landscape painting tree and lake
and this sketched and ink portrait
and this one

this one is the most fantastic
none other than that
most bombastic King of the Appenines

but these
these are my personal wonderments
those which have come from my own pen
and ointments and paint
which I have poured
over the soul of the canvas tapestry

won’t you come closer
come and see

why I say here you are
take this cup of wine this goblet of mine
and drink let the crimson hue flow between your lips
and the silver chalice

let your sweet mouth imbibe the flowing liquid

let your gentle facial state relax
and the cheeks
on your face be at ease

if you don’t

if you do please

“Why, Mr. Roddingham you certainly
are a charmer,
and, well, passionate to say the least”

“Yes, my fair maiden,
passion indeed.”

“And try of this pheasant my dear girl
consume the asparagus and bread

delight in the dishes and chocolates
and mousse

fill yourself with wellbeing and be

“And how do you feel, now that you’ve
taken in so much.”

“Why, this has been so lovely
Mr. Roddingham

Thank you so much.”

“O, I can assure you the pleasure’s
been all mine
to see you here in this castle of mine
to have you
all to myself
your presence to drape itself upon my walls
and floor like a shadow
a picture of splendor
and more”

What more could a man like me
ask for?

“Wait right here, next to the candles
glare and blaze

I will be right back don’t go away

I wish only to get my easle
my easel and paint
and brushes and chair and other such things

please do not leave
for I will be right back
right back indeed to paint your most angelic
so that I may have it for all times
for posterity

to hang on my wall here in this
very spot
this oval portrait

“Well, certainly, if you insist.”

“Yes, there you are if you don’t mind
if you wouldn’t mind
as it were be of no mind

if you would be so kind as to place
your hands upon your lap
your waste to sit here on this seat
to let your hair flow back behind you
to repose
to relax
to compose and just wait

while I now begin to consecrate
this relationship
with picture and paint

to drawn and brush my way
to exstasy in hopes of you being forever
here with me

on my wall
of course

that’s what I mean.”

and how are you doing
I hope this is not too much of a delay

I’m sure there are much goings on in the world
and you’d wish to be on your way
to return before the night has turned
too far away

“Oh, that’s quite alright.
It’s not so bad, but how long
do you think I should be like this?”

Oh, not long, not long at all
I’m just beginning to see its all becoming clear

yes the picture is forming
its taking shape

I see it now
I see your face
I see your hair and your arms and your legs
I see your hips and your waist

yes, yes
the picture is forming shape

yes, yes
this is what I am to create

this is what I am to paint

this is the angelic vision
make no mistake

that you have lent to me with your visage
with yourself

your face transposed here onto my canvass
inside this Oval Portrait magnum opus

my greatest work
my greatest life sake!

“Umm, Mr. Roddingham”

“Not now, my dear
now’s not the time”

I must keep going I must finish my painting!
I must paint you in pure being
just think just begin to use your imagining

but do not move do not quake
do not shiver do not stir

just sit there sit there sit there
while I paint


I have done it
it is done!

Here it is come come girl and see
my eyes are transfixed
here on this painting
of you of your beauty of your life

yes here in the picture come here
and see what you have done


and then I turn
and look in the direction
of the girl

and I scream out

“This is Life!”

and she

dead on my floor