Saturday, September 16, 2006

Conqueror Worm

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 seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

I love Edgar Allan Poe. Besides the fact that he is the master of the macabre, he is also a sci-fi writer. Yes, dear reader, science fiction was what you heard. When I read that in a book entitled The Road To Science Fiction (which detailed the evolution of sci-fi from Gilgamesh to H.G. Wells), my eyes fairly popped. I mean, for a guy whose all-consuming topic is a beautiful woman dying (specifically) and death (generally) the assertion was a nasty shock.

This is the same guy who wrote Annabel Lee (it was many and many a year ago/ in a kingdom by the sea). And he's a sci-fi guy. But really, the assertion makes sense. I think it was based on the premise of Poe's lesser known works which tackled topics like mesmerism and cryptography.

Don't ask me what mesmerism is---I barely understand it. All I know is that it's some sort of fancy medical procedure which was controversial in the early 1800's where the patient is hypnotized and thus, cured. The only other time I've read about it (besides Poe's) was just recently, in Alduous Huxley's Island. And Huxley is definitely a sci-fi guy. Cryptography, on the other hand, is about code-making and code-breaking. I'm sure you've read about it in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

Anyway, the poem above is entitled Conqueror Worm. You may want to read to whole thing; it's nice and gory and disturbing. It's part of Poe's short story Ligeia, where the beautiful woman who died wrote it. Sushal no?

Oh, speaking of nice and gory and disturbing: read William Golding's The Lord of the Flies. I just finished it and was duly shaken. Yeah, I know, I know, I got the gall to call myself a good reader and yet only read Golding's most popular work yesterday. Well, I meant to, but I never got around to it.

The point of all this: if you like beautiful and disturbing literature, you may want to read Golding and Poe.


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