Haunted Palace" is a poem, a ballad. It was published in American Museum
in April 1839. In September of the same year, it was published in Burton's
Gentleman's Magazine as part of "The Fall of the House of Usher," one
of Poe's most famous short stories. In the story, mentally unstable Roderick
Usher sings the ballad while playing a guitar.
there was a majestic palace from which a great king ruled his dominion
with reason and common sense. So good and beautiful was this place that
angels abided there. On occasion, the palace halls resounded with wondrous
voices singing the praises of the monarch. "But evil
things, in robes of sorrow, / Assailed the monarch's high estate."
These evil things may have been in the form of immorality, disease, or
any other destructive force that corrupts, subverts, or sickens a human
being." Now the palace is haunted with
Vast forms, that
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out
but smile no more.
Palace: Metaphor for an Ill-Fated
palace and the king represent a man who falls to mental and physical ruin
after an unspecified evil possesses him. The lines that metaphorically
present the palace as a human are as follows:
4: Reared its head (the person's head)
Lines 8, 9: Over fabric
half so fair! / Banners yellow, glorious, golden (blond hair)
Line 18: Through two
luminous windows (eyes)
Line 25: Pearl and ruby
(teeth and lips)
Line 26: Palace door
Is the King?
ill-fated king, identified in Line 22 as Porphyrogene, could refer to any
or all of the following:
Any human being who has had
a good life but one day falls to ruin in the form of insanity or another
form of mental illness, as well as physical and material material ruin,
as in Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." In this story,
Roderick Usher, master of a mansion, suffers mental deterioration because
of an evil that has been at work in the House of Usher (the mansion itself
and the family) for generations, befouling the residents of the mansion
and causing the mansion itself to decay. Roderick Usher's illness is "a
constitutional and family evil . . . one for which he despaired to find
a remedy," the narrator reports. The narrator hints that the evil is incest.
In one scene, Roderick sings the words to "The Haunted Palace" while playing
a guitar. For an analysis of the "The Fall of the House of Usher" and its
themes, click here.
Baldwin II Porphyrogenitus (1217-1273),
a Latin emperor of Constantinople who was overthrown in 1261. His father
and brother had previously ruled as emperors of Constantinople. He was
of French ancestry on his father's side and Flemish ancestry on his mother's
side. His forebears had gone to the Middle East during the Crusades. In
French, Baldwin II Porphyrogenitus was known as Baudouin Porphyrogénète,
a royal epithet meaning "born to the purple"a color long associated with
emperors, kings, and other rulers.
Edgar Allan Poe himself. He
was known to suffer melancholy, which he attempted to relieve with alcohol.
evil (whether in the form of immorality, disease, or any other destructive
force) can corrupt, subvert, or sicken a human being.
are examples of figures of speech in "The Haunted Palace":
yellow, glorious, golden,
/ On its roof did float and flow,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty / Was
but to sing
Simile: While, like
a ghastly rapid river, / Through the pale door / A hideous throng rush
Metaphor: And all
with pearl and ruby glowing / Was the fair palace door (pearl: teeth, ruby:
lips, door: mouth)
and Word Choice
atmosphere of "The Haunted Palace" is at first idyllic, dreamlike, angelic.
Then it becomes nightmarish. To create the idyllic atmosphere, Poe uses
uses words and phrases such as greenest of our valleys, fair and stately,
seraph, glorious, golden, gentle, sweet, and luminous. To create
the nightmarish atmosphere, he uses words and phrases such as evil,
robes of sorrow, mourn, desolate, dim-remembered, entombed, discordant,
ghastly, and hideous.
Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston. After being orphaned
at age two, he was taken into the home of a childless coupleJohn Allan,
a successful businessman in Richmond, Va., and his wife. Allan was believed
to be Poes godfather. At age six, Poe went to England with the Allans
and was enrolled in schools there. After he returned with the Allans to
the U.S. in 1820, he studied at private schools, then attended the University
of Virginia and the U.S. Military Academy, but did not complete studies
at either school. After beginning his literary career as a poet and prose
writer, he married his young cousin, Virginia Clemm. He worked for several
magazines and joined the staff of the New York Mirror newspaper
in 1844. All the while, he was battling a drinking problem.
the Mirror published his poem The Raven in January 1845, Poe achieved
national and international fame. Besides pioneering the development of
the short story, Poe invented the format for the detective story as we
know it today. He also was an outstanding literary critic. Despite the
acclaim he received, he was never really happy because of his drinking
and because of the deaths of several people close to him, including his
wife in 1847. He frequently had trouble paying his debts. It is believed
that heavy drinking was a contributing cause of his death in Baltimore
on October 7, 1849.
The Haunted Palace By Edgar Allan Poe
Written and Published in
1 In the greenest of our valleys
Once a fair and stately
Radiant palacereared its
In the monarch Thought's
It stood there!
spread a pinion Over fabric half so fair!.................................8
Stanza 1 Notes
Metaphor for a person. For additional information, see
Palace: Symbol of an Ill-Fated
dominion: The monarch exercises right reason and common sense.
highest order of angels, each having three wings
wing or a section of a wing
yellow, glorious, golden, On its roof
did float and flow, (Thisall thiswas in the
olden Time long ago,) And every gentle air that
dallied, In that sweet day, Along the ramparts
plumed and pallid, A wingèd odor went
Stanza 2 Notes
. . . golden: hair
top of the head
3 Wanderers in that happy
valley, Through two
luminous windows, saw Spirits moving musically, To a lute's
well-tunèd law, Round about a throne where,
sitting (Porphyrogene!) In state his glory well-befitting, The ruler of the realm was
Stanza 3 Notes
luminous windows: eyes
Stringed instrument, plucked like a guitar, with a long neck and a pear-shaped
body. It was developed in Europe on an Arabic model called an 'Ud (spelled
in Balkan countries).
Possibly a reference to Baldwin II Porphyrogenitus (1217-1273), a Latin
emperor of Constantinople who was overthrown in 1261. His father and brother
had previously ruled as emperors of Constantinople. He was of French ancestry
on his father's side and Flemish ancestry on his mother's side. His forebears
had gone to the Middle East during the Crusades. In French, Baldwin II
Porphyrogenitus was known as Baudouin Porphyrogénète, a royal
epithet meaning "born to the purple"a color long associated with emperors,
kings, and other rulers.
4 And all with pearl
and ruby glowing Was the fair palace
door, Through which came flowing,
flowing, flowing, And sparkling
troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty Was but to sing, In voices of surpassing
beauty, The wit and wisdom of their
Stanza 4 Notes
and ruby: teeth and lips
. . . Echoes: perhaps an example of synesthesia,
a figure of speech in which one sensory experience is described in terms
of another. Here, the Echoes (sound) sparkle (sight).
5 But evil
things, in robes of sorrow, Assailed the monarch's high
estate. (Ah, let us mourn!for never
morrow Shall dawn upon him desolate!) And round about his home,
the glory That blushed and bloomed Is but a dim-remembered
story Of the old time entombed...........................40
Stanza 5 Notes
things: evil in the form of immorality, disease, or any other
destructive force corrupts, subverts, or sickens a human being.
morning, the next day, tomorrow
6 And travellers now, within
that valley, Through the red-litten
windows see Vast forms, that move fantastically To a discordant melody, While, like a ghastly rapid
river, Through the pale door A hideous throng rush out
but smile no more...................48
Stanza 6 Notes
windows: Red eyes, bloodshot eyes; palace windows emitting a
Litten is an archaic word for lighted or lit.
. . . more: an interesting paradox.