The Fall of the House of Usher

by Edgar Allen Poe, 1839

A preview of chapter 1:

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. I
know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a
sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for
the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because
poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the
sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the
scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape
features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eyelike 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 afterdream of the reveller upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life
—the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a
sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of
thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught
of the sublime. What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so
unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a
mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies
that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon
the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are
combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of
thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among
considerations beyond our depth. It was possible, I reflected, that a
mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the
details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to
annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression; and, acting upon this
idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid
tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down—but
with a shudder even more thrilling than before—upon the remodelled
and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems,
and the vacant and eye-like windows. 

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