The Conqueror Worm
by Edgar Allan Poe

Story copied from the Wikisource.

Lo! 'tis a gala night
     Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
     In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
     A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
     The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
     Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly-
     Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
     That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
     Invisible Woe!

That motley drama- oh, be sure
     It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
     By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
     To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
     And Horror the soul of the plot.

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.

Out- out are the lights- out all!
     And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
     Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
     Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
     And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

Public domain The Conqueror Worm is currently in the Public Domain. This text can now be legally distributed as the work was published before 1923 and the author died in 1849 therefore the 70 year extension has expired.