The City in the Sea
by Edgar Allan Poe
Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.
There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol’s diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.
But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.
My travel journal to <destination unknown>,
October 10th 1839
Today I still made my way through the forest following the setting sun down the west. I still have plenty of food and water, and my backpack is still well packed with equipment. I feel like at some point I have to be coming up on something special worth telling and writing about. I’ll keep continuing until I stumble upon something, let’s hope for the best.
October 11th 1839
Today I still made my way through the forest, it became more open and the terrain started to change. I was still chasing the sun, when suddenly I saw, smelled and heard the sea. The water was too salty to drink, so my reserves couldn’t be refilled. I was admiring the greatness of the refreshing sea and was happy that the scenery changed after so many days in the forest. The water was calm and only a few waves were crashing on the shore. Suddenly I see a single little light shining out from the water. I tried to see what it was and could make out a tall structure. I got my binoculars from my bag an started to look again, hoping they would help me to better focus my sight on the structure. What I saw was incredible, it looked like a part of a city flooded by the sea. The sun was setting so I decided to set up camp and go to sleep. Tomorrow I’m going to investigate the sight further, let’s hope for the best.
October 12th 1839
Today I woke up and my mission of the day was to investigate the structures in the water further. I didn’t see the light in the water anymore, but I noticed that the water level was significantly lower. The water level decreased and the structures were exposed to the sunlight, something it probably hadn’t seen for a very long time. The structures were part of a very big city. The place looked like there hadn’t been anyone in a few hundred years. The feeling around here was very strange. I decided to walk down to the city, this could be the special thing that I was looking for on this journey. Once I got down to the city level I started to explore. The strange feeling was still present and had become stronger. I saw a lot of buildings, the city must have been a bustling city once. I wandered for a couple of hours and saw a lot of the city. A palace, towers and shrines to name a few things. Nothing looked familiar to the present day, I had never seen structures like this in my life. The feeling was still very strange and I could tell that something had been going on here at some point in history. It was really quiet and the light from the sun disappeared, even though it shouldn’t have been time for it to hide behind the horizon yet. But the sunlight was replaced by a soft light coming from the city. A light which lit up the city, I saw domes, spires and huge walls, all seem to have been decorated with sculpted ivy and flowers. There were also a lot of decorated shrines. I explored a part of the city today, the rest will have to wait until tomorrow. I set up camp again, ate, drank and went to sleep, let’s hope for the best.
October 13th 1839
Today I woke up feeling very nauseous and dizzy. I was going to explore the rest of the city, but I didn’t know how far I would come. I started by walking farther in the city. I saw graves and tombstones everywhere. The nausea became worse and I had a bad feeling about the whole city. It felt like something or someone was crawling into my head and speaking to me. ‘In this City Death has the throne, in this City the bad, the worst and the best have gone to their eternal rest’. It was a very strange feeling and confirmed my assumption that there was something very odd about this place. ‘Welcome to His realm’, the voice continued to say, ‘here in the far West below sea level’. I looked around and saw things, that I could not really make out, in the gaping graves in the ground. Then a breeze started to kick up. The ground started to shake and the bad feeling I had about the whole situation and place only got worse. I started to run towards the place where I descended into the City. While I was running the ground started to shake even harder and I felt the City descending further down into the earth. I stumbled over many what seem to be stone body’s, because the light coming from the City decreased. After a lot of running and many stone body encounters, I reached the shore again and climbed back up. When I tried to look back over to the city, it had disappeared. The sea was back again but it was the only thing surrounding me. The city wasn’t the only thing that had disappeared, the sun was also nowhere to be seen. It was pitch black and the only thing that I saw was the moon standing high in the sky.
So here I stand in the middle of the sea, I’m still hoping for the best…