“The Haunted Palace” is one of Edgar Allen Poe’s mysterious and phantasmagoric poems. Written in the same year as “The Devil in the Belfry,” and included in his short story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Haunted Palace” is another tale of innocence and happiness now corroded with sorrow and madness. It is fairly easy to say that “The Haunted Palace” is a metaphor for Poe’s own ghostly troubled mind, more than it is about a decaying palace. For in 1839, it was found in a book that the main character in “The Fall of the House of Usher” comes across. In the context of its appearance in “Usher,” it is startlingly clear that this is no fable of earthly decay, but one of mental and spiritual ruin.
“In the greenest of our valleys,” he begins in the first stanza, “Once a fair and stately palace -- Radiant palace -- reared its head.” The lush and beautiful valley is nothing more than a glimpse into his past, when he was a bright budding youth. The “Radiant palace” is a symbol for his once sharp and clear mind that was filled with “good angels” and pure thoughts. He gives hints to the true nature of the palace further in the stanza, by proclaiming “In the monarch thought’s dominion -- It stood there!” clearly the monarch is Poe, and his though dominion is his mind.
In the second stanza he describes how the smells of “gentle air” always wound its way around the palace. He continues to paint the picture of a wonderful valley, where music moved constantly about, and where the king of the land sat for the valley to see. Poe’s childhood still brings out nostalgia of a prosperous and enchanting time, and where he could be seen as the king, fully in charge of the thoughts that lived in his valley of a bra...
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...ver coming through the “pale door” that had been “Pearl and ruby glowing”. The Pearl and Ruby seem to be his younger self, white complex with rosy cheeks, and now his face is pale and gray and “hideous”. With the rivers of thought now flowing horrid ideas and contemplation, he can “Smile no more,” but he does hear a “Laugh.” The Laugh of insanity slowly creeping in on him, dances its way through the ruins of the palace peering out of sunken bloodshot eye’s of Poe, and his older gray face. Poe was only thirty years old when he wrote “The Haunted Palace” and included it in “The Fall of the House of Usher.” He would only live for ten more years, and write many more gothic classics, each wrestling with death, insanity, and loneliness, but perhaps this poem describes his view of himself better than any other of his works. This is his self portrait and self prophecy.
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