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The City in the Sea

Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most important and influential American writers of the 19th century. He was the first author to try to make a professional living as a writer. His poetry alone would ensure his spot in the literary canon. Poe's notable verses range from the early masterpiece “To Helen” to the dark, mysterious “Ulalume.” From “The Raven,” which made him world-famous upon its publication in 1845, to “Annabel Lee,” the posthumously published eulogy for a maiden “in a kingdom by the sea.” The City in the Sea is a poem and its final version was published in 1845, but an earlier version was published as "The Doomed City" in 1831 and, later, as "The City of Sin". The poem begins with the statement that Death established a city beneath the waves of the sea where the souls of all people go for their eternal rest. The city has familiar structures, shrines, palaces, and tower, but they nonetheless defy full description because they "resemble nothing that is ours." It is a sad realm that is not illuminated from above by the rays of Heaven but by an infernal light from below, the hellish beams moving up shrines, "Whose weathered friezes intertwine/The viol, the violet, and the vine." The buildings and their shadows are indistinguishable so that the entire city seems to float on the air. It is one permanent fixture is the "proud tower" from which Death governs all. The city is filled with graves, and the sea itself is perfectly still, "hideously serene." You can listen online to free English audiobook “The City in the Sea” by Edgar Allan Poe on our website.

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