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The Valley of Unrest (1831) by Edgar Allan Poe


"The Valley of Unrest" is a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published as "The Valley Nis" in Poems by Edgar A. Poe. The original version is longer and mentions a woman named Helen. The shorter version has no mention of her. I have included both version of the poem below.

The longer version consists of four individual stanzas of varying lengths while the longer poem is made up of only one stanza and is considerably shorter in length. Both contain a varying rhyme scheme.


The Valley Nis"

Far away - far away -
Far away - as far at least
Lies that valley as the day
Down within the golden East -
All things lovely - are not they
One and all, too far away?

It is called the valley Nis:
And a Syriac tale there is
Thereabout which Time hath said
Shall not be interpreted:
Something about Satan's dart
Something about angel wings -
Much about a broken heart -
All about unhappy things:
But "the valley Nis" at best
Means "the valley of unrest."

Once it smil'd a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell,
Having gone unto the wars -
And the sly, mysterious stars,
With a visage full of meaning,
O'er th' unguarded flowers were leaning,
Or the sun-ray dripp'd all red
Thro' tall tulips overhead,
Then grew paler as it fell
On the quiet Asphodel.

Now each visiter shall confess
Nothing there is motionless:
Nothing save the airs that brood
O'er the enchanted solitude,
Save the airs with pinions furled
That slumber o'er that valley-world.
No wind in Heaven, and lo! the trees
Do roll like seas, in Northern breeze,
Around the stormy Hebrides -
No wind in Heaven, and clouds do fly,
Rustling everlastingly,
Thro' the terror-stricken sky,
Rolling, like a waterfall,
O'er thi' horizon's fiery wall -
And Helen, like thy human eye,
Low crouched on Earth, some violets lie,
And, nearer Heaven, some lilies wave
All banner-like, above a grave.
And one by one, from out their tops
Eternal dews come down in drops,
Ah, one by one, from off their stems
Eternal dews come down in gems!

Published in Southern Literary Messenger in .


"The Valley of Unrest

Once it smiled a silent dell 
Where the people did not dwell; 
They had gone unto the wars, 
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars, 
Nightly, from their azure towers, 
To keep watch above the flowers
In the midst of which all day 
The red sun-light lazily lay. 
Now each visiter shall confess 
The sad valley's restlessness. 
Nothing there is motionless - 
Nothing save the airs that brood 
Over the magic solitude. 
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees 
That palpitate like the chill seas 
Around the misty Hebrides! 
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven 
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven 
Unceasingly, from morn till even, 
Over the violets there that lie 
In myriad types of the human eye - 
Over the lilies there that wave 
And weep above a nameless grave! 
They wave: - from out their fragrant tops 
Eternal dews come down in drops. 
They weep: - from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.
They wave; they weep; and the tears, as they well
From the depth of each pallid lily-bell,
Give a trickle and a tinkle and a knel

Published in American Review in .

Next: A Dream

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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 19th Century