We passed a few sad hours until eleven o'clock, when the trial was to commence. My father and the rest of the family being obliged to attend as witnesses, I accompanied them to the court. During the whole of this wretched mockery of justice I suffered living torture. It was to be decided whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices would cause the death of two of my fellow beings: one a smiling babe full of innocence and joy, the other far more dreadfully murdered, with every aggravation of infamy that could make the murder memorable in horror. Justine also was a girl of merit and possessed qualities which promised to render her life happy; now all was to be obliterated in an ignominious grave, and I the cause! A thousand times rather would I have confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine, but I was absent when it was committed, and such a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me.
The appearance of Justine was calm. She was dressed in mourning,
and her countenance, always engaging, was rendered, by the
solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful. Yet she appeared
confident in innocence and did not tremble, although gazed on and
execrated by thousands, for all the kindness which her beauty might
otherwise have excited was obliterated in the minds of the
spectators by the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to
have committed. She was tranquil, yet her tranquillity was
evidently constrained; and as her confusion had before been adduced
as a proof of her guilt, she worked up her mind to an appearance of
courage. When she entered the court she threw her eyes round it and
quickly discovered where we were seated. A tear seemed to dim her
eye when she saw us, but she quickly recovered herself, and a look
of sorrowful affection seemed to attest her utter
The trial began, and after the advocate against her had stated
the charge, several witnesses were called. Several strange facts
combined against her, which might have staggered anyone who had not
such proof of her innocence as I had. She had been out the whole of
the night on which the murder had been committed and towards
morning had been perceived by a market-woman not far from the spot
where the body of the murdered child had been afterwards found. The
woman asked her what she did there, but she looked very strangely
and only returned a confused and unintelligible answer. She
returned to the house about eight o'clock, and when one inquired
where she had passed the night, she replied that she had been
looking for the child and demanded earnestly if anything had been
heard concerning him. When shown the body, she fell into violent
hysterics and kept her bed for several days. The picture was then
produced which the servant had found in her pocket; and when
Elizabeth, in a faltering voice, proved that it was the same which,
an hour before the child had been missed, she had placed round his
neck, a murmur of horror and indignation filled the court.
Justine was called on for her defence. As the trial had
proceeded, her countenance had altered. Surprise, horror, and
misery were strongly expressed. Sometimes she struggled with her
tears, but when she was desired to plead, she collected her powers
and spoke in an audible although variable voice.
"God knows," she said, "how entirely I am innocent. But I do not
pretend that my protestations should acquit me; I rest my innocence
on a plain and simple explanation of the facts which have been
adduced against me, and I hope the character I have always borne
will incline my judges to a favourable interpretation where any
circumstance appears doubtful or suspicious."
She then related that, by the permission of Elizabeth, she had
passed the evening of the night on which the murder had been
committed at the house of an aunt at Chene, a village situated at
about a league from Geneva. On her return, at about nine o'clock,
she met a man who asked her if she had seen anything of the child
who was lost. She was alarmed by this account and passed several
hours in looking for him, when the gates of Geneva were shut, and
she was forced to remain several hours of the night in a barn
belonging to a cottage, being unwilling to call up the inhabitants,
to whom she was well known. Most of the night she spent here
watching; towards morning she believed that she slept for a few
minutes; some steps disturbed her, and she awoke. It was dawn, and
she quitted her asylum, that she might again endeavour to find my
brother. If she had gone near the spot where his body lay, it was
without her knowledge. That she had been bewildered when questioned
by the market-woman was not surprising, since she had passed a
sleepless night and the fate of poor William was yet uncertain.
Concerning the picture she could give no account.
"I know," continued the unhappy victim, "how heavily and fatally
this one circumstance weighs against me, but I have no power of
explaining it; and when I have expressed my utter ignorance, I am
only left to conjecture concerning the probabilities by which it
might have been placed in my pocket. But here also I am checked. I
believe that I have no enemy on earth, and none surely would have
been so wicked as to destroy me wantonly. Did the murderer place it
there? I know of no opportunity afforded him for so doing; or, if I
had, why should he have stolen the jewel, to part with it again so
"I commit my cause to the justice of my judges, yet I see no
room for hope. I beg permission to have a few witnesses examined
concerning my character, and if their testimony shall not overweigh
my supposed guilt, I must be condemned, although I would pledge my
salvation on my innocence."
Several witnesses were called who had known her for many years,
and they spoke well of her; but fear and hatred of the crime of
which they supposed her guilty rendered them timorous and unwilling
to come forward. Elizabeth saw even this last resource, her
excellent dispositions and irreproachable conduct, about to fail
the accused, when, although violently agitated, she desired
permission to address the court.
"I am," said she, "the cousin of the unhappy child who was
murdered, or rather his sister, for I was educated by and have
lived with his parents ever since and even long before his birth.
It may therefore be judged indecent in me to come forward on this
occasion, but when I see a fellow creature about to perish through
the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to
speak, that I may say what I know of her character. I am well
acquainted with the accused. I have lived in the same house with
her, at one time for five and at another for nearly two years.
During all that period she appeared to me the most amiable and
benevolent of human creatures. She nursed Madame Frankenstein, my
aunt, in her last illness, with the greatest affection and care and
afterwards attended her own mother during a tedious illness, in a
manner that excited the admiration of all who knew her, after which
she again lived in my uncle's house, where she was beloved by all
the family. She was warmly attached to the child who is now dead
and acted towards him like a most affectionate mother. For my own
part, I do not hesitate to say that, notwithstanding all the
evidence produced against her, I believe and rely on her perfect
innocence. She had no temptation for such an action; as to the
bauble on which the chief proof rests, if she had earnestly desired
it, I should have willingly given it to her, so much do I esteem
and value her."
A murmur of approbation followed Elizabeth's simple and powerful
appeal, but it was excited by her generous interference, and not in
favour of poor Justine, on whom the public indignation was turned
with renewed violence, charging her with the blackest ingratitude.
She herself wept as Elizabeth spoke, but she did not answer. My own
agitation and anguish was extreme during the whole trial. I
believed in her innocence; I knew it. Could the demon who had (I
did not for a minute doubt) murdered my brother also in his hellish
sport have betrayed the innocent to death and ignominy? I could not
sustain the horror of my situation, and when I perceived that the
popular voice and the countenances of the judges had already
condemned my unhappy victim, I rushed out of the court in agony.
The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained
by innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore my bosom and would not
forgo their hold.
I passed a night of unmingled wretchedness. In the morning I
went to the court; my lips and throat were parched. I dared not ask
the fatal question, but I was known, and the officer guessed the
cause of my visit. The ballots had been thrown; they were all
black, and Justine was condemned.
I cannot pretend to describe what I then felt. I had before
experienced sensations of horror, and I have endeavoured to bestow
upon them adequate expressions, but words cannot convey an idea of
the heart-sickening despair that I then endured. The person to whom
I addressed myself added that Justine had already confessed her
guilt. "That evidence," he observed, "was hardly required in so
glaring a case, but I am glad of it, and, indeed, none of our
judges like to condemn a criminal upon circumstantial evidence, be
it ever so decisive."
This was strange and unexpected intelligence; what could it
mean? Had my eyes deceived me? And was I really as mad as the whole
world would believe me to be if I disclosed the object of my
suspicions? I hastened to return home, and Elizabeth eagerly
demanded the result.
"My cousin," replied I, "it is decided as you may have expected;
all judges had rather that ten innocent should suffer than that one
guilty should escape. But she has confessed."
This was a dire blow to poor Elizabeth, who had relied with
firmness upon Justine's innocence. "Alas!" said she. "How shall I
ever again believe in human goodness? Justine, whom I loved and
esteemed as my sister, how could she put on those smiles of
innocence only to betray? Her mild eyes seemed incapable of any
severity or guile, and yet she has committed a murder."
Soon after we heard that the poor victim had expressed a desire
to see my cousin. My father wished her not to go but said that he
left it to her own judgment and feelings to decide. "Yes," said
Elizabeth, "I will go, although she is guilty; and you, Victor,
shall accompany me; I cannot go alone." The idea of this visit was
torture to me, yet I could not refuse. We entered the gloomy prison
chamber and beheld Justine sitting on some straw at the farther
end; her hands were manacled, and her head rested on her knees. She
rose on seeing us enter, and when we were left alone with her, she
threw herself at the feet of Elizabeth, weeping bitterly. My cousin
"Oh, Justine!" said she. "Why did you rob me of my last
consolation? I relied on your innocence, and although I was then
very wretched, I was not so miserable as I am now."
"And do you also believe that I am so very, very wicked? Do you
also join with my enemies to crush me, to condemn me as a
murderer?" Her voice was suffocated with sobs.
"Rise, my poor girl," said Elizabeth; "why do you kneel, if you
are innocent? I am not one of your enemies, I believed you
guiltless, notwithstanding every evidence, until I heard that you
had yourself declared your guilt. That report, you say, is false;
and be assured, dear Justine, that nothing can shake my confidence
in you for a moment, but your own confession."
"I did confess, but I confessed a lie. I confessed, that I might
obtain absolution; but now that falsehood lies heavier at my heart
than all my other sins. The God of heaven forgive me! Ever since I
was condemned, my confessor has besieged me; he threatened and
menaced, until I almost began to think that I was the monster that
he said I was. He threatened excommunication and hell fire in my
last moments if I continued obdurate. Dear lady, I had none to
support me; all looked on me as a wretch doomed to ignominy and
perdition. What could I do? In an evil hour I subscribed to a lie;
and now only am I truly miserable."
She paused, weeping, and then continued, "I thought with horror,
my sweet lady, that you should believe your Justine, whom your
blessed aunt had so highly honoured, and whom you loved, was a
creature capable of a crime which none but the devil himself could
have perpetrated. Dear William! dearest blessed child! I soon shall
see you again in heaven, where we shall all be happy; and that
consoles me, going as I am to suffer ignominy and death."
"Oh, Justine! Forgive me for having for one moment distrusted
you. Why did you confess? But do not mourn, dear girl. Do not fear.
I will proclaim, I will prove your innocence. I will melt the stony
hearts of your enemies by my tears and prayers. You shall not die!
You, my playfellow, my companion, my sister, perish on the
scaffold! No! No! I never could survive so horrible a
Justine shook her head mournfully. "I do not fear to die," she
said; "that pang is past. God raises my weakness and gives me
courage to endure the worst. I leave a sad and bitter world; and if
you remember me and think of me as of one unjustly condemned, I am
resigned to the fate awaiting me. Learn from me, dear lady, to
submit in patience to the will of heaven!"
During this conversation I had retired to a corner of the prison
room, where I could conceal the horrid anguish that possessed me.
Despair! Who dared talk of that? The poor victim, who on the morrow
was to pass the awful boundary between life and death, felt not, as
I did, such deep and bitter agony. I gnashed my teeth and ground
them together, uttering a groan that came from my inmost soul.
Justine started. When she saw who it was, she approached me and
said, "Dear sir, you are very kind to visit me; you, I hope, do not
believe that I am guilty?"
I could not answer. "No, Justine," said Elizabeth; "he is more
convinced of your innocence than I was, for even when he heard that
you had confessed, he did not credit it."
"I truly thank him. In these last moments I feel the sincerest
gratitude towards those who think of me with kindness. How sweet is
the affection of others to such a wretch as I am! It removes more
than half my misfortune, and I feel as if I could die in peace now
that my innocence is acknowledged by you, dear lady, and your
Thus the poor sufferer tried to comfort others and herself. She
indeed gained the resignation she desired. But I, the true
murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my bosom, which
allowed of no hope or consolation. Elizabeth also wept and was
unhappy, but hers also was the misery of innocence, which, like a
cloud that passes over the fair moon, for a while hides but cannot
tarnish its brightness. Anguish and despair had penetrated into the
core of my heart; I bore a hell within me which nothing could
extinguish. We stayed several hours with Justine, and it was with
great difficulty that Elizabeth could tear herself away. "I wish,"
cried she, "that I were to die with you; I cannot live in this
world of misery."
Justine assumed an air of cheerfulness, while she with
difficulty repressed her bitter tears. She embraced Elizabeth and
said in a voice of half-suppressed emotion, "Farewell, sweet lady,
dearest Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend; may heaven, in its
bounty, bless and preserve you; may this be the last misfortune
that you will ever suffer! Live, and be happy, and make others
And on the morrow Justine died. Elizabeth's heart-rending
eloquence failed to move the judges from their settled conviction
in the criminality of the saintly sufferer. My passionate and
indignant appeals were lost upon them. And when I received their
cold answers and heard the harsh, unfeeling reasoning of these men,
my purposed avowal died away on my lips. Thus I might proclaim
myself a madman, but not revoke the sentence passed upon my
wretched victim. She perished on the scaffold as a murderess!
From the tortures of my own heart, I turned to contemplate the
deep and voiceless grief of my Elizabeth. This also was my doing!
And my father's woe, and the desolation of that late so smiling
home all was the work of my thrice-accursed hands! Ye weep, unhappy
ones, but these are not your last tears! Again shall you raise the
funeral wail, and the sound of your lamentations shall again and
again be heard! Frankenstein, your son, your kinsman, your early,
much-loved friend; he who would spend each vital drop of blood for
your sakes, who has no thought nor sense of joy except as it is
mirrored also in your dear countenances, who would fill the air
with blessings and spend his life in serving you—he bids you weep,
to shed countless tears; happy beyond his hopes, if thus inexorable
fate be satisfied, and if the destruction pause before the peace of
the grave have succeeded to your sad torments!
Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as, torn by remorse, horror, and
despair, I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves
of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed
quinta-feira, 28 de novembro de 2013
quarta-feira, 20 de novembro de 2013
segunda-feira, 18 de novembro de 2013
domingo, 17 de novembro de 2013
"PÉTALAS NO CAMINHO"
3 de Julho de 2012 às 11:27A estrada
era forrada de pétalas
cheirosas como o amor-perfeito
alegres como o malmequer,
seguimos e encontrámos pedras
as mãos entrelaçadas apertámos
num mesmo sonho envolvidos
e saltámos, sem medos barreiras
no teu sorriso vi flores coloridas
nos teus olhos amor
e vi no teu corpo o meu.
19 de Junho de 2012 às 17:15
Numa brisa aprasível e gostosa
um dia me perdi
daquele mar imenso de açafrão
das rendas sem igual da minha terra
num zarpar constante e permanente
num manifesto querer de navegar
ao encontro da espuma
que mãos, todos os dias a lutar,
numa luta sublime, e desigual,
entre vigílias penosas
e angústias mortais
tecem belezas feitas maresia.
E, nos bilros,das mãos das rendilheiras,
cansadas já de tanto labutar
de novo me perdi pelo infinito.
nas ondas me despi
dos preconceitos, fugi
da bruma e do casar fiz um vestido
de renda branca urdido
por mulheres obreiras de milagres,
que, entre os dedos
de onde pendem os bilros
contam e recontam mil segredos,
nos piques com perfume de açafrão,
e estórias de encantar
de geração atrás de geração.
E assim eu fui milagre entre milagres,
por, só de ver e ouvir as rendilheiras,
eu própria me sonhar
que era uma renda.
Este provavelmente o "meu" último poema aqui publicado
sexta-feira, 15 de novembro de 2013
Anna Ewa Miarczyska, illustrations
“Today I have little to say about my life… and maybe a lot of pictures to paint. Pictures that come to my head, to my mind and wait for me to choose, to decide… they await their time. Some of them will never be chosen. And… maybe their time will come.
I often ask myself why I paint, why I have such a need… I have some answers for myself…
A picture is created, someone notices it, looks at it… You look at it, you react, you like it or not And here it doesn’t matter whether you like it or you don’t like it – but WHY… What association, feature, emotion, memory, dream caused your reaction? What resonated, what moved? What is in you, that made you fix your eyes on this picture (any other object or phenomenon…), focus your attention for a while, longer or shorter…?
Isn’t seeing yourself in it more interesting than a curriculum of the author (more or less similar to yours)? I was born, I died or I will die. I lived somewhere, I moved, I studied, I worked… a family, friends. Sounds familiar?”
Anna Ewa Miarczyska: website / behance
quinta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2013
quarta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2013
terça-feira, 12 de novembro de 2013
sábado, 9 de novembro de 2013
|The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket|
Title page of the first book edition, Harper, New York (1838)
|Author||Edgar Allan Poe|
|Publisher||Harper & Brothers|
|Publication date||July 183|
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM
Impia tortorum longos hic turba furores Sanguinis innocui, non satiata, aluit. Sospite nunc patria, fracto nunc funeris antro, Mors ubi dira fuit vita salusque patent. [Quatrain composed for the gates of a market to be erected upon the site of the Jacobin Club House at Paris.]I WAS sick—sick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence—the dread sentence of death—was the last of distinct accentuation which reached my ears. After that, the sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one dreamy indeterminate hum. It conveyed to my soul the idea of revolution—perhaps from its association in fancy with the burr of a mill wheel. This only for a brief period; for presently I heard no more. Yet, for a while, I saw; but with how terrible an exaggeration! I saw the lips of the black-robed judges. They appeared to me white—whiter than the sheet upon which I trace these words—and thin even to grotesqueness; thin with the intensity of their expression of firmness—of immoveable resolution—of stern contempt of human torture. I saw that the decrees of what to me was Fate, were still issuing from those lips. I saw them writhe with a deadly locution. I saw them fashion the syllables of my name; and I shuddered because no sound succeeded. I saw, too, for a few moments of delirious horror, the soft and nearly imperceptible waving of the sable draperies which enwrapped the walls of the apartment. And then my vision fell upon the seven tall candles upon the table. At first they wore the aspect of charity, and seemed white and slender angels who would save me; but then, all at once, there came a most deadly nausea over my spirit, and I felt every fibre in my frame thrill as if I had touched the wire of a galvanic battery, while the angel forms became meaningless spectres, with heads of flame, and I saw that from them there would be no help. And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave. The thought came gently and stealthily, and it seemed long before it attained full appreciation; but just as my spirit came at length properly to feel and entertain it, the figures of the judges vanished, as if magically, from before me; the tall candles sank into nothingness; their flames went out utterly; the blackness of darkness supervened; all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades. Then silence, and stillness, night were the universe.
I had swooned; but still will not say that all of consciousness was lost. What of it there remained I will not attempt to define, or even to describe; yet all was not lost. In the deepest slumber—no! In delirium—no! In a swoon—no! In death—no! even in the grave all is not lost. Else there is no immortality for man. Arousing from the most profound of slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a second afterward, (so frail may that web have been) we remember not that we have dreamed. In the return to life from the swoon there are two stages; first, that of the sense of mental or spiritual; secondly, that of the sense of physical, existence. It seems probable that if, upon reaching the second stage, we could recall the impressions of the first, we should find these impressions eloquent in memories of the gulf beyond. And that gulf is—what? How at least shall we distinguish its shadows from those of the tomb? But if the impressions of what I have termed the first stage, are not, at will, recalled, yet, after long interval, do they not come unbidden, while we marvel whence they come? He who has never swooned, is not he who finds strange palaces and wildly familiar faces in coals that glow; is not he who beholds floating in mid-air the sad visions that the many may not view; is not he who ponders over the perfume of some novel flower—is not he whose brain grows bewildered with the meaning of some musical cadence which has never before arrested his attention.
Amid frequent and thoughtful endeavors to remember; amid earnest struggles to regather some token of the state of seeming nothingness into which my soul had lapsed, there have been moments when I have dreamed of success; there have been brief, very brief periods when I have conjured up remembrances which the lucid reason of a later epoch assures me could have had reference only to that condition of seeming unconsciousness. These shadows of memory tell, indistinctly, of tall figures that lifted and bore me in silence down—down—still down—till a hideous dizziness oppressed me at the mere idea of the interminableness of the descent. They tell also of a vague horror at my heart, on account of that heart's unnatural stillness. Then comes a sense of sudden motionlessness throughout all things; as if those who bore me (a ghastly train!) had outrun, in their descent, the limits of the limitless, and paused from the wearisomeness of their toil. After this I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all is madness—the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.
Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion and sound—the tumultuous motion of the heart, and, in my ears, the sound of its beating. Then a pause in which all is blank. Then again sound, and motion, and touch—a tingling sensation pervading my frame. Then the mere consciousness of existence, without thought—a condition which lasted long. Then, very suddenly, thought, and shuddering terror, and earnest endeavor to comprehend my true state. Then a strong desire to lapse into insensibility. Then a rushing revival of soul and a successful effort to move. And now a full memory of the trial, of the judges, of the sable draperies, of the sentence, of the sickness, of the swoon. Then entire forgetfulness of all that followed; of all that a later day and much earnestness of endeavor have enabled me vaguely to recall.
So far, I had not opened my eyes. I felt that I lay upon my back, unbound. I reached out my hand, and it fell heavily upon something damp and hard. There I suffered it to remain for many minutes, while I strove to imagine where and what I could be. I longed, yet dared not to employ my vision. I dreaded the first glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be nothing to see. At length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night encompassed me. I struggled for breath. The intensity of the darkness seemed to oppress and stifle me. The atmosphere was intolerably close. I still lay quietly, and made effort to exercise my reason. I brought to mind the inquisitorial proceedings, and attempted from that point to deduce my real condition. The sentence had passed; and it appeared to me that a very long interval of time had since elapsed. Yet not for a moment did I suppose myself actually dead. Such a supposition, notwithstanding what we read in fiction, is altogether inconsistent with real existence;—but where and in what state was I? The condemned to death, I knew, perished usually at the autos-da-fe, and one of these had been held on the very night of the day of my trial. Had I been remanded to my dungeon, to await the next sacrifice, which would not take place for many months? This I at once saw could not be. Victims had been in immediate demand. Moreover, my dungeon, as well as all the condemned cells at Toledo, had stone floors, and light was not altogether excluded.
A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in torrents upon my heart, and for a brief period, I once more relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering, I at once started to my feet, trembling convulsively in every fibre. I thrust my arms wildly above and around me in all directions. I felt nothing; yet dreaded to move a step, lest I should be impeded by the walls of a tomb. Perspiration burst from every pore, and stood in cold big beads upon my forehead. The agony of suspense grew at length intolerable, and I cautiously moved forward, with my arms extended, and my eyes straining from their sockets, in the hope of catching some faint ray of light. I proceeded for many paces; but still all was blackness and vacancy. I breathed more freely. It seemed evident that mine was not, at least, the most hideous of fates.
And now, as I still continued to step cautiously onward, there came thronging upon my recollection a thousand vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo. Of the dungeons there had been strange things narrated—fables I had always deemed them—but yet strange, and too ghastly to repeat, save in a whisper. Was I left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world of darkness; or what fate, perhaps even more fearful, awaited me? That the result would be death, and a death of more than customary bitterness, I knew too well the character of my judges to doubt. The mode and the hour were all that occupied or distracted me.
My outstretched hands at length encountered some solid obstruction. It was a wall, seemingly of stone masonry—very smooth, slimy, and cold. I followed it up; stepping with all the careful distrust with which certain antique narratives had inspired me. This process, however, afforded me no means of ascertaining the dimensions of my dungeon; as I might make its circuit, and return to the point whence I set out, without being aware of the fact; so perfectly uniform seemed the wall. I therefore sought the knife which had been in my pocket, when led into the inquisitorial chamber; but it was gone; my clothes had been exchanged for a wrapper of coarse serge. I had thought of forcing the blade in some minute crevice of the masonry, so as to identify my point of departure. The difficulty, nevertheless, was but trivial; although, in the disorder of my fancy, it seemed at first insuperable. I tore a part of the hem from the robe and placed the fragment at full length, and at right angles to the wall. In groping my way around the prison, I could not fail to encounter this rag upon completing the circuit. So, at least I thought: but I had not counted upon the extent of the dungeon, or upon my own weakness. The ground was moist and slippery. I staggered onward for some time, when I stumbled and fell. My excessive fatigue induced me to remain prostrate; and sleep soon overtook me as I lay.
Upon awaking, and stretching forth an arm, I found beside me a loaf and a pitcher with water. I was too much exhausted to reflect upon this circumstance, but ate and drank with avidity. Shortly afterward, I resumed my tour around the prison, and with much toil came at last upon the fragment of the serge. Up to the period when I fell I had counted fifty-two paces, and upon resuming my walk, I had counted forty-eight more;—when I arrived at the rag. There were in all, then, a hundred paces; and, admitting two paces to the yard, I presumed the dungeon to be fifty yards in circuit. I had met, however, with many angles in the wall, and thus I could form no guess at the shape of the vault; for vault I could not help supposing it to be.
I had little object—certainly no hope—in these researches; but a vague curiosity prompted me to continue them. Quitting the wall, I resolved to cross the area of the enclosure. At first I proceeded with extreme caution, for the floor, although seemingly of solid material, was treacherous with slime. At length, however, I took courage, and did not hesitate to step firmly; endeavoring to cross in as direct a line as possible. I had advanced some ten or twelve paces in this manner, when the remnant of the torn hem of my robe became entangled between my legs. I stepped on it, and fell violently on my face.
In the confusion attending my fall, I did not immediately apprehend a somewhat startling circumstance, which yet, in a few seconds afterward, and while I still lay prostrate, arrested my attention. It was this—my chin rested upon the floor of the prison, but my lips and the upper portion of my head, although seemingly at a less elevation than the chin, touched nothing. At the same time my forehead seemed bathed in a clammy vapor, and the peculiar smell of decayed fungus arose to my nostrils. I put forward my arm, and shuddered to find that I had fallen at the very brink of a circular pit, whose extent, of course, I had no means of ascertaining at the moment. Groping about the masonry just below the margin, I succeeded in dislodging a small fragment, and let it fall into the abyss. For many seconds I hearkened to its reverberations as it dashed against the sides of the chasm in its descent; at length there was a sullen plunge into water, succeeded by loud echoes. At the same moment there came a sound resembling the quick opening, and as rapid closing of a door overhead, while a faint gleam of light flashed suddenly through the gloom, and as suddenly faded away.
I saw clearly the doom which had been prepared for me, and congratulated myself upon the timely accident by which I had escaped. Another step before my fall, and the world had seen me no more. And the death just avoided, was of that very character which I had regarded as fabulous and frivolous in the tales respecting the Inquisition. To the victims of its tyranny, there was the choice of death with its direst physical agonies, or death with its most hideous moral horrors. I had been reserved for the latter. By long suffering my nerves had been unstrung, until I trembled at the sound of my own voice, and had become in every respect a fitting subject for the species of torture which awaited me.
Shaking in every limb, I groped my way back to the wall; resolving there to perish rather than risk the terrors of the wells, of which my imagination now pictured many in various positions about the dungeon. In other conditions of mind I might have had courage to end my misery at once by a plunge into one of these abysses; but now I was the veriest of cowards. Neither could I forget what I had read of these pits—that the sudden extinction of life formed no part of their most horrible plan.
Agitation of spirit kept me awake for many long hours; but at length I again slumbered. Upon arousing, I found by my side, as before, a loaf and a pitcher of water. A burning thirst consumed me, and I emptied the vessel at a draught. It must have been drugged; for scarcely had I drunk, before I became irresistibly drowsy. A deep sleep fell upon me—a sleep like that of death. How long it lasted of course, I know not; but when, once again, I unclosed my eyes, the objects around me were visible. By a wild sulphurous lustre, the origin of which I could not at first determine, I was enabled to see the extent and aspect of the prison.
In its size I had been greatly mistaken. The whole circuit of its walls did not exceed twenty-five yards. For some minutes this fact occasioned me a world of vain trouble; vain indeed! for what could be of less importance, under the terrible circumstances which environed me, then the mere dimensions of my dungeon? But my soul took a wild interest in trifles, and I busied myself in endeavors to account for the error I had committed in my measurement. The truth at length flashed upon me. In my first attempt at exploration I had counted fifty-two paces, up to the period when I fell; I must then have been within a pace or two of the fragment of serge; in fact, I had nearly performed the circuit of the vault. I then slept, and upon awaking, I must have returned upon my steps—thus supposing the circuit nearly double what it actually was. My confusion of mind prevented me from observing that I began my tour with the wall to the left, and ended it with the wall to the right.
I had been deceived, too, in respect to the shape of the enclosure. In feeling my way I had found many angles, and thus deduced an idea of great irregularity; so potent is the effect of total darkness upon one arousing from lethargy or sleep! The angles were simply those of a few slight depressions, or niches, at odd intervals. The general shape of the prison was square. What I had taken for masonry seemed now to be iron, or some other metal, in huge plates, whose sutures or joints occasioned the depression. The entire surface of this metallic enclosure was rudely daubed in all the hideous and repulsive devices to which the charnel superstition of the monks has given rise. The figures of fiends in aspects of menace, with skeleton forms, and other more really fearful images, overspread and disfigured the walls. I observed that the outlines of these monstrosities were sufficiently distinct, but that the colors seemed faded and blurred, as if from the effects of a damp atmosphere. I now noticed the floor, too, which was of stone. In the centre yawned the circular pit from whose jaws I had escaped; but it was the only one in the dungeon.
All this I saw indistinctly and by much effort: for my personal condition had been greatly changed during slumber. I now lay upon my back, and at full length, on a species of low framework of wood. To this I was securely bound by a long strap resembling a surcingle. It passed in many convolutions about my limbs and body, leaving at liberty only my head, and my left arm to such extent that I could, by dint of much exertion, supply myself with food from an earthen dish which lay by my side on the floor. I saw, to my horror, that the pitcher had been removed. I say to my horror; for I was consumed with intolerable thirst. This thirst it appeared to be the design of my persecutors to stimulate: for the food in the dish was meat pungently seasoned.
Looking upward, I surveyed the ceiling of my prison. It was some thirty or forty feet overhead, and constructed much as the side walls. In one of its panels a very singular figure riveted my whole attention. It was the painted figure of Time as he is commonly represented, save that, in lieu of a scythe, he held what, at a casual glance, I supposed to be the pictured image of a huge pendulum such as we see on antique clocks. There was something, however, in the appearance of this machine which caused me to regard it more attentively. While I gazed directly upward at it (for its position was immediately over my own) I fancied that I saw it in motion. In an instant afterward the fancy was confirmed. Its sweep was brief, and of course slow. I watched it for some minutes, somewhat in fear, but more in wonder. Wearied at length with observing its dull movement, I turned my eyes upon the other objects in the cell.
A slight noise attracted my notice, and, looking to the floor, I saw several enormous rats traversing it. They had issued from the well, which lay just within view to my right. Even then, while I gazed, they came up in troops, hurriedly, with ravenous eyes, allured by the scent of the meat. From this it required much effort and attention to scare them away.
It might have been half an hour, perhaps even an hour, (for I could take but imperfect note of time) before I again cast my eyes upward. What I then saw confounded and amazed me. The sweep of the pendulum had increased in extent by nearly a yard. As a natural consequence, its velocity was also much greater. But what mainly disturbed me was the idea that had perceptibly descended. I now observed—with what horror it is needless to say—that its nether extremity was formed of a crescent of glittering steel, about a foot in length from horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under edge evidently as keen as that of a razor. Like a razor also, it seemed massy and heavy, tapering from the edge into a solid and broad structure above. It was appended to a weighty rod of brass, and the whole hissed as it swung through the air.
I could no longer doubt the doom prepared for me by monkish ingenuity in torture. My cognizance of the pit had become known to the inquisitorial agents—the pit whose horrors had been destined for so bold a recusant as myself—the pit, typical of hell, and regarded by rumor as the Ultima Thule of all their punishments. The plunge into this pit I had avoided by the merest of accidents, I knew that surprise, or entrapment into torment, formed an important portion of all the grotesquerie of these dungeon deaths. Having failed to fall, it was no part of the demon plan to hurl me into the abyss; and thus (there being no alternative) a different and a milder destruction awaited me. Milder! I half smiled in my agony as I thought of such application of such a term.
What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of horror more than mortal, during which I counted the rushing vibrations of the steel! Inch by inch—line by line—with a descent only appreciable at intervals that seemed ages—down and still down it came! Days passed—it might have been that many days passed—ere it swept so closely over me as to fan me with its acrid breath. The odor of the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed—I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy descent. I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. And then I fell suddenly calm, and lay smiling at the glittering death, as a child at some rare bauble.
There was another interval of utter insensibility; it was brief; for, upon again lapsing into life there had been no perceptible descent in the pendulum. But it might have been long; for I knew there were demons who took note of my swoon, and who could have arrested the vibration at pleasure. Upon my recovery, too, I felt very—oh, inexpressibly sick and weak, as if through long inanition. Even amid the agonies of that period, the human nature craved food. With painful effort I outstretched my left arm as far as my bonds permitted, and took possession of the small remnant which had been spared me by the rats. As I put a portion of it within my lips, there rushed to my mind a half formed thought of joy—of hope. Yet what business had I with hope? It was, as I say, a half formed thought—man has many such which are never completed. I felt that it was of joy—of hope; but felt also that it had perished in its formation. In vain I struggled to perfect—to regain it. Long suffering had nearly annihilated all my ordinary powers of mind. I was an imbecile—an idiot.
The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles to my length. I saw that the crescent was designed to cross the region of the heart. It would fray the serge of my robe—it would return and repeat its operations—again—and again. Notwithstanding terrifically wide sweep (some thirty feet or more) and the hissing vigor of its descent, sufficient to sunder these very walls of iron, still the fraying of my robe would be all that, for several minutes, it would accomplish. And at this thought I paused. I dared not go farther than this reflection. I dwelt upon it with a pertinacity of attention—as if, in so dwelling, I could arrest here the descent of the steel. I forced myself to ponder upon the sound of the crescent as it should pass across the garment—upon the peculiar thrilling sensation which the friction of cloth produces on the nerves. I pondered upon all this frivolity until my teeth were on edge.
Down—steadily down it crept. I took a frenzied pleasure in contrasting its downward with its lateral velocity. To the right—to the left—far and wide—with the shriek of a damned spirit; to my heart with the stealthy pace of the tiger! I alternately laughed and howled as the one or the other idea grew predominant.
Down—certainly, relentlessly down! It vibrated within three inches of my bosom! I struggled violently, furiously, to free my left arm. This was free only from the elbow to the hand. I could reach the latter, from the platter beside me, to my mouth, with great effort, but no farther. Could I have broken the fastenings above the elbow, I would have seized and attempted to arrest the pendulum. I might as well have attempted to arrest an avalanche!
Down—still unceasingly—still inevitably down! I gasped and struggled at each vibration. I shrunk convulsively at its every sweep. My eyes followed its outward or upward whirls with the eagerness of the most unmeaning despair; they closed themselves spasmodically at the descent, although death would have been a relief, oh! how unspeakable! Still I quivered in every nerve to think how slight a sinking of the machinery would precipitate that keen, glistening axe upon my bosom. It was hope that prompted the nerve to quiver—the frame to shrink. It was hope—the hope that triumphs on the rack—that whispers to the death-condemned even in the dungeons of the Inquisition.
I saw that some ten or twelve vibrations would bring the steel in actual contact with my robe, and with this observation there suddenly came over my spirit all the keen, collected calmness of despair. For the first time during many hours—or perhaps days—I thought. It now occurred to me that the bandage, or surcingle, which enveloped me, was unique. I was tied by no separate cord. The first stroke of the razorlike crescent athwart any portion of the band, would so detach it that it might be unwound from my person by means of my left hand. But how fearful, in that case, the proximity of the steel! The result of the slightest struggle how deadly! Was it likely, moreover, that the minions of the torturer had not foreseen and provided for this possibility! Was it probable that the bandage crossed my bosom in the track of the pendulum? Dreading to find my faint, and, as it seemed, my last hope frustrated, I so far elevated my head as to obtain a distinct view of my breast. The surcingle enveloped my limbs and body close in all directions—save in the path of the destroying crescent.
Scarcely had I dropped my head back into its original position, when there flashed upon my mind what I cannot better describe than as the unformed half of that idea of deliverance to which I have previously alluded, and of which a moiety only floated indeterminately through my brain when I raised food to my burning lips. The whole thought was now present—feeble, scarcely sane, scarcely definite,—but still entire. I proceeded at once, with the nervous energy of despair, to attempt its execution.
For many hours the immediate vicinity of the low framework upon which I lay, had been literally swarming with rats. They were wild, bold, ravenous; their red eyes glaring upon me as if they waited but for motionlessness on my part to make me their prey. "To what food," I thought, "have they been accustomed in the well?"
They had devoured, in spite of all my efforts to prevent them, all but a small remnant of the contents of the dish. I had fallen into an habitual see-saw, or wave of the hand about the platter: and, at length, the unconscious uniformity of the movement deprived it of effect. In their voracity the vermin frequently fastened their sharp fangs in my fingers. With the particles of the oily and spicy viand which now remained, I thoroughly rubbed the bandage wherever I could reach it; then, raising my hand from the floor, I lay breathlessly still.
At first the ravenous animals were startled and terrified at the change—at the cessation of movement. They shrank alarmedly back; many sought the well. But this was only for a moment. I had not counted in vain upon their voracity. Observing that I remained without motion, one or two of the boldest leaped upon the frame-work, and smelt at the surcingle. This seemed the signal for a general rush. Forth from the well they hurried in fresh troops. They clung to the wood—they overran it, and leaped in hundreds upon my person. The measured movement of the pendulum disturbed them not at all. Avoiding its strokes they busied themselves with the anointed bandage. They pressed—they swarmed upon me in ever accumulating heaps. They writhed upon my throat; their cold lips sought my own; I was half stifled by their thronging pressure; disgust, for which the world has no name, swelled my bosom, and chilled, with a heavy clamminess, my heart. Yet one minute, and I felt that the struggle would be over. Plainly I perceived the loosening of the bandage. I knew that in more than one place it must be already severed. With a more than human resolution I lay still.
Nor had I erred in my calculations—nor had I endured in vain. I at length felt that I was free. The surcingle hung in ribands from my body. But the stroke of the pendulum already pressed upon my bosom. It had divided the serge of the robe. It had cut through the linen beneath. Twice again it swung, and a sharp sense of pain shot through every nerve. But the moment of escape had arrived. At a wave of my hand my deliverers hurried tumultuously away. With a steady movement—cautious, sidelong, shrinking, and slow—I slid from the embrace of the bandage and beyond the reach of the scimitar. For the moment, at least, I was free.
Free!—and in the grasp of the Inquisition! I had scarcely stepped from my wooden bed of horror upon the stone floor of the prison, when the motion of the hellish machine ceased and I beheld it drawn up, by some invisible force, through the ceiling. This was a lesson which I took desperately to heart. My every motion was undoubtedly watched. Free!—I had but escaped death in one form of agony, to be delivered unto worse than death in some other. With that thought I rolled my eves nervously around on the barriers of iron that hemmed me in. Something unusual—some change which, at first, I could not appreciate distinctly—it was obvious, had taken place in the apartment. For many minutes of a dreamy and trembling abstraction, I busied myself in vain, unconnected conjecture. During this period, I became aware, for the first time, of the origin of the sulphurous light which illumined the cell. It proceeded from a fissure, about half an inch in width, extending entirely around the prison at the base of the walls, which thus appeared, and were, completely separated from the floor. I endeavored, but of course in vain, to look through the aperture.
As I arose from the attempt, the mystery of the alteration in the chamber broke at once upon my understanding. I have observed that, although the outlines of the figures upon the walls were sufficiently distinct, yet the colors seemed blurred and indefinite. These colors had now assumed, and were momentarily assuming, a startling and most intense brilliancy, that gave to the spectral and fiendish portraitures an aspect that might have thrilled even firmer nerves than my own. Demon eyes, of a wild and ghastly vivacity, glared upon me in a thousand directions, where none had been visible before, and gleamed with the lurid lustre of a fire that I could not force my imagination to regard as unreal.
Unreal!—Even while I breathed there came to my nostrils the breath of the vapour of heated iron! A suffocating odour pervaded the prison! A deeper glow settled each moment in the eyes that glared at my agonies! A richer tint of crimson diffused itself over the pictured horrors of blood. I panted! I gasped for breath! There could be no doubt of the design of my tormentors—oh! most unrelenting! oh! most demoniac of men! I shrank from the glowing metal to the centre of the cell. Amid the thought of the fiery destruction that impended, the idea of the coolness of the well came over my soul like balm. I rushed to its deadly brink. I threw my straining vision below. The glare from the enkindled roof illumined its inmost recesses. Yet, for a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to comprehend the meaning of what I saw. At length it forced—it wrestled its way into my soul—it burned itself in upon my shuddering reason.—Oh! for a voice to speak!—oh! horror!—oh! any horror but this! With a shriek, I rushed from the margin, and buried my face in my hands—weeping bitterly.
The heat rapidly increased, and once again I looked up, shuddering as with a fit of the ague. There had been a second change in the cell—and now the change was obviously in the form. As before, it was in vain that I, at first, endeavoured to appreciate or understand what was taking place. But not long was I left in doubt. The Inquisitorial vengeance had been hurried by my two-fold escape, and there was to be no more dallying with the King of Terrors. The room had been square. I saw that two of its iron angles were now acute—two, consequently, obtuse. The fearful difference quickly increased with a low rumbling or moaning sound. In an instant the apartment had shifted its form into that of a lozenge. But the alteration stopped not here-I neither hoped nor desired it to stop. I could have clasped the red walls to my bosom as a garment of eternal peace. "Death," I said, "any death but that of the pit!" Fool! might I have not known that into the pit it was the object of the burning iron to urge me? Could I resist its glow? or, if even that, could I withstand its pressure? And now, flatter and flatter grew the lozenge, with a rapidity that left me no time for contemplation. Its centre, and of course, its greatest width, came just over the yawning gulf. I shrank back—but the closing walls pressed me resistlessly onward. At length for my seared and writhing body there was no longer an inch of foothold on the firm floor of the prison. I struggled no more, but the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long, and final scream of despair. I felt that I tottered upon the brink—I averted my eyes—
There was a discordant hum of human voices! There was a loud blast as of many trumpets! There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! The fiery walls rushed back! An outstretched arm caught my own as I fell, fainting, into the abyss. It was that of General Lasalle. The French army had entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies
. “Tudo o que vemos ou parecemos
não passa de um sonho dentro de um sonho.”
―Edgar Allan Poe
“Todas as obras de arte devem começar pelo final.”
―Edgar Allan Poe
sexta-feira, 8 de novembro de 2013
- Juana Molina
BiografiaJuana Molina (nascida em 1962 na Argentina) é, além de cantora, compositora e atriz.
Depois do golpe de Estado na Argentina, em 1976, sua família fugiu do país e viveu exilada em Paris por seis anos. Ela cresceu num ambiente musical e aos cinco anos seu pai, cantor de Tango, a ensinou tocar violão.
Juana Molina começou sua carreira em 1988 como atriz de TV na Argentina, no programa La Noticia Rebelde. Ela depois estrelou Juana y sus hermanas, um quadro sobre o mundo de língua espânica, pelo qual ela permanece mais conhecida na América Latina.
Em 1996 ela passou se dedicar à carreira de cantora. As letras em seus álbuns são cantadas em espanhol e acompanhadas por violão acústico, entre outros instrumentos. Sua música apresenta elementos de música ambiente e eletrônica, e ela é freqüentemente comparada pelos críticos à Björk, Beth Orton, e Lisa Germano. Ele normalmente escreve, mixa e toca as músicas sozinha.
Seu segundo álbum, Segundo, ganhou o prêmio da Entertainment Weekly de melhor álbum de World Music em 2003, entre outras nomeações em 2004. Tres Cosas, o terceiro, foi posto entre o dez melhores discos de 2004 pelo New York Times