Silence (Poe)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A demon recounted a tale of a man who sought solitude in a desolate region, only to be tormented by various disturbances until he was driven away by the overwhelming silence.

A demon once told a story of a dreary region in Libya, by the banks of the river Zaire. The river's waters were saffron and sickly, and the land was filled with gigantic water-lilies that sighed and murmured to each other. The region was surrounded by a dark, horrible, and lofty forest, where the trees rocked eternally with a crashing sound, and strange poisonous flowers lay writhing in perturbed slumber.

One night, as the rain fell and turned to blood, a man observed a huge gray rock by the river, lit by the crimson moon. The rock had characters engraved on it, which the man could not decipher. As the moon shone brighter, the man saw another figure standing on the rock, wrapped in a toga and with features of a deity. The figure's face showed sorrow, weariness, and a longing for solitude.

The Man — tall, stately, and wrapped in a Roman toga; weary of mankind, longing for solitude.

The figure sat on the rock and looked out at the desolation, trembling in solitude. The man, hidden among the water-lilies, observed the figure's actions. He called upon the hippopotami and behemoth from the morass, who roared loudly beneath the moon. The figure continued to tremble but remained on the rock.

And the man trembled in the solitude;—but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.

The man then cursed the elements, causing a violent tempest to gather in the sky. The rain beat upon the figure's head, the river flooded, the water-lilies shrieked, the forest crumbled, and the rock shook. Still, the figure trembled and stayed on the rock. The man then cursed everything with the curse of silence, and all became still and silent.

The figure's countenance turned pale with terror, and he stood up, listening for any sound. Finding none, he shuddered, turned away, and fled in haste, never to be seen again.

And the man shuddered, and turned his face away, and fled afar off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more.

The demon laughed at the end of the story, but the man could not laugh with him, and the demon cursed him for it.

The Demon — narrator; mysterious, malevolent, and manipulative.