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    The Power of Words

    by Edgar Allan Poe
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    OINOS. Pardon, Agathos, the weakness of a spirit new-fledged with

    AGATHOS. You have spoken nothing, my Oinos, for which pardon is to be
    demanded. Not even here is knowledge thing of intuition. For wisdom,
    ask of the angels freely, that it may be given!

    OINOS. But in this existence, I dreamed that I should be at once
    cognizant of all things, and thus at once be happy in being cognizant
    of all.

    AGATHOS. Ah, not in knowledge is happiness, but in the acquisition of
    knowledge! In for ever knowing, we are for ever blessed; but to know
    all were the curse of a fiend.

    OINOS. But does not The Most High know all?

    AGATHOS. That (since he is The Most Happy) must be still the one
    thing unknown even to Him.

    OINOS. But, since we grow hourly in knowledge, must not at last all
    things be known?

    AGATHOS. Look down into the abysmal distances! -- attempt to force
    the gaze down the multitudinous vistas of the stars, as we sweep
    slowly through them thus -- and thus -- and thus! Even the spiritual
    vision, is it not at all points arrested by the continuous golden
    walls of the universe? -- the walls of the myriads of the shining
    bodies that mere number has appeared to blend into unity?

    OINOS. I clearly perceive that the infinity of matter is no dream.

    AGATHOS. There are no dreams in Aidenn -- but it is here whispered
    that, of this infinity of matter, the sole purpose is to afford
    infinite springs, at which the soul may allay the thirst to know,
    which is for ever unquenchable within it -- since to quench it, would
    be to extinguish the soul's self. Question me then, my Oinos, freely
    and without fear. Come! we will leave to the left the loud harmony of
    the Pleiades, and swoop outward from the throne into the starry
    meadows beyond Orion, where, for pansies and violets, and heart's --
    ease, are the beds of the triplicate and triple -- tinted suns.

    OINOS. And now, Agathos, as we proceed, instruct me! -- speak to me
    in the earth's familiar tones. I understand not what you hinted to
    me, just now, of the modes or of the method of what, during
    mortality, we were accustomed to call Creation. Do you mean to say
    that the Creator is not God?

    AGATHOS. I mean to say that the Deity does not create.

    OINOS. Explain.

    AGATHOS. In the beginning only, he created. The seeming creatures
    which are now, throughout the universe, so perpetually springing into
    being, can only be considered as the mediate or indirect, not as the
    direct or immediate results of the Divine creative power.

    OINOS. Among men, my Agathos, this idea would be considered heretical
    in the extreme.

    AGATHOS. Among angels, my Oinos, it is seen to be simply true.

    OINOS. I can comprehend you thus far -- that certain operations of
    what we term Nature, or the natural laws, will, under certain
    conditions, give rise to that which has all the appearance of
    creation. Shortly before the final overthrow of the earth, there
    were, I well remember, many very successful experiments in what some
    philosophers were weak enough to denominate the creation of

    AGATHOS. The cases of which you speak were, in fact, instances of the
    secondary creation -- and of the only species of creation which has
    ever been, since the first word spoke into existence the first law.

    OINOS. Are not the starry worlds that, from the abyss of nonentity,
    burst hourly forth into the heavens -- are not these stars, Agathos,
    the immediate handiwork of the King?

    AGATHOS. Let me endeavor, my Oinos, to lead you, step by step, to the
    conception I intend. You are well aware that, as no thought can
    perish, so no act is without infinite result. We moved our hands, for
    example, when we were dwellers on the earth, and, in so doing, gave
    vibration to the atmosphere which engirdled it. This vibration was
    indefinitely extended, till it gave impulse to every particle of the
    earth's air, which thenceforward, and for ever, was actuated by the
    one movement of the hand. This fact the mathematicians of our globe
    well knew. They made the special effects, indeed, wrought in the
    fluid by special impulses, the subject of exact calculation -- so
    that it became easy to determine in what precise period an impulse of
    given extent would engirdle the orb, and impress (for ever) every
    atom of the atmosphere circumambient. Retrograding, they found no
    difficulty, from a given effect, under given conditions, in
    determining the value of the original impulse. Now the mathematicians
    who saw that the results of any given impulse were absolutely endless
    -- and who saw that a portion of these results were accurately
    traceable through the agency of algebraic analysis -- who saw, too,
    the facility of the retrogradation -- these men saw, at the same
    time, that this species of analysis itself, had within itself a
    capacity for indefinite progress -- that there were no bounds
    conceivable to its advancement and applicability, except within the
    intellect of him who advanced or applied it. But at this point our
    mathematicians paused.

    OINOS. And why, Agathos, should they have proceeded?

    AGATHOS. Because there were some considerations of deep interest
    beyond. It was deducible from what they knew, that to a being of
    infinite understanding -- one to whom the perfection of the algebraic
    analysis lay unfolded -- there could be no difficulty in tracing
    every impulse given the air -- and the ether through the air -- to
    the remotest consequences at any even infinitely remote epoch of
    time. It is indeed demonstrable that every such impulse given the
    air, must, in the end, impress every individual thing that exists
    within the universe; -- and the being of infinite understanding --
    the being whom we have imagined -- might trace the remote undulations
    of the impulse -- trace them upward and onward in their influences
    upon all particles of an matter -- upward and onward for ever in
    their modifications of old forms -- or, in other words, in their
    creation of new -- until he found them reflected -- unimpressive at
    last -- back from the throne of the Godhead. And not only could such
    a thing do this, but at any epoch, should a given result be afforded
    him -- should one of these numberless comets, for example, be
    presented to his inspection -- he could have no difficulty in
    determining, by the analytic retrogradation, to what original impulse
    it was due. This power of retrogradation in its absolute fulness and
    perfection -- this faculty of referring at all epochs, all effects to
    all causes -- is of course the prerogative of the Deity alone -- but
    in every variety of degree, short of the absolute perfection, is the
    power itself exercised by the whole host of the Angelic

    OINOS. But you speak merely of impulses upon the air.

    AGATHOS. In speaking of the air, I referred only to the earth; but
    the general proposition has reference to impulses upon the ether --
    which, since it pervades, and alone pervades all space, is thus the
    great medium of creation.

    OINOS. Then all motion, of whatever nature, creates?

    AGATHOS. It must: but a true philosophy has long taught that the
    source of all motion is thought -- and the source of all thought is-

    OINOS. God.

    AGATHOS. I have spoken to you, Oinos, as to a child of the fair Earth
    which lately perished -- of impulses upon the atmosphere of the

    OINOS. You did.

    AGATHOS. And while I thus spoke, did there not cross your mind some
    thought of the physical power of words? Is not every word an impulse
    on the air?

    OINOS. But why, Agathos, do you weep -- and why, oh why do your wings
    droop as we hover above this fair star -- which is the greenest and
    yet most terrible of all we have encountered in our flight? Its
    brilliant flowers look like a fairy dream -- but its fierce volcanoes
    like the passions of a turbulent heart.

    AGATHOS. They are! -- they are! This wild star -- it is now three
    centuries since, with clasped hands, and with streaming eyes, at the
    feet of my beloved -- I spoke it -- with a few passionate sentences
    -- into birth. Its brilliant flowers are the dearest of all
    unfulfilled dreams, and its raging volcanoes are the passions of the
    most turbulent and unhallowed of hearts.
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