Friday Poe Quote – 25 September 2015


Poe’s morbid gothic romanticism slithers from the page in his gloriously dark and depressing ‘Conqueror Worm.’ Published in 1843, it presages his ultimate gothic gem, ‘The Raven’ penned just a couple of years later.   ‘The Conqueror Worm’ uses theatrical and stage imagery to paint a grim picture of the universe; both of Poe’s parents acted, and both died young.

Lo! ’t is a gala night

   Within the lonesome latter years!   

An angel throng, bewinged, bedight

   In veils, and drowned in tears,   

Sit in a theatre, to see

   A play of hopes and fears,

While the orchestra breathes fitfully   

   The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,   

   Mutter and mumble low,

And hither and thither fly—

   Mere puppets they, who come and go   

At bidding of vast formless things

   That shift the scenery to and fro,

Flapping from out their Condor wings

   Invisible Wo!

That motley drama—oh, be sure   

   It shall not be forgot!

With its Phantom chased for evermore   

   By a crowd that seize it not,

Through a circle that ever returneth in   

   To the self-same spot,

And much of Madness, and more of Sin,   

   And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout,

   A crawling shape intrude!

A blood-red thing that writhes from out   

   The scenic solitude!

It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs   

The mimes become its food,

And seraphs sob at vermin fangs

   In human gore imbued.

Out—out are the lights—out all!   

   And, over each quivering form,

The curtain, a funeral pall,

   Comes down with the rush of a storm,   

While the angels, all pallid and wan,   

   Uprising, unveiling, affirm

That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”   

   And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.

So what do we have here? The world is a stage (perhaps borrowing from Shakespeare), where pathetic humans–the mimes–live out the folly of their useless lives, witnessed only by angels. Every mortal is eventually devoured by a blood-red thing with vermin fangs that writhes and writhes. Life is a tragedy, and the evil thing that devours us–the Conqueror Worm–is our hero. I love this poem.

This verse, along with ‘The Raven’ and a select number of Poe’s most grotesque short stories, have done the most to cement Poe’s undying reputation as the Father of Modern Horror.   Go ahead, light some candles and read this aloud. And then go listen to some Goth Rock.

The image comes from the 1968 Vincent Price movie, which has virtually nothing to do with the poem at all. But it sure makes a great movie title.

Poe Quote – Saturday, 19 September 2015

To Helen

For the snobbish, Poe’s poetry seldom ever reached the caliber of the other Romantics. ‘The Raven’, of course, was unique and striking. But for my money, one of Poe’s most Romantic poems, where he managed to avoid his favorite trope of gothic gloom, is ‘To Helen’.

To Helen (1845 version)

Helen, thy beauty is to me

Like those Nicean barks of yore

That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,

The weary, way-worn wanderer bore

To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,

Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,

Thy Naiad airs have brought me home

To the glory that was Greece,

And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo, in yon brilliant window-niche

How statue-like I see thee stand,

The agate lamp within thy hand,

Ah! Psyche, from the regions which

Are Holy Land!

Poe lore has it that when he was only about 14, a Mrs. Jane Stith Stanard encouraged Poe to pursue his love of poetry. Though the final version of this poem wasn’t completed until decades later, it’s believed she inspired this paean to Helen.

Despite its title, Poe doesn’t only compare Mrs. Stanard to Helen of Troy–a physical beauty–but at the final turn of the verse he compares her to Psyche, a more spiritual form of beauty. Finally, because she encouraged Poe at such a young age, this verse is also seems to be an homage to Poetry itself, in that it employs allusions to classical Art and mythology: Art is eternal, Art was Poe’s religion.

The image comes from the 2004 movie The Ladykillers, where Tom Hanks, playing a whacked-out kind of faux Poe, recites ‘To Helen.’

Friday Poe Quote – 04 Sep 2015

city in the sea - 1

‘The City in the Sea’ is another gloomy gothic verse from Poe, this one possibly inspired by another Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and his masterpiece, ‘Kubla Khan’.

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne

In a strange city lying alone

Far down within the dim West,

Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best

Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines and palaces and towers

(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)

Resemble nothing that is ours.

Around, by lifting winds forgot,

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters lie.

No rays from the holy heaven come down

On the long night-time of that town;

But light from out the lurid sea

Streams up the turrets silently —

Gleams up the pinnacles far and free —

Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —

Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —

Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers

Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers —

Up many and many a marvelous shrine

Whose wreathéd friezes intertwine

The viol, the violet, and the vine.

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in the air,

While from a proud tower in the town

Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves

Yawn level with the luminous waves;

But not the riches there that lie

In each idol’s diamond eye —

Not the gaily-jeweled dead

Tempt the waters from their bed;

For no ripples curl, alas!

Along that wilderness of glass —

No swellings tell that winds may be

Upon some far-off happier sea —

No heavings hint that winds have been

On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!

The wave — there is a movement there!

As if the towers had thrust aside,

In slightly sinking, the dull tide —

As if their tops had feebly given

A void within the filmy Heaven.

The waves have now a redder glow —

The hours are breathing faint and low —

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence,

Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,

Shall do it reverence.

This atmospheric verse was published in 1845, though it did exist in earlier versions. There are no actual characters in this poem, except for Death itself, but this poem still follows some of the major tropes of Poe’s brand of Gothic fiction: the decay of the aristocracy, death and madness. It’s an easy read, and when read aloud it’s pleasing to the ear, which is interesting, since the poem contains no descriptions of any kind of sound: the city is silent, like the dead. I think the elevated language is intentional, giving the poem a feeling of antiquity.

The image is a photograph I took of the sun setting into the western Pacific. Poe possibly set his mysterious city to the west, because the setting sun was often associated with the end of life–something Poe obsessed over.

Friday’s Dreamy Poe Quote – 17 July 2015

Poe painting

This dreary but beautiful little verse, ‘Alone’, could almost be Poe’s autobiography.  

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were—I have not seen

As others saw—I could not bring

My passions from a common spring—

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow—I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone—

And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—

Then—in my childhood—in the dawn

Of a most stormy life—was drawn

From ev’ry depth of good and ill

The mystery which binds me still—

From the torrent, or the fountain—

From the red cliff of the mountain—

From the sun that ’round me roll’d

In its autumn tint of gold—

From the lightning in the sky

As it pass’d me flying by—

From the thunder, and the storm—

And the cloud that took the form

(When the rest of Heaven was blue)

Of a demon in my view—

Alas, ‘Alone’ can’t be autobiographical of his later years, for Poe wrote this around 1829, when he was only twenty years old, two decades before his death. So maybe it was prophesy. It seems, though, to speak to Poe’s lifelong inner torment and feeling of isolation. Demons would haunt him throughout his life: poverty, tuberculosis, alcoholism, mental illness.

This little gem lay hidden until long after Poe’s death, when E. L. Didier ‘found it’, gave it its title and published it in 1875. For a time there was doubt as to this poem’s authorship. Scholars have resolved those question. What remains, however, is the mystery behind Poe’s uncanny self-awareness as expressed in this youthful rumination.

The image is a painting of Poe by Samuel Stillman Osgood, circa 1845. This idealized representation perhaps gives a hint of what Poe might’ve looked like in his youth, before he began to pose for all those wonderful daguerreotypes of the now iconic insane Romantic genius.     

Friday’s Tragic Poe Quote – 03 July 2015


Poe’s poem ‘Ulalume’ is a posthumous publication. Written in 1847, Poe couldn’t find a publisher for it during the last two years of his life.   This dreary, tragic verse adds to Poe’s street cred as a hardcore melancholy Romantic. The poem is not necessarily very deep with meaning, and in my opinion is best enjoyed read aloud for its rhythm and the hypnotic effect of its repetition of words, lines and sounds. It’s a kind of cousin to ‘The Raven’: mourning for a dead love.

The fascinating curiosity about this verse is its dramatic irony: that is, the speaker for much of the poem doesn’t remember that his beloved Ulalume is dead. Only when he revisits her tomb in the last verse, does the devastation of her death return to him. So in a sense, this poem is a story.

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere – 
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir – 
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through and alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul – 
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll – 
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole – 
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere – 
Our memories were treacherous and sere, – 
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!) – 
We noted not the dim lake of Auber
(Though once we had journeyed down here) – 
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent
And star-dials pointed to morn – 
As the star-dials hinted of morn – 
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn – 
Astarte’s bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said: “She is warmer than Dian;
She rolls through an ether of sighs – 
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
To point us the path to the skies – 
To the Lethean peace of the skies – 
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes – 
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes.”

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said: “Sadly this star I mistrust – 
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Ah, hasten! -ah, let us not linger!
Ah, fly! -let us fly! -for we must.”
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings until they trailed in the dust – 
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust – 
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied: “This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic splendour is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty tonight! – 
See! -it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright – 
We safely may trust to a gleaming,
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom – 
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the door of a tomb – 
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said: “What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?”
She replied: “Ulalume -Ulalume – 
‘Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere – 
As the leaves that were withering and sere;
And I cried: “It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed -I journeyed down here! – 
That I brought a dread burden down here – 
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon hath tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber – 
This misty mid region of Weir – 
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

Some scholars and historians have wondered if this poem is autobiographical. That seems reasonable to me. Poe lost his beloved Virginia to tuberculosis. He was obsessed with the concept of ‘the most poetical thing in the world is the death of a beautiful woman.’ And he spend the last couple years of his life–when this poem was written–frantically trying find a new wife. The loneliness he suffered agonized him.

The image is of Poe’s dead wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, painted after her death. She was Poe’s first cousin, and married him when only 13. She died at the age of 24 in 1847 (the year ‘Ulalume’ was written). Many scholars believe they never consummated their marriage, though Poe loved her profoundly, and was, by all accounts, devastated by her early death.

Friday’s Maniacal Poe Quote – 12 June 2015

The last poem Edgar A. Poe ever wrote, ‘Annabel Lee’ is the most explicit manifestation of his obsession with the idea that “The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.” This poem is brief and very much to the point. Perhaps its simplicity is part of what has made it such an enduring favorite:

It was many and many a year ago,

   In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

   By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

   Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,

   In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

   I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven

   Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,

   In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

   My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsmen came

   And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

   In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

   Went envying her and me—

Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,

   In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

   Of those who were older than we—

   Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

   Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,

   In her sepulchre there by the sea—

   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Poe died in loneliness and without any friends. On his deathbed in Washington College Hospital, the presiding physician had difficulty finding anyone to visit Poe as he lay in his final delirium. Even at Poe’s burial, hardly anyone attended.

Poe lost his only wife, Virginia, to tuberculosis years earlier, and in Poe’s own final years he wooed a string of women. Perhaps it is only fitting that his final verse (not even published till after his death) would be a mournful remembrance about a lifelong love, a love greater than anything even the angels could comprehend.

The image comes from my visit to Poe’s grave several years ago in Baltimore.  

Friday Poe Quote – 05 June 2015

the Bells

It’s ironical, perhaps, that Poe managed to sell his poem ‘The Bells’, but that it wasn’t published until after his death in 1849. The poem has been disparaged through the years as simplistic, repetitive and as an aggravating example of onomatopoeia–that is, words formed from the sounds they define.   However, there have been a lot of convincing arguments made that there’s an awful lot going on in this poem. And considering the state of Poe’s material destitution in the last year of this life, ‘The Bells’ seems a natural rumination for Poe: life starts out in hopeful idealism, only to end in ruin and death. If you read this, make sure to read it aloud. 


Hear the sledges with the bells –

Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

In the icy air of night!

While the stars that oversprinkle

All the heavens, seem to twinkle

With a crystalline delight;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells –

From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.



Hear the mellow wedding bells –

Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Through the balmy air of night

How they ring out their delight! –

From the molten – golden notes,

And all in tune,

What a liquid ditty floats

To the turtle – dove that listens, while she gloats

On the moon!

Oh, from out the sounding cells,

What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!

How it swells!

How it dwells

On the Future! – how it tells

Of the rapture that impels

To the swinging and the ringing

Of the bells, bells, bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells –

To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells! 



Hear the loud alarum bells –

Brazen bells!

What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

In the startled ear of night

How they scream out their affright!

Too much horrified to speak,

They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune,

In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,

In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,

Leaping higher, higher, higher,

With a desperate desire,

And a resolute endeavor

Now – now to sit, or never,

By the side of the pale – faced moon.

Oh, the bells, bells, bells!

What a tale their terror tells

Of Despair!

How they clang, and clash and roar!

What a horror they outpour

On the bosom of the palpitating air!

Yet the ear, it fully knows,

By the twanging,

And the clanging,

How the danger ebbs and flows;

Yet the ear distinctly tells,

In the jangling,

And the wrangling,

How the danger sinks and swells,

By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells –

Of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells –

In the clamor and the clanging of the bells!



Hear the tolling of the bells –

Iron bells!

What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!

In the silence of the night,

How we shiver with affright

At the melancholy menace of their tone!

For every sound that floats

From the rust within their throats

Is a groan.

And the people – ah, the people –

They that dwell up in the steeple,

All alone,

And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,

In that muffled monotone,

Feel a glory in so rolling

On the human heart a stone –

They are neither man nor woman –

They are neither brute nor human –

They are Ghouls: –

And their king it is who tolls: –

And he rolls, rolls, rolls,


A paean from the bells!

And his merry bosom swells

With the paean of the bells!

And he dances, and he yells;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the paean of the bells: –

Of the bells:

Keeping time, time, time

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the throbbing of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells: –

To the sobbing of the bells: –

Keeping time, time, time,

As he knells, knells, knells,

In a happy Runic rhyme,

To the rolling of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells –

To the tolling of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells, –

To the moaning and the groaning of the bells. 

The image comes from the title page an 1912 edition of Poe’s poems called, The Bells and Other Poems, illustrated by Edmund Dulac.

Friday’s Maniacal Poe Quote – 22 May 2015


Though known for horror, mysteries, poetry and criticism, Poe also wrote a series of humorous or satirical short stories. They have not aged well; for the most part, they are awful. Here is an excerpt from one of them, ‘Lionizing’, considered to be less awful than most. The story is about a fantastic nose:  

There was myself. I spoke of myself;—of myself, of myself, of myself;—of Nosology, of my pamphlet, and of myself. I turned up my nose, and I spoke of myself.

“Marvellous clever man!” said the Prince.

“Superb!” said his guests:—and next morning her Grace of Bless-my-Soul paid me a visit.

“Will you go to Almack’s, pretty creature?” she said, tapping me under the chin.

“Upon honor,” said I.

“Nose and all?” she asked.

“As I live,” I replied.

“Here then is a card, my life. Shall I say you will be there?”

“Dear Duchess, with all my heart.”

“Pshaw, no!—but with all your nose?”

–from ‘Lionizing’ (1835)

This is one of the best passages from the story, mildly entertaining for its absurd banter. But the repetitive wordplay soon grows tiresome. 

Part morality tale, part bad joke with a really long set-up, part satire, this tale and others like were popular in the day. In this particular tale Poe satirizes a couple of other writers of the day; today no one remembers them, and any clever conceits are lost on the modern reader.   And so while my posts about Poe usually encourage to go back and read his stuff, today I’m not. Today I’d just like everyone to know that Poe had many interests and many pursuits. Thank goodness his humorous writing wasn’t the only one, or he wouldn’t be remembered today.

The image is from illustrator Harry Clarke, circa 1933. Clarke actually created an illustration for this story in a collection of Poe’s tales. Here you can see a gentleman examining the narrator’s nose.

Friday’s Maniacal Poe Quote – 15 May 2015


Poe was known for more than horror, the grotesque or the invention of the modern detective: he also wrote a collection of fanciful musings, mournful stories about mysticism, lost islands, lost races, lovely and frail women who tragically die long before their time. ‘The Island of the Fay’ is one such yarn:

She stood erect in a singularly fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere phantom of an oar. While within the influence of the lingering sunbeams, her attitude seemed indicative of joy—but sorrow deformed it as she passed within the shade. Slowly she glided along, and at length rounded the islet and re-entered the region of light. “The revolution which has just been made by the Fay,” continued I, musingly, “is the cycle of the brief year of her life. She has floated through her winter and through her summer. She is a year nearer unto Death; for I did not fail to see that, as she came into the shade, her shadow fell from her, and was swallowed up in the dark water, making its blackness more black.” 

–from ‘The Island of the Fay’ (1841) 

Make no mistake; though this Fay is a fairy, an otherworldly creature, she is a woman, and as such is part of one of Poe’s favorite memes: ‘The death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical thing in the world.’   

The narrator of this story watches the island from a distance, and watches the Fay circle her boat round and round about the isle, becoming more and more faint and insubstantial, until she mournfully paddles herself toward oblivion and death. 

The story, first published in Graham’s in 1841, begins as an essay, but really is another short story. If you read this tale, stick with it; the first couple of pages are dry, incomprehensible mysticism crap. But the prose evolves into some of the most beautifully poetic language Poe ever put to pen. 

The image comes from an uncertain origin. It appeared in Graham’s Magazine in 1841, and was intended to accompany Poe’s story.   The caption to the engraving read ‘Engraved for Graham’s Magazine from an Original by Martin’, but it seems the painting is actually dated to 1819. So perhaps Poe wrote the tale based on the painting….

Friday’s Maniacal Poe Quote – 01 May 2015

imp of perverse

Have any of you ever resisted an sudden urge to veer your car into the opposing lane? Or veer it over the concrete abutment to sail from a high bridge to certain death at the bottom of a gorge? Edgar A. Poe felt these urges, and wrote about them in his essay: 

We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss—we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain. By slow degrees our sickness and dizziness and horror become merged in a cloud of unnamable feeling. By gradations, still more imperceptible, this cloud assumes shape, as did the vapor from the bottle out of which arose the genius in the Arabian Nights. But out of this our cloud upon the precipice’s edge, there grows into palpability, a shape, far more terrible than any genius or any demon of a tale, and yet it is but a thought, although a fearful one, and one which chills the very marrow of our bones with the fierceness of the delight of its horror. It is merely the idea of what would be our sensations during the sweeping precipitancy of a fall from such a height. And this fall—this rushing annihilation—for the very reason that it involves that one most ghastly and loathsome of all the most ghastly and loathsome images of death and suffering which have ever presented themselves to our imagination—for this very cause do we now the most vividly desire it. And because our reason violently deters us from the brink, therefore do we the most impetuously approach it. There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a Plunge. 

–from ‘The Imp of the Perverse’ (1845) 

However, it’s not an essay. As Poe did in several other faked factual accounts–‘The Premature Burial’ the most famous example–his essay about the impulse to act against one’s own best self interest turns into a short story. In this one, the narrator’s a murderer driven, years after his crime, into sudden confession.   

The murderers in ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Black Cat’ succumb to the same urge. And perhaps Poe himself did this throughout his tragic life, a life full of grave mistakes, sudden turnabouts and personal acts of stupidity committed at the worst possible times. Despite this flawed behavior, Poe’s exploration of this urge forecasts the Freudian psychology of the subconscious and repression. Indeed, a mad genius. 

The image comes from the cover of an old LP of Vincent Price reading Poe stories, including ‘Imp of the Perverse.’