poem20 Nov 2017 11:21 am

“The Masque of the Red Death” is short—
a story in seven pages—
and so much of it
is Poe’s description of the rooms,
the twisting ballrooms of the castle
where Prince Prospero has locked himself away
from the plague.

Blue                Green               White              Black & Red
        Purple              Orange             Violet

Seven rooms, each a different color,
as in Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle,
where Judith begs her murderous bridegroom
for seven keys to seven doors
that lead to rooms of various intent.

Blood-Red: the torture chamber
Yellow-Red: the armory
Golden: the treasury
Blue-Green: the garden
White: the veranda
Black: the lake of tears
Silver: the previous wives

Judith opens doors to pain and flowers,
neither frightened nor wooed enough to stop.
Prospero runs through rooms of music and tapestries,
chasing that figure in the mask.

If they could forget what they’re looking for,
would anything
end differently?

they continue
to the final room,
to that truth
they can’t refuse.

illustration By Harry Clarke – Printed in Edgar Allan Poe’sTales of Mystery and Imagination, 1919., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2348546

One Response to “The Seventh Room, by Janna Layton”

  1. […] Janna Layton’s poem, “The Seventh Room,” in the literary magazine Polu […]

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