Edgar Allan Poe

United States
19 Jan 1809 // 7 Oct 1849
Poet

Task Delay

We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken today, and yet we put it off until to-morrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. Tomorrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us, of the definite with the indefinite of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest have proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails, we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies it disappears we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!

Edgar Allan Poe, in 'The Complete Stories and Poems'
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