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Edgar Allan Poe, one of the world’s most renounce poets, was born on January 19, 1809. Edgar Allan Poe did not have the easiest childhood. Poe’s mother passed away when he was two years old, which led to him and his two other siblings to be separated. Poe would end up being raised by a man named John Allan. John Allan was a wealthy man but never supported Poe financially. When Poe grew up he developed a drinking problem, which caused him to drop out of college.
Soon after, Poe joined the army and began to climb the ranks. After leaving the army, Poe moved to New York in 1831 and began his journey as a struggling writer. Poe had no friends, no job, and had financial problems. However, his work started to be published gradually.
Edgar Allan Poe’s literary works our often known for their dark and eerie tone. Poe’s life and experiences is what influences his style of writing and become his trademark.
Poe became a famous writer posthumously and his works are celebrated and analysed. In his works, Poe demonstrates a talented use of language and technique to captivate his audience and display original idea. Poe’s works follow various rhyme schemes and are sometimes in free verse. The topics the Poe wrote about were unconventional during his time. However, his works inspired French Symbolists. Edgar Allan Poe’s poems have a common theme of darkness and loneliness throughout them. The themes of darkness and loneliness can be explored and connected to Edgar Allan Poe’s life in his works of Alone, The Valley of Unrest, and Spirits of the Dead.
The poem titled Alone was written in 1829. The poem follows the narration of an adult looking back on childhood. The central theme of the poem is loneliness. The narrator of the poem express that the feeling of loneliness has been in their childhood and continues to their present day. The narrator also states that they are alienated because they see the world in a different view than others. The beginning of the poem states that the narrator has observed the world differently which caused him to be lonely. The narrator had no one to relate his views with, thus causing him to have the lack of emotionally connecting with the people around him. “Then in my childhood in the dawn/ Of most stormy life was drawn/ From ev’ry depth of good and ill/ The mystery which binds me still,” (Poe 9-12).
The following lines explain that the loneliness that is felt leads to the questioning of why the world is viewed differently through the eyes of others. A potential answer to the question is that the loneliness that people feel is the cause of differentiating views. In this case, loneliness is not only apart of the question proposed, but also apart of the answer that the narrator seeks. The loneliness that is felt is what leads the narrator to question the world and to search for answers. It is the unique feeling that allows that narrator to expand the perspective and see and understand scenarios that would deem unconventional. The use of imagery also shows the narrators fate, “And the cloud that took the form/ (When the rest of the Heaven was blue)/ Of a demon in my view,” (Poe 20-22). These lines continue the statement of different views on the world. The narrator is focused on a cloud in the sky that is shaped like a demon, while the rest of the world is focused on the beauty of the blue sky. This line about the demon relates throughout the poem in that everything the narrator sees, only a demon is perceived. The alienation and lack of emotional connection is what allows the narrator to see his demon. The narrator also accepts the fate that the demon will forever be in view. Thus, the narrator will always be lonely, alienated, and different from others. Through the analysis of the poem, one can infer that the narrator is Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe was separated from his siblings at a young age and did not have an emotional connection with his step-parents. He also did not have a male, father figure to look up to, as his step-father was unsupportive of him in all aspects. The loneliness that the narrator feels is congruent with what Poe feels. His lonely and alienated childhood has left him to see the world differently than others and to question what he feels. Another factor that affects how the world is viewed, is the experiences that one has. Poe has had a life of loneliness, pain, and sorrow, which will affect how he sees the world. He sees the world for its dark aspects and struggles to see the beauty when the demons of his past are prominent. Through his poem, Poe expresses that he feels joy, anguish, and love at the things he sees, but he has no one to share those feelings with. With the last lines of the poem, the narrator expresses a demon that is seen in everything. One can assume that Edgar Allan Poe has this same demon of his childhood that has followed him throughout his life.In 1845 Edgar Allan Poe completed his final revision of “ The Valley of Unrest”, with its original writing in 1831. The poem takes place during a war, however it is unclear as to which war Poe is referring too. Poe joined the U.S army in 1827 at the age of eighteen and achieved the rank of sergeant major. Do to his rank, it is reasonable to deduce that Poe has seen and experienced death and the cost of war, first hand. Poe’s time in the army also influences the topic of death that is in his writings. The poem’s premise is a home that has been abandoned and has left the stars to watch over the home and the flowers.
The poem itself uses symbolism to demonstrate a greater meaning. The objects used in symbolism are everyday, common items that help create an image for the reader. The abandoned house is a symbol for the causes of war. The residents of the home had to abandon their home because of war and its path of destruction. Everything is left behind and left to be watched over by the sun and the moon. The house itself is empty which symbolizes the empty feeling that one gets from war and losing loved ones. The poem also touches base with a life that was too short because of war. Poe served in the army and has experienced such things first hand. Death will always be a constant as long as there is war or something to destroy it. “The Valley of Unrest” displays the costs of war such as abandonment and an emptiness that is left from death.Poe uses symbolism through “ The Valley of Unrest”, “In the midst of which all day/ The red sun-light lazily lay,” (Poe 7-8). The red in the sun symbolizes the blood that is being spilled though war. Poe states that the sun is up all day in order to imply that there is a vast amount of blood. Edgar Allan Poe connects life and death in relation to how the sun and the stars are connected. The sun will always set and it will always rise. This implies that because the red sun rises everyday, blood will be spilled everyday. This also states the inevitability of death. It is known that death will always be there and because of war it is abundantly present everyday, just like the burning sun.
In contrast, the stars symbolizes life and peace. Stars are not always apparent and are covered by the clouds. A person may not be able to see the stars but it is an understanding that they are there. The sun however is always out, even if covered by a cloud it is still apparent to the eye. Just like during a war, the deaths is the major story and concentration. There are countless deaths and it becomes overwhelming and it is the main focus. However, just like the stars, there is life in the war. There are people that come together and national heroes are made. The war will have survivors and people to tell its story, but the story will be about those who have died and not have a focus on those who lived to tell the story. Just like the rest of the world, Poe’s concentration throughout the poem is the destruction and death. Poe informs the readers of the countless soldier that are lost and unidentified, “over three lilies there that wave and weep above a nameless grave,” (Poe 23). There are countless lives that are taken because of war and not all can be identified. Those souls go to the valley of Unrest. They have no one to mourn for them and are lost souls. This statement does not only apply to Poe’s time but to current time as well. Just like the sun, stars, and war, a nameless grave will always be a constant. The nameless soldiers can also be connected to “ Spirits of the Dead”. The souls mourn for the lost of life and lose left on earth may mourn for the one they lost without proper closure. Poe’s mention of the lilies is also another use of symbolism. The lilies represent the fragility of life. The sun and moon were left to watch over the flowers, meaning that either death or peace could take life. Flowers are fragile just like life, and war will destroy anything in its path.
Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Spirits of the Dead was first published with the title of “Visits of the Dead” in his 1827 collection of poetry, known as Tamerlane and Other Poems. The poem itself is considered to be one of Poe’s most personal writings. He uses personification to help set an atmosphere for the readers that is eerie and dark. The poem is about two lost souls, one that has passed away and the other is the souls that was left on earth to mourn. Poe ended up marrying his cousin Virginia Clemm. Virginia Clemm played an important role in Poe’s life and her death, at a young age of twenty-five, affected him tremendously. It was his wife’s death which led him to write about the dead and question the aspects of an afterlife. His wife’s death left him alone and left him to continue to wallow in the loneliness he has felt his whole life. The poem itself follows the two perspectives of Poe and Virginia. Another popular interpretation of the poem is that it is a dialogue between Virginia Clemm and Edgar Allan Poe. The poems central themes are mourning and feeling lost. Both souls are lost without each other and both have to mourn for one another. Poe also touches base on the process of mourning and the feelings one can have, or perhaps the feelings he had when mourning for his wife.A central theme in Spirits of the Dead is a feeling of being lost and alone. The poem begins with the stage of sadness, “Thy soul shall find itself alone,” (Poe 1). This is the first line of the poem and it is ironically the first thought that one may have when losing a loved one, and is unclear as to which soul is being mentioned. The soul of the departed is now alone and disconnected with the living.
The soul left on Earth is now without the one they loved. Poe has lost everyone in his life, from his siblings, birth parents, step-parents, and now the person he loved. Poe’s literary work also states the feeling of being lost and that mourning is an action that takes over. Both spirits that are written about are dead and in mourning. Poe is mourning for his lost love, and that lost has caused him to feel as if he were truly dead. This shows the impact that Virginia Clemm had on Edgar Allan Poe and how the only way he could continue to write about his love is through talking about the dead. Poe also uses imagery to depict the stages of mourning, “As a burning and a fever which would cling to thee forever,” (Poe 17-18). The stages that are presented throughout the poem are sadness, anger, and then surrender. Poe uses the fever two depict the anger that is felt from losing his wife and the lack of understanding. Death is inevitable, however it is avoided for as long as possible. It is not understood as to what happens after death. Poe’s anger comes from his wife being taken from him and not knowing what will happen to her. As expressed in his previous works, such as “Alone”, Poe has felt alone and alienated his whole life and that loneliness is what leads him to question what happens after death. As the poem comes to a close, the mood changes to a sense of surrender. This is the last stage in Poe’s mourning process.
Poe surrenders to anger of not knowing and being mad at the world for its unfairness. In doing so, he surrenders to his destiny that he will lose those around him and forever have the demon of loneliness with him. Edgar Allan Poe is a fluential writer and his works share a different perspective. Each of his poems have and element that can be tied to each other. Both “The Valley of the Unrest” and “Spirits of the Dead” can be connected through their shared them of death, afterlife, and loneliness. In “Alone” the theme of loneliness is what connects it to the two other works and to Poe himself. The feeling of loneliness in Poe’s works is the source of the dark atmosphere. Being alone is what led Poe to see the world differently and to share his views of a dark world. “Spirits of the Dead” shows the steps of mourning. It also shows a personal side to Poe and how the loss of his wife affected him. “Alone” shows Poe looking back on his childhood and tells how the demon of his past will forever be with him. “The Valley of the Unrest” shows what Poe has experienced and seen during war, and tells the readers of its cost. Edgar Allan Poe’s literary works show connections to his life and his thoughts and the common theme in his works and life was being alone.
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