Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be one of America’s most prominent poets. While his reputation precedes him, there is little that is actually known about the famous author. His life can only be accurately summed up by a few historical accounts and a series of letters written in his own hand. These, of course, do not even come close to describing the man behind the pen, as it were. One critic writes, “monomania can easily be developed over the motely tragedy of the personal life of Poe, so deeply buried under a shifting mass of conflicting rumours, echoes of rumours, and downright lies” (Bradsher 241). He was, socially, a private man, but he gave the world something more interesting and powerful that can be told in letters and biographies; he gave us himself. Every poem, short story, or piece of literature that his ink marked upon paper was a part of him. They are these things we must study in order to understand Poe. What’s more is that we must understand these things in order to see him. Poe even states that “the mind of a painter is expressed in his pictures” (Poetical 360). His entire repertoire is the key to the proverbial lock of his intent behind his own masterpiece. These are what have made Poe such a notorious figure in American culture. Experiences within Edgar Allan Poe’s life lead to his different perspectives on death. By analysing Annabel Lee, The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, we can see that these perspectives include: hope; despair; and fear.
Annabel Lee is one of Poe’s more famous poems. It is about a young man (the narrator) that falls in love with a girl when they are both children. Their love was so strong that it made even the angels jealous, so Annabel Lee was stricken ill by the heavens and perished, as Poe describes in the poem itself, found on page 44 of Selection from Poe:
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.
Robert Law writes of Poe’s use of eloquent language and structural intentions to associate each stanza with a certain emotion (343). This allows Poe to expand on certain ideas while the reader can focus on the words and feel the emotions he intended at the same time. By studying this extraordinary piece of literature, we can understand Poe’s intention with the piece, which leads me to believe that he viewed death as a part of life. It was just another chapter, in which he was reunited with his lost love. This knowledge gave Poe a semblance of hope in death that he conveyed with this poem. Not only is that sense of peace obvious by looking at the words poem, you can almost feel the calmness that emanates from its structure. The stanzas, sounds, and rhyme scheme make it almost melodious. Werner writes that the “arrangement of [sounds] has much to do with the musical qualities of verse” (159).
The Raven is a more...