“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,” (“The Raven” 1). “The Raven” arguably one of the most famous poems by Edgar Allan Poe, is a narrative about a depressed man longing for his lost love. Confronted by a talking raven, the man slowly loses his sanity. “The Haunted Palace” a ballad by Poe is a brilliant and skillfully crafted metaphor that compares a palace to a human skull and mind. A palace of opulence slowly turns into a dilapidated ruin. This deterioration is symbolic of insanity and death. In true Poe style, both “The Raven” and “The Haunted Palace” are of the gothic/dark romanticism genre. These poems highlight sadness, death, and loss. As to be expected, an analysis of the poems reveals differences and parallels. An example of this is Poe’s use of poetic devices within each poem. Although different in structure, setting, and symbolism these two poems show striking similarities in tone and theme.
The structure and setting of these poems is quite different. “The Raven” is a narrative poem consisting of 18 stanzas. Each stanza consists of six lines. Conversely, “The Haunted Palace” is a ballad consisting of only 6 stanzas and a total of 48 lines. The setting of “The Raven” takes place in a chamber. We are not sure what type of room the chamber is; only that it is dark as the fire is dying and throwing shadows on the floor (“The Raven” 1-8). The setting of “The Haunted Palace” takes place in a palace in a valley. At first, the palace is beautiful and peaceful, but it turns to a dark sad ruin. Recall the palace is a metaphor (allegory) for the mind, so the setting also includes the healthy mind growing insane (Meyer, p. 893). While the structure and setting are dissimilar, the same is not true of the tone.
During comparison, we see Poe uses a similar tone in these poems. In “The Raven”, the tone is dark, melancholy, and distressed. From the very beginning of the poem, Poe creates a “dreary” tone. Further, we sense the mindset of the narrator as he is “weak and weary” (“The Raven” 1). Similarly, the tone of “The Haunted Palace” turns mournful, dark, and troubled. In the fifth stanza Poe states, “But evil things in robes of sorrow,/Assailed the monarch’s high estate./(Ah, let us mourn!-for never morrow/Shall dawn upon him desolate!)” (“The Haunted Palace” 33-36). Here we see the mourning and sadness of the king (monarch). Likewise, we feel the narrator’s grief over his lost love Lenore in “The Raven”. Lines 8 and 9 state, “Eagerly I wished the morrow;-vainly I had sought to borrow/From my books surcease of sorrow-sorrow for the lost Lenore-” (“The Raven”). The narrator and the king are both in a dark place and alone in their sorrow.
Much like the tone, the poems have related themes. Both “The Raven” and “The Haunted Palace” share a theme of losing sanity. In “The Haunted Palace”, the deterioration of the palace is analogous to the decay of a healthy mind. Poe spins an intricate web of...