Edgar Poe

“Poetry is a form of imaginative literary expression that makes its effect
by the sound and imagery of its language (“Poetry”).” Many poets base
their writings on their personal experiences throughout life. Some poets write
of their memories or hopes, or even dreams. Edgar Allan Poe was one of the
greatest American writers of all time. He was known as a poet and critic. Poe is
one of many authors whos life has been reflected throughout his poems and
other writings. E. A. Poe was born in Boston in 1809. He was orphaned in early
childhood. He was raised by a businessman in England from the age of six. He
returned to the U.S. after many years, remaining in private schools. In America,
Poe dug himself into a life of alcohol and gambling. His foster father, John
Allan, was displeased with this and forced him to work as a clerk. Poe hated his
job as a clerk, quit the job, and went back to Boston. This upset John Allan
extremely. In Boston, Poe published his first book, Tamerland and Other Poems.

He soon enlisted, and served two years in the United States Army. Afterwards Poe
published a second volume to his book, naming it Al Aaraaf. He began reconciling
with Allan, who got him an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Poe was
accepted but was dismissed for neglect of duty after only a short time. Allan
then disowned Poe, permanently. A couple of years later Poes third book,
Poems, was published. He moved again, now to Baltimore, where he lived with his
aunt and her eleven year-old daughter, Virginia Clemm. The next year he released
another book, A MS. Found in a Bottle, with this he won a writing contest.

Poetry Poe became an editor shortly after the contest, he worked for Southern
Literary Messenger. During these two years at the company he married his younger
cousin, Virginia. Viriginia became ill, and Poe moved from job to job. After
eleven years of marriage, Virginia died and Poe himself became ill. He had a
dangerous addiction to liquor and drugs. These addictions are claimed to be the
reason for Poes early death in 1849 (Davidson). One of Poes greatest
poems, published only a few years before his death, was “The Raven.” The
poem starts off with a man falling asleep, when a tapping starts at his door. He
lets it go, figuring it to be a visitor, not sure if he heard it in the first
place. He begins thinking of the woman he has lost for evermore, Lenore.

Finally, he opens the door, for the tapping comes again only louder, but there
is no one there. He whispers into the darkness – Lenore? No answer. The tapping
starts again as he crawls into bed, this time the tapping is at the window. He
goes to it….there stands a raven. He tries to speak to it, and the Raven
responds “Nevermore.” He begins thinking about Lenore. As he does, the raven
seems to answer his thoughts with one word…. “Nevermore” The bird ends up
staying even though the man pleads with him to depart. he then realized his
soul, just as the shadow on the floor, cast by the raven, shall be lifted –
Nevermore! The bird seemed to torture him to the soul. This was what he needed
to bring him to realize he will never be happy again, for he will mourn over
Lenore forever. While reading “The Raven, I had the conception of a
raven – the bird of ill omen – monotonously repeating the one word
“Nevermore,” at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of Poetry
melancholy tone, and in length about one hundred lines,” says Young, editor of
Poetry Criticism. Many essays have been written on the meaning of Poes
poetry. In one instance it was written “here we might briefly mention that
The Raven was more an attempt to outline Poes view of what poetry
should be and should do than it was forth right demonstration of how “The
Raven” came to be” (Kesterson 115). Only Poe himself really knows what his
poem meant. In Kestersons conclusion h e states “Thus we can see the split in
Poes imaginative world: there were elements of reality, and there were
faculties of the mind or imagination (Kesterson).” Poes symbols are such
mediations such as the dramatic bird and its voice. Kestersons goes on to say
“The Raven is a virtual admission of universal disparity: the
imagination is lost in the shadow that lies upon the floor, while the inanimate
objects, bird and bust, stare out in triumphant rigidity (Kesterson).” Many
believe “The Raven” reflects on Poes own life. It was only years before
that he had lost his dear wife, Virginia. Poe may have still been remorseful of
losing her. The bird in the story seems to symbolize the objects in Poes
life, which torture his soul, something that may remind him of Virginia, or an
obstacle in his life. The reflection of Poes life can be seen in many of his
poems and other writings. His poems are highly recommended to anyone who enjoys

Davidson, Edward H. Poe: A Critical Study. Cambridge: The Bolknap Press of
Harvard University Press, 1966. 84-92. Kesterson, David B. Critics on Poe. Coral
Gables: Miami Press, 1973. 23 “Poe, Edgar Allan.” Microsoft (R) Encarta (R)
96 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1995. Microsoft Corporation (c) Funk & Wagnalls
Corporation. “Poetry.” Microsoft (R) Encarta (R) 96 Encyclopedia. (c)
1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. (c) Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. Smith,
Dave. “The Essential Poe Selected By Dave Smith.” volume 14. New Jersey.

1991. 42. Young, Robyn V. “Poetry Criticism.” volume 1. Detroit, New York:
Gale Research, Inc. 1991. 419.


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