Essay

Maegan
Pritchard, Piagasi
English 10, Period 5
25 March 2011
Edgar Poe
            I have thought of artists – one who has conceived something that is of pure aesthetic beauty and structure. Musicians, painters, actors, writers, and so on, are all artists; this I assure my audience. Edgar Poe – an artist whose verses illustrate intense trepidation, technical and abstract beauty; his use of harmonic rhythm and figures of speech are utterly striking – there is an indescribable lure about the poet’s life and reminiscences. His childhood and youth, his education, his colleagues and intimacies, his whereabouts – whether it is Baltimore, Richmond, Boston, Philadelphia – not only the places themselves, but all, if not very often, are reflections of his works. Of Poe’s (approximately) one hundred twenty-five published works, I have chosen three which I feel renders Poe’s life into his works – those being the epic poem, “Tamerlane,” the romantic short story, “Eleonora,” and the prose poem Eureka.
            In essence, “Tamerlane” is distinctly a poem of Poe’s youth, having published this work when he was a mere boy of 17 ("Tamerlane and the Army"). The first note struck in “Tamerlane” is that of independence, ambition, and a conflict of earlier happiness, which is overcome with regret ("Tamerlane and the Army"). “I have reach’d my home – my home no more/ For all had flown who made it so… On beds of fire that burn below/ An humbler heart – a deeper wo,” – Poe arrived at the city of his birth; it was his first independent venture, I dare say how outlandish he must have felt, in a home that feels not of a home. “But that, among the ramble-men/ Lion ambition is chain’d down/ And crouches to a keeper’s hand/ Not so in deserts where the grand/ The wild – the terrible conspire/ With their own breath to fan his fire.” The obscure youth endeavored to create a grand reputation, though he knows well enough not to become cloaked in the overwhelming ‘fire’. “E’en then who knew this iron heart/ In woman’s weakness had a part/ I have no words – alas! – to tell/ The loveliness of loving well/ Nor would I now attempt to trace/ The more than beauty of a face… The letters – with their meaning – melt/ To fantasies – with none.” Clearly the centre allegory of “Tamerlane” is of Sarah Elmira Royster – Poe’s first love, who he wrote love letters to while serving the country; though, in opposition, her father intercepted these letters, and two years latter Elmira married another ("Sarah Elmira Royster"). In malady of the spirit, Poe ends this poem – “Father, I firmly do believe/ I know – for Death who comes for me… How was it that Ambition crept/ Unseen, amid the revels there/ Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt/ In the tangles of Love’s very hair?”
         “Eleonora” is based upon the tragedy which founts from the sorrow which comes to a lover on the death of his beloved. Contrary to the cryptic and often questionable course of Poe’s career, there was one eminent certainty; that being the love of Virginia – steadfast and requisite ("Following the Illusion"). “She whom I loved in youth, and of whom I now pen calmly and distinctly these remembrances, was the sole daughter of the only sister of my mother long departed. Eleonora was the name of my cousin. We had always dwelled together, beneath a tropical sun, in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass,” – as Virginia matured, the reverence of the child Poe married grew into the devotion of a woman – “Hand in hand about this valley, for fifteen years, roamed I with Eleonora before Love entered within our hearts,” ("Following the Illusion"). “She had seen that the finger of Death was upon her bosom – that, like the ephemeron, she had been made perfect in loveliness only to die; but the terrors of the grave, to her, lay solely in a consideration which she revealed to me… She grieved to think that, having entombed her in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass, I would quit forever its happy recesses, transferring the love which now was so passionately her own to some maiden of the outer and every-day world,” – at the time of the publication of this tale his wife Virginia had just begun to show signs of illness, though she would not be ‘entombed’ for another five years,” ("Eleonora (short Story)). “Eleonora” is considered to be an autobiographical short story written for Poe to alleviate his own feelings of guilt for considering to “bind myself in marriage to any daughter of earth,” thus refuting his promise made ("Eleonora (short Story)). “Yet the promises of Eleonora were not forgotten… But the void within my heart refused, even thus, to be filled. I longed for the love which had before filled it to overflowing,” – Poe’s love of his beloved, Virginia, had never diminished, and well enough never will be nonetheless he realizes love is a means of fate; it is something which cannot be willed. “I wedded; nor dreaded the curse I had invoked; and its bitterness was not visited upon me,” – knowing he had the best of intentions at heart, Poe knows he needs not to feel guilt if he fully devotes his love unto another as he did Virginia. “…familiar and sweet voice, saying: ‘Sleep in peace! – for the Spirit of Love reigneth and ruleth, and, in taking to thy passionate heart her who is Ermengarde, thou art absolved, for reasons which shall be made known to thee in Heaven, of thy vows unto Eleonora.’”
         The climax of Poe’s creative achievement, his very own Magnum Opus to which he devoted so much time and effort, is the prose poem – Eureka: An Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe. Knowing my own limitations I will not attempt to express the genius that is Eureka; the only individual who truly justifies this work is Poe himself – “To the few who love me and whom I love – to those who feel rather than to those who think – to the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities – I offer this Book of Truths, not in its character of Truth-Teller, but for the Beauty that abounds in its Truth; constituting it true. To these I present the composition as an Art-Product alone: - let us say as a Romance; or, if I be not urging too lofty a claim, as a Poem. What I here propound is true: - * therefore it cannot die: - or if by any means it be now trodden down so that it die, it will ‘rise again to the Life Everlasting.’ Nevertheless it is as a Poem only that I wish this work be judged after I am dead.” His preface (the quotes just now excerpted) is the means to decipher the true denote of all Poe’s life and works to which he wrote; which are intermingled. “… to those who feel rather than to those who think…,” is an exhibition of Poe’s authentic literary composition and object of thought; to feel rather than think, to focus on intuition of thought rather than analyzing from fact. It is necessary to acknowledge that in this work Poe makes known his uses and conception of the term, ‘Universe’. “By the term Universe… I mean in most cases to designate the utmost conceivable expanse of space, with all things, spiritual and material, that can be imagined to exist within the compass of that expanse,” – firmly he believes the Universe brings into existence all, tangible and intangible, that Matter and Spirit exist in a wide extent of everything. “In speaking of what is ordinarily implied by the expression, ‘Universe’ I shall take a phrase of limitation – ‘the Universe of Stars’… Were the succession of stars endless, then the background of the sky would present us an uniform luminosity, like that displayed by the Galaxy – since there could be absolutely no point, in all that background, at which would not exist a star,” –  an interesting conception Poe has, for he believes the Universe of Stars as not illimitable but finite ("Eureka"). “In the meantime bear in mind that all is Life – Life – Life within Life – the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit Divine.”
            Of Poe’s (approximately) one hundred twenty-five published works, I have chosen three which I feel renders Poe’s life into his works – those being the epic poem, “Tamerlane,” the romantic short story, “Eleonora,” and the prose poem Eureka. In essence, “Tamerlane” is distinctly a poem of Poe’s youth. “Eleonora” is based upon the tragedy which founts from the sorrow which comes to a lover on the death of his beloved. The climax of Poe’s creative achievement, his very own Magnum Opus to which he devoted so much time and effort, is the prose poem – Eureka: An Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe. Nineteenth century verse-lovers, such as myself, can only help but inquire, ‘One can only wonder what lies in the mind of Poe.’
 Works Cited
"205. Edgar Poe’s Significance. Specimen Days. Whitman, Walt. 1892. Prose Works." Bartleby.com: Great Books Online -- Quotes, Poems, Novels, Classics and Hundreds More. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. <http://www.bartleby.com/229/1205.html>.
"Eleonora (short Story)." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 2001. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleonora_(short_story)>.
"Eureka: A Prose Poem." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eureka:_A_Prose_Poem>.
Poe, Edgar Allan, and Thomas Ollive Mabbott. Selected Poetry and Prose of Edgar Allan Poe. New York, NY: Modern Library, 1951. Print.
"Poe: Eureka." American Studies @ The University of Virginia. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/eureka.html>.
Quinn, Arthur Hobson. "Eureka." Http://www.eapoe.org/index.htm. 1 May 1997. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. <http://www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1921/quinnc17.htm>.
Quinn, Arthur Hobson. "Following the Illusion." Http://www.eapoe.org/index.htm. 1 May 1997. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. <http://www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1921/quinnc13.htm>.
Quinn, Arthur Hobson. "Tamerlane and the Army." Http://www.eapoe.org/index.htm. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, 1 May 1997. Web. 19 Mar. 2011. <http://www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1921/quinnc06.htm>.
"Sarah Elmira Royster." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Elmira_Royster>.