meaning of "For Annie" : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Is the poem "For Annie" about a sexual encounter?

-- Anonymous, April 24, 2001


No,if Im not mistaken, I think he was talking about a girl he planned on marrying. There wasnt a sexual act, I dont think, i think he was just talking about what he would do for her.


-- Anonymous, April 27, 2001

In light of the circumstances of Poe's life, my husband recently suggested this poem is about alcoholism and/or drug use. The more I research this idea, the more inclined I am to agree with him. To an alcoholic, sobriety is painful, and it seems that Annie may have been his cornerstone to reality.

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2002

this poem was indead for a women he cared for but this is a really really good analysis of the poem

Edgar Allen Poe's stance in his macabre love poem For Annie is so mad as to have the touch of genius in its eccentricity. In this poetic pose Poe has no equal, antecedent, or descendant in the annals of world literature, for he takes the grossest imagery and endues it with the quality of the Romantic. The reader is taunted with the simplistic sing-song rhyme of the first verse and jabbed with the concept that life is a fever. Obviously the parallel is that a warm body is alive and one that is cool is not alive, so if life is like a fever symptomized by hot blood then Poe's protagonist is speaking from the dead. However, as all three fates would have it, there is a twist to Poe's syllabic string, and that makes for a transcendent level of imagery. It is a not obscurely written clue in Poe's verse that we find as we continue. His reference to a naphthalene river is absolutely fantastic in that there are no rivers of such substance, which is an expensively refined chemical solvent such as we find in many products that are considered toxic if inhaled. Poe has said elsewhere that his device was to focus on words leading up to even ONE word for maximum effect. As a writer he was and remains a writer's writer. His invention of the detective story was a direct result of his fascination with details and what details say and do to the observer. In this case his poem has the ephemeral quality of an ether-soaked handkerchief, which is wet one instant and dry in seconds. He commences by saying "sadly" he laments the loss of physical strength, as when the ether is but beginning to take its potentially deadly effect. The mad rush of living seems as far away to him as when the addict looks back on his frustration after his dose, after his fix, which is a totally different world by virtue of the drug than when he can only feel his need for the same. Instantly Poe hypnotizes (or to coin a phrase, hypno-anesthetizes) the unaware reader by suggesting that he is resting "composedly", a suddenly more neutral state than the sadness of a moment ago. It takes longer to write it than to read it, but the time flow is close enough to synchronize. Poe seems to relish in his deadpan recital that he could pass as if dead to anyone seeing him in his trance. The cue for the reader to follow Poe's stream of consciousness up his ethereal stairway to heaven is found in his invitation to think at more than one level. When he says "no muscle I move as I lie at length" he makes reference to his physical space by the word "length" but in the following line he says "But no matter!-I feel / I am better at length". Here Poe is almost but for the punctuation saying that he feels no matter, but even if it is not a metaphysical statement he clearly says he is better at "length", a reference to time. Better at length, but in looking back in the short term he refers to the horrors of his being without his fix, to the "moaning and groaning, the sighing the sobbing ... the sickness, the nausea, the pitiless pain ... ", all of which sound like the torture of the addict’s withdrawal symptoms. It is said that the intoxicating love of or for some women can be compared to a drug and its addiction, but I suspect Poe may be doing the reverse in his piece overall. At any rate, he declares that for the moment he has "drunk of a water that quenches all thirst", a water that flows with a lullaby sound. It is in the preceding lines that he says the thirst has been for the "naphthaline river" [nowadays we spell it "naphthalene"] of Passion accurst. It is not the passion of the wolf but that of the monk that he seems to invoke though, since he goes on to speak of how his "tantalized spirit" remembers former material attachments, that passion which is an attachment to material things (things made of matter). Those are the "old agitations" that his spirt refuses to regret, and there is no repentance found in Poe's protagonist. But he can forget the former passion as he now perceives what he calls a holier odor. He has gone from past roses to present rosemary and pansy, quite a sniffing journey. He cites his spirit as lying "blandly", blandly now--- no longer in ecstasy--- but upon perception of the holier odor it "lies happily [bold type mine ] in many a dream of the truth and the beauty of Annie". About thirty years ago there was an entire generation speaking of truth found in the mists of the mind when under the influence of LSD or other psychoactive substances. Drugs may or may not have contributed to Poe's demise, certainly they have contributed to the demise of many. One modern day singer, Neil Young, has even sung about heroin, saying that he has seen "the needle and the damage done ... but every junkie is like a setting sun". It is the nature of the human mind to be egocentric, so when a drugged brain perceives itself in the center of the universe it can find wonderful truth in believing the universe revolves around it. Let us note that Poe has only just now in the poem’s chronological development mentioned Annie as either a woman or as a pseudonym for his intoxicated bliss. Instantly, like Alice through the looking glass, it is another image that comes to mind. The reader's consciousness is already firmly planted in the body of a man who is lying like one dead (but no matter, he can still feel even if he cannot move). Now he says he is bathing in dreams of truth and beauty, but he is drowning in a bath of the tresses of Annie. This image makes sense if Annie is a lover with long hair, whose embrace of this apparently dead man is effected by her leaning over him. It can seem to a man that his woman's long hair is like a gentle rain on him. Yet this image is not accurate nor literal, for it is a device used by Poe to speak of momentary contact with the beloved. He says he FALLS asleep ON her breast (and deeply to sleep) FROM the heaven of her breast. It is a very quick touch. And it is over. Like when someone leans over a coffin to gaze upon the departing one. From this point on the poet is just cleaning up. His poem has reached its climax, now he says he lies "composedly ... in [his] bed (knowing her love)". He rests contentedly now, he says, with her love at his breast. Is it a white death flower? I can only imagine a very dry handkerchief fallen from the hand of a sleeping man in some narrow cot somewhere. His dismal surroundings are worlds away from where his mind lies. He could be in a cheap hotel room but his thoughts are in heavenly chambers. The final verse of the poem seems stilted and patched on, as if added the morning after. The same heart that was earlier the source of "horrible throbbing" is now rather described as "brighter than all of the many stars in the sky". It glows, says Poe, it sparkles with Annie. It glows with the light of the love of his Annie, with the thought of the light of the eyes of Annie. The necromantic imagery of the dead and the living in love is but a pallid backdrop for Poe's brush of horror. In a departing flash of wit Poe thus says that the glow was here--- but it is now gone! Now we are only left with the THOUGHT of that light in the eyes of his Annie. It is a delicious contrast, for the light in Annie’s eyes is perceived as bright as a golden pinpoint of a star on the black velvet heavens. It is not the sleepy mind of Poe thus represented, but the opposite, the alert Poe. That light is to Poe’s current state of consciousness like mountain peaks are to the depths of a valley. By reverse deduction, using Poe’s famed technique, we can only conclude that his highs must be as extreme as his lows. It is known that the effects of certain substances have a defined effect on the pupils. I think of Poe's Annie and I feel chills and a subtle desire to vomit. It is the endearing quality of the mad genius, especially one whose desperation and dissolution are immortalized by the inglorious halo of death, that the inspirational source of his works will be forever locked from the world. Poe took the secret of his genius with him into the vault of death and the key is nowhere to be found. Maybe that is why we look so hard.

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2002

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