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I have to compare and contrast two poems by Edgar Allan Poe. the poems are "For Annie" and "To Helen*". Can you help me?? Now Edgar has 2 poems To Helen I Need the longest one.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001


Sounds like a school question, but interesting. To Annie in rhthym and rhyme and horror story format resmebles Annabel Lee. The more lyrical and romantic "To Helen" deliberately harkens back to the first "To Helen" on the theme of return to hopeful memory with no rhyme or bouncy rhytym. "To Helen" was written during Poe's last courtship days after the death of Virginia to Sarah Helen Whitman, another poet and mystic. In common: both written in the desperate last period grasp for the consolation of Beauty which is Hope, which Poe applied vainly to several prospects. People tend to be repelled especially by this period when poems seemingly obviously better directed to Virginia are hawked for money and the possibility of some new undying love. Besides the needs of Poe there is another current that also binds these poems. For the poet, the inspiration, the Muse, the Beatrice of hope and salvation is symbolized in woman in general, maybe many women in particular. This symbol is what Poe attaches his devastated life to most strongly. In both poem the light of the eyes of the woman is his beacon as in that first "To Helen" of long ago. In "To Annie" the body is in the casket, but the spirit is filled with this light, this memory. In "To Helen"(the later, longer poem)the despairing poet is revived by the memory of the garden that itself involves a Chesire Cat type of fading until only her eyes remained, kindred in sorrow but life-giving to his soul.

A verse by verse analysis would be very illuminating of Poe on two sides of the great divide, dead and free to be immersed in the light of Annie or still kept alive with all life's ups and downs by the saving light of another. How these relate to his life is immensely important nearly overshadowing the poetic statement that springs from and rules his experience. Light and love even within the darkest dark. Even though Virginia had been urging him well into her fatal illness to move on after her death, Poe did not make it. I would like to believe Sarah Whitman's assessment was the correct one, that Virginia was still first and foremost in his heart, and that Poe's fears and habits of trying unsuccessfully to evade his ghosts tried to hide that fact.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

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