Meaning of The Happiest Day : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Could you tell me the meaning of The Happiest Day

THe happiest day- the happiest hour My seared and blighted heart hath known The highest hope of pride and power I feel hath flown

Of power! Said I? Yes! Such I ween But they have vanished long, alas! I visions of my youth have been- But let them pass.

And pride, what have I now with thee? Another brow may ev'n inherit The venom thou hast poured on me- Be still my spirit!

The happiest- the happiest hour Mine eyes shall see-have ever seen The brightest glance of pride and power I feel have been:

But were that hope of pride and power Now offered with the pain Ev'n then I felt-the brightest hour I would not live again:

For on its wings was dark alloy And as it fluttered-fell An essence-powerful to destory A soul that knew it well.

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2002


Surprisinglythis is Poe as a young man. Some literary reflection on Byron's "Fare the well"(1824) before his death. In this period of his life you can characterize as the changing or blighting of youthful hopes and expectations(military, college, love life) into a uncertain lunge into the literary world- and poverty and struggle. We are talking about power and pride such as Poe would only wield as a fierce literary critic much later. So it is difficult to interpret this as a disappointment in love unless he is too angry to use the word anymore, a form of spite against Elmira Royster his fiancee or John the sepfather who disinherited him? To make matters cloudier Poe's older brother tinkered some with verses.

Mainly it is a a mixture of anguish at loss but a rejection of the moment anyway since even at THAT peak he would not take the poison again it contained. The poem mixes that sense of loss and defiance to add to the ambiguity of what exactly Poe is talking about anyway.

Taking Byron as the clue, it is taking leave(good riddance)of one disappointing dream as he is on the stage of depoarture, not knowing what lies ahead. Byron was likely as burned out by his excesses as he was inspired to something entirely new by the revolt in Greece. This is the only real clear clue in the poem except for the nagging loss of his inheritance which indeed he would have loved for the pride and power of being a gentleman of means. While loss of prospects seems a bit low for the breadth of feeling in the poem it IS the image chosen and well in keeping for his age at the time.

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2002

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