Spirit of the Dead and Dreams

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if anyone could help me with some analysis for dreams and then comparisons/contrasts of both poems content and style it would be very helpful. the thesis of my paper is that poe through these two poems expresses the fact that people when they are not accepted turn to fantasy, and the fantasy of death which will evetually accept all. (i must connect both poems in some way with this thesis or if there is a possible suggestion...) if you have any idea for any of these "questions" please email me, it would be greatly appreciated.

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2002


That Poe was lonely, different in his genius, and orphaned is not quite the same as not being accepted. His friends liked his poems, especially the funny ones. His teachers and foster parents were supportive. When disappointment sets in he finds retreat to memory AND future hope both ambiguous and unsatisfactory, but inescapably important to his soul. These are early poems about 1827, strong byronic influences. Spirits (or Visit) of the dead" Byron "Manfred" end of first scene. The proverb "Never less alone than when alone"(Byron from Shakespeare from eventually Cicero). Like the other setting poems "City in the Sea" and "The valley of Unrest" it deals with a haunted, unnatural stillness. "Dreams" also like Byron "The Dream" I 19-21, "Childe Harold" III, xiv, 1-3.

"Dreams" Four stanzas of rhyming couplets, iambic pentameter like two sonnets conjoined. But there is often an irregularity in Poe, an extrar line or rhyme and the second stanza is longer by two lines than the others. First stanza wishes that he could live in a dream(even a sorrowful one, but see his later poem "A Dream within a Dream")because reality is too dull for his character of "a chaos of deep passion." Second stanza continues the thought by saying that he could wish for no better eternal dream or "higher Heaven" than his childhood reverie. The third stanza gives a unique experience after this argument from life. An exopereince of cold imprint on his spirit. Curiously it will not pass from hismemory but in trying todescribe it he shortens the attempt at similes by "let it pass." Like the wind. The last stanza is the point of the real expereince, not the wished for hope, reiterating the misty shadowy dream of the last stanza, the more complete perosnal substitute for reality. The last line reiterates the second stanza daydream of hope. In the comparison he prefers the lost, vague but intensely REAL, cold dream as memory alone to conscious daydreams far more sunny and happy, but which he never expereinced so intensely as real. Complicated? He might well wish the eternal dream to be the happy one but even the cold, melancholic dream he had is superior to both reality AND daydreams far more congenial.

It is that intensity of awareness, the personal universe that is most like the Romantics, the Byronic hero.

"Spirits of the Dead" he later dividedinto five parts of varying length, but the oddity there is the alternating lines of rhyme interrupting the couplets(lines5-8) which serves to emphasize the major thought and title. The hanging presence of these spirits to his soul, thoughts, visions are as intensely present as they(and the setting)are still and silent. That same stillness and silence of most intense, opressive haunting can be found in many of Poe's works, more intense than the "still small voice" that came to Samuel. There is no message, noly torment for the poet in this visitation. he visits the graves, the spirits visit him, colliding silently into stasis.

What they have in common is the immutability of this frozen moment, even if that moment is a dream or memory. This is close to Poe's primary Muse revelation, a pinpoint he focuses on even if it means not looking at the present reality around him. A poetic revelation is unlike a religious revelation. It is more a totem experience or spirit dream that forever brands him. Yet not even that for it becomes a recognized incompleteness, being a dream, being the past, being of the ghosts. It can obsess and oppress and though it cannot satisfy he chooses it instinctively over "dull reality". That choice is all the easier for reality denying him even its modest customs of home, love and physical happiness. That this fantasy is not an escape(as most dreams merely recast our woes)is a source of honesty and dread as well. Many stories and poems in Poe show this mood, this dual attitude, this ambigous "no escape, no compromise" in which the soaring poetry is trapped. No elegiac religous comfort or sure idealization of the vision. It is as "through a glass darkly" and no romanticization to deny his real state in this life.

-- Anonymous, November 23, 2002

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