analyzing the peom "the lake" : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

can you help me analyze the poem "the lake"? Please.... I have to write a paper on it and i forgot my book at school. email me right back. thanks. Jesus loves you.


-- Anonymous, December 01, 2002


One of the best of Poe's early poems(1827 then revised to 1845). Some are fairly sure that the actual lake is the Lake of the Dismal Swamp(Lake Drummond)near Norfolk, VA., haunted serenely by two lovers' ghosts, was believed poisonous, with wet driftwood around it that looks black when wet. Thomas Moore visited it in 1803 and wrote a poem "A Ballad: The Lake of the Dismal Swamp" concentrating on the ghosts. The lake is a heaven an Eden for the soul of the departed lover.

The poem of the youth is about a cherished spot that has the characteristics of Poe's genral ideality. "So lovely was the loneliness" the usual melanchoolic juxtaposition as we see in "Alone" onwards. The wind awakes in him a holy terror. In the final version he affirms his attraction to that vision over all real things and loves, another Poe theme. In that shadow, that barrier of Death he could coonect to the ideal sheltered within. The final version fittingly divides the four stanzas for the intricate symmetry Poe favored in these short poems. First stanza: spring of youth focusses paradoxically in wide wanderings on a claustrophobic, enclosed spot, darkness surrounding and hovering over. The second stanza: discovery of the "fear" as Night falls and a "mystic wind" murmurs. The "but when" ...."then" construction is like "Alone" to define that important moment of revelation. Now the second half of the poem, third stanza, is a defining counter argument joined to that terror that no conventioanl happiness could compare to, a primordial power, a vision. Fourth stanza speaks of Death, antithesis of springtime in the first stanza and of course it is night too. The wave stirred by the wind brings that thrills the lonely youth. Again the paradox of lone imagingn, solitary poet finding solace and make an Eden of that dim Lake. Poe's clear vision of an ideal mysteriously hidden in a "cloud" or "shadow" or "dark lake" is even more interiorized than in the stormy haven of "To Helen", all the more impressive for the mere use of the image of the lake itslef- alone- without Moore's ghosts to explain the vision. For Poe needs no ghost except the experience itself with himself, the poet, his feeling bonded to the mystic presence of the lake. All this in a brief quatrain devoid of dwelling upon much physical imagery, or philosophy or explanation, but concentrating on the perfect union of mind, mood and setting as seen in his best tales as well. Another reaffirmation of his youthful poetic nature as first written in "Alone".

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2002

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